Migrate to Hugo from Jekyll

March 10, 2014

Move static content to static

Jekyll has a rule that any directory not starting with _ will be copied as-is to the _site output. Hugo keeps all static content under static. You should therefore move it all there. With Jekyll, something that looked like

▾ <root>/
    ▾ images/

should become

▾ <root>/
    ▾ static/
        ▾ images/

Additionally, you’ll want any files that should reside at the root (such as CNAME) to be moved to static.

Create your Hugo configuration file

Hugo can read your configuration as JSON, YAML or TOML. Hugo supports parameters custom configuration too. Refer to the Hugo configuration documentation for details.

Set your configuration publish folder to _site

The default is for Jekyll to publish to _site and for Hugo to publish to public. If, like me, you have _site mapped to a git submodule on the gh-pages branch, you’ll want to do one of two alternatives:

  1. Change your submodule to point to map gh-pages to public instead of _site (recommended).

     git submodule deinit _site
     git rm _site
     git submodule add -b gh-pages git@github.com:your-username/your-repo.git public
  2. Or, change the Hugo configuration to use _site instead of public.

         "publishdir": "_site",

Convert Jekyll templates to Hugo templates

That’s the bulk of the work right here. The documentation is your friend. You should refer to Jekyll’s template documentation if you need to refresh your memory on how you built your blog and Hugo’s template to learn Hugo’s way.

As a single reference data point, converting my templates for heyitsalex.net took me no more than a few hours.

Convert Jekyll plugins to Hugo shortcodes

Jekyll has plugins; Hugo has shortcodes. It’s fairly trivial to do a port.


As an example, I was using a custom image_tag plugin to generate figures with caption when running Jekyll. As I read about shortcodes, I found Hugo had a nice built-in shortcode that does exactly the same thing.

Jekyll’s plugin:

    module Jekyll
      class ImageTag < Liquid::Tag
        @url = nil
        @caption = nil
        @class = nil
        @link = nil
        // Patterns
        IMAGE_URL_WITH_CLASS_AND_CAPTION_AND_LINK = /(\w+)(\s+)((https?:\/\/|\/)(\S+))(\s+)"(.*?)"(\s+)->((https?:\/\/|\/)(\S+))(\s*)/i
        IMAGE_URL_WITH_CAPTION = /((https?:\/\/|\/)(\S+))(\s+)"(.*?)"/i
        IMAGE_URL_WITH_CLASS = /(\w+)(\s+)((https?:\/\/|\/)(\S+))/i
        IMAGE_URL = /((https?:\/\/|\/)(\S+))/i
        def initialize(tag_name, markup, tokens)
            @class   = $1
            @url     = $3
            @caption = $7
            @link = $9
          elsif markup =~ IMAGE_URL_WITH_CLASS_AND_CAPTION
            @class   = $1
            @url     = $3
            @caption = $7
          elsif markup =~ IMAGE_URL_WITH_CAPTION
            @url     = $1
            @caption = $5
          elsif markup =~ IMAGE_URL_WITH_CLASS
            @class = $1
            @url   = $3
          elsif markup =~ IMAGE_URL
            @url = $1
        def render(context)
          if @class
            source = "<figure class='#{@class}'>"
            source = "<figure>"
          if @link
            source += "<a href=\"#{@link}\">"
          source += "<img src=\"#{@url}\">"
          if @link
            source += "</a>"
          source += "<figcaption>#{@caption}</figcaption>" if @caption
          source += "</figure>"
    Liquid::Template.register_tag('image', Jekyll::ImageTag)

is written as this Hugo shortcode:

<!-- image -->
<figure {{ with .Get "class" }}class="{{.}}"{{ end }}>
    {{ with .Get "link"}}<a href="{{.}}">{{ end }}
        <img src="{{ .Get "src" }}" {{ if or (.Get "alt") (.Get "caption") }}alt="{{ with .Get "alt"}}{{.}}{{else}}{{ .Get "caption" }}{{ end }}"{{ end }} />
    {{ if .Get "link"}}</a>{{ end }}
    {{ if or (or (.Get "title") (.Get "caption")) (.Get "attr")}}
    <figcaption>{{ if isset .Params "title" }}
        {{ .Get "title" }}{{ end }}
        {{ if or (.Get "caption") (.Get "attr")}}<p>
        {{ .Get "caption" }}
        {{ with .Get "attrlink"}}<a href="{{.}}"> {{ end }}
            {{ .Get "attr" }}
        {{ if .Get "attrlink"}}</a> {{ end }}
        </p> {{ end }}
    {{ end }}
<!-- image -->


I simply changed:

{% image full http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4136/4829260124_57712e570a_o_d.jpg "One of my favorite touristy-type photos. I secretly waited for the good light while we were "having fun" and took this. Only regret: a stupid pole in the top-left corner of the frame I had to clumsily get rid of at post-processing." ->http://www.flickr.com/photos/alexnormand/4829260124/in/set-72157624547713078/ %}

to this (this example uses a slightly extended version named fig, different than the built-in figure):

{{% fig class="full" src="http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4136/4829260124_57712e570a_o_d.jpg" title="One of my favorite touristy-type photos. I secretly waited for the good light while we were having fun and took this. Only regret: a stupid pole in the top-left corner of the frame I had to clumsily get rid of at post-processing." link="http://www.flickr.com/photos/alexnormand/4829260124/in/set-72157624547713078/" %}}

As a bonus, the shortcode named parameters are, arguably, more readable.

Finishing touches

Fix content

Depending on the amount of customization that was done with each post with Jekyll, this step will require more or less effort. There are no hard and fast rules here except that hugo server --watch is your friend. Test your changes and fix errors as needed.

Clean up

You’ll want to remove the Jekyll configuration at this point. If you have anything else that isn’t used, delete it.

A practical example in a diff

Hey, it’s Alex was migrated in less than a father-with-kids day from Jekyll to Hugo. You can see all the changes (and screw-ups) by looking at this diff.