This site is built using Jekyll. In tinkering with Jekyll, I was seeking a way to serve the site locally while also leveraging the convenience of GitHub Pages.

The Jekyll docs suggest prepending URLs with site.github.url, which leverages the site.github metadata exposed by the jekyll-github-metata gem. This is great for URLs in the GitHub Pages environment, but for local development, any URL generated as such will link to a GitHub Pages asset.

Ideally, one could override the site.github.url in one’s local environment and set the value to http://localhost:4000 (or whichever URL one uses to serve Jekyll locally). The Jekyll docs seem to imply that this happens, but as of the gem versions I was using (jekyll-github-metadata (= 2.0.2), jekyll (= 3.1.6)), that value was set to the GitHub Pages value in development.

Turning to Google, I found the following Jekyll Style Guide by Ben Balter. The guide makes the following suggestion:

Prefer site.github.url when using GitHub Pages. To ensure your site renders properly locally, add the following to your site’s config (which will be overridden by GitHub Pages):
  url: http://localhost:4000

However, when I attempted to make the suggested change in my _config.yml, the value was not replaced by GitHub Pages and all URLs in that environment referenced my localhost. It’s likely that I’m missing something and that this method works, but I gave decided to try another technique.

Using the -c or --config flag, one can specify multiple config files when running the jekyll binary. Jekyll loads the files in reverse order of precedence. So, one can set values in their _config.yml, then override them in another file:

bundle exec jekyll serve --config "_config.yml,config.development.yml"

My config.development.yml is identical Balter’s suggested config change referenced above.

  url: http://localhost:4000

I didn’t want to type that everytimeI wanted to serve Jekyll locally, so I decided that I’d use foreman to launch my server.

Now I’m able to view my development changes locally at http://localhost:4000 while leveraging the convenience of automatic deployments to GitHub Pages whenever I push my branch. There are likely other ways to skin this cat, but this one works.