Using custom software with Github Actions to deploy a site

post, Mar 10, 2024, on Mitja Felicijan's blog

By default, GitHub uses Jekyll for their site generator which is fine, but it has some issues and the complexity is not really worth it for me.

You could argue that Jekyll is simple, which it is to some degree, but it can become complicated quite quickly if you start adding your own spin on things.

A while ago I wrote a simple static site generator called "jbmafp - Just Build Me A Fucking Page" which was a protest against Hugo. Hugo is fine but again, if you try doing something that conflicts with the dogma they prescribe you are in trouble.

I also moved this blog from self-hosted virtual machine to just GitHub Pages. I didn't want to bother myself managing that server anymore. And this presented a slight problem because I didn't want to use the default _docs folder GitHub wants you to use, and I also didn't want to upload public folder that gets generated to GitHub.

Thankfully, there is a way to use custom software to generate your site like jbmafp.

To achieve this you need to create a file .github/workflows/deploy.yaml in the root of your repository.

name: Build and Deploy to Pages

    branches: ["master"]

  contents: read
  pages: write
  id-token: write

  group: "pages"
  cancel-in-progress: false

      name: github-pages
      url: ${{ steps.deployment.outputs.page_url }}
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
      - name: Checkout
        uses: actions/checkout@v3
      - name: Setup Pages
        uses: actions/configure-pages@v3
      - name: Run a multi-line script
        run: |
          chmod +x jbmafp
          ./jbmafp -b          
      - name: Upload artifact
        uses: actions/upload-pages-artifact@v2
          path: './public'
      - name: Deploy to GitHub Pages
        id: deployment
        uses: actions/deploy-pages@v2

This is an example for jbmafp. When I execute ./jbmafp -b the program creates public folder and puts all content there. And the directive with: path: './public' tells actions/deploy-pages@v2 to look for public folder instead of docs folder.

This can be used with anything, actually. Hugo, Gatsby, Astro, you name it.