Joel Always one syllable, sometimes "@jayroh"

Jekyll Plugin Conventions

30 May 2022

Jekyll logo.

When it comes to static-site generators Jekyll is clearly among the old heads (if not the oldest). I know it’s not sexy. I know it’s not shiny.

I don’t care. 😄

It works, and it’s easy to grok.

It’s also pretty easy to extend its functionality with plugins – either on your own, adding code to your website’s code-base, or via rubygems. Or creating your own plugin, and distributing it as a gem.

This post is for those getting to that last point. Just what does a typical jekyll plugin look like? What are the typical conventions for file structure? Naming? Any nuance?

Common themes when writing Jekyll plugins

  1. Jekyll plugins are often named via the kebab-case convention, instead of snake_case which is what you might see more commonly for general rubygems. This doesn’t matter much as we can make it work. But if you’re seeing a pattern within a community, then might as well follow the lead instead of bucking the trend. “When in Rome” and all that.

    Some example plugin gems in the wild:

  2. Per the rubygems guides, there are recommendations for how you structure your files and class-names when you use certain naming conventions.

    Chart with recommendations for how to name gems.

    So, if you are naming your plugin “jekyll-awesome-possum” your file and directory structure would look like so:


    Where your gemspec would potentially, probably, start out looking like:

    # frozen_string_literal: true
    lib = File.expand_path('lib', __dir__)
    $LOAD_PATH.unshift(lib) unless $LOAD_PATH.include?(lib)
    require 'jekyll-awesome-possum'
    # ...

    Note: There is a bit of unorthodoxy going on here that’s worth pointing out. Normally the file lib/jekyll-awesome-possum.rb would not be necessary as ruby conventions would expect to auto-load code in lib/jekyll/awesome/possum.rb. Jekyll, however, does look to directly load that file and will complain if you don’t have it:

    jekyll-4.2.1/lib/jekyll/external.rb:60:in `require': cannot load such file -- jekyll-imgproxy-tag (LoadError)


    Adding that file and further requiring the meat and potatoes of your code does the trick.


    # frozen_string_literal: true
    require 'jekyll/awesome/possum'
  3. What does your first class look like?


    require 'jekyll'
    module Jekyll
      module Awesome
        class Possum < Liquid::Tag
          VERSION = '0.1.0'
          def initialize(tag_name, markup, tokens)
            @markup = markup
          def render(_context)
            'Hello I am the output of a tag'
    Liquid::Template.register_tag('awesome_possum', Jekyll::Awesome::Possum)

    If you take a look at the Jekyll source, you can see where the Jekyll team name-spaces all of the project within a Jekyll module. As a result, it should do the same, otherwise an error raises due to the constants’ names clashing. Otherwise, at this point we’re pretty much free to flesh out the rest of our plugin as much as we would like.

For more information on how to author Jekyll plugins visit the docs on their site. Additionally, take a look at some of the other plugins out there and read through their source. There’s nothing better than seeing the theoretical applied in real life.

Final thought – this blog post is a result of a little digging for these conventions as I start writing a plugin to get tags generated for the imgproxy image processing tool. If you look at the source and the commit for this post you will see all of the above applied as I flesh out the skeleton of the plugin.

Thanks for reading!

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