Migrating from Octopress to Hakyll

After blogging on Octopress for a couple years, I got tired of its “heaviness.” Octopress has been a great way to blog; and deployment to Amazon S3 couldn’t be easier. But after playing around with the styling a bit, I still felt like trying to radically change and simplify the design required too much dealing with the internals. In short, I was looking for a static blogging system that offered more simplicity and flexibility than Octopress. That’s how I wandered into Hakyll.

At its core, Hakyll is a Haskell library on which bloggers can build a system for generating static sites. Because at its core, Hakyll is just a library, it means that the blogger can develop his own systm for parsing posts, generating pages, linking the blog together, and even deploying. I admit that I know nothing about Haskell; but it looks interesting. And I like the way Hakyll works; so I’m willing to give it a try.

##Installation##

####Installing Haskell on OS X 10.9####

I chose to install haskell-platform using homebrew[1], simply as:

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$ brew search haskell
haskell-platform

$ brew install haskell-platform

There were a handful of issues involving the Xcode command line tools and the PATH variable; but none were difficult. And I failed to record what they were. Sorry.

####Installing Hakyll####

Install Hakyll using cabal[2] as:

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$ cabal install hakyll

One of the things that the cabal package for hakyll gives you is an executable called hakyll-init that when run, creates an example site. Ideally, you should just be able to:

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$ hakyll-init my-great-site

but for me, hakyll-init is not found. You’ll have to make sure that ~/.cabal/bin is in you PATH for that to work.

####Configuring the example site####

Once you’ve built a sample site with hakyll-init you need to use the use ghc to build the site configuration program site.hs:

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$ cd my-site
$ ghc --make site.hs
$ ./site build

Now you can preview your site with ./site watch on localhost:8000.

####Deployment####

My site is hosted on Amazon S3 and I use Transmit to synchronize my local directory with the bucket that serves the site. This works well, except for the fact that CSS is poorly handled by Amazon web services when you serve a static site from an S3 bucket. The problem is the Content-Type of the css files is provided as binary/octet-stream. This is not right. You can change in the management console; but it gets reset every time you upload the file. Clearly not a good solution.

If you use Transmit, though, you can set the Content-Type for cloud uploads on a per-file extension basis. The relevant details are described in a blog post by Adam Wilcox. Basically, you just go Transmit preferences, Cloud tab, and set the Custom S3 Upload Headers for css files:

Header name Value
Content-Type text/css
x-amz-storage-class REDUCED_REDUNDANCY

After making those changes, static blogs hosted on S3 will return css files with the correct type header.

Since Transmit is scriptable, you can write an Applescript to connect to your S3 bucket and sync. The most straightforward way to make this work is to create favorite in Transmit as show in the screenshot. If you use a named favorite that specifies both the remote and local paths, you should be able to adapt the following script to perform the sync.

Finally, you’ll want to link that script into the deploy command in your blog configuration. There you’ll want to modify your site.hs file and recompile it.

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config :: Configuration
config = defaultConfiguration
{ deployCommand = "osascript /Users/alan/Documents/dev/scripts+tools/applescript/scripts/active/sync-blog-s3.scpt" }

Now from the command line, I can just:

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$ ./site deploy

to execute my deployment Applescript.

####Post migration####
Your post source is written in Markdown; so you’ll probably want to write rules into your site.hs file that specify how you want to parse the metadata in those files. If I knew more Haskell, I’d describe that in more detail for you. I had a small number of posts to migrate; so I changed the metadata format manually. Essentially I changed the formatting of the tags (they’re called categories in Octopress) and removed quote marks from the post titles.


  1. Homebrew is a package manager for OS X.

  2. Cabal is a build and package system for Haskell.