Jekyll Blogging with Obsidian

I wrote about what would be ideal blogging process. I’ve always been dissatisfied with blogging due to how hard it is to post. When it is easy to post, then you generally lack freedom in some other fundamental area. I recommend reading that for context.

This post is about using Obsidian to send file to Github. It should work with any blogging framework, but given I use Jekyll, that’s what I’ll use here.

Ok, so how can I configure Jekyll and Obsidian together?

These are the instructions I’d need if I had to setup everything from scratch.

Step 0: have Jekyll in a repository. It’s outside the scope of this text teaching how to use it. It’s fairly simple if you know how to use it, but getting started can be tricky for non-developers. You can find tons of tutorials online, it’s a very basic blogging framework.

If you don’t use Jekyll, you can still publish to a directory in Github.

Step 1: write your notes in Obsidian.

The frontmatter of each file should look like the following. Frontmatter is really just a header for the file, and the --- indicate where it begins and ends.

---
share: true
title: "Jekyll Blogging with Obsidian"
date: 2022-10-15 06:00:00 -0400
filename: "guide/_posts/2022-10-15-jekyll-with-obsidian"
tags: [obsidian]
---

The actual article goes here.

where,

  • share: when true, it will push to Github (it is configured below in the plugin’s Settings screen)
  • filename: this is the place where your file will be saved in Github.
  • title, date, tags: these are standard Jekyll configurations and not critical here.

When you create a wikilink in Obsidian (an internal link), the publishing plugin will figure out the filename frontmatter value and replace links with those paths, translating to what Jekyll expects.

Step 2: install the obsidian-github-publisher plugin. This is a community plugin, so you’ll have to enable non-core plugins.

What it does is it sends files to a Github repository. For that to work, you need to configure a user, Github token, and the final file structure. These are described in the next step.

Step 3: time to configure the plugin. Go the plugin Settings (Cmd+comma on MacOS, then Community Plugins, then Github Publisher), you will find a list of properties to set.

The following are details about those properties.

Property Comment
Repository The plugin’s README has instructions on that. You’ll need a Github username, repo and token.
Folder Behavior I set as Fixed. More details here.
Default Folder I’m using obsidian. This puts all files published into the obsidian/ directory in Github.
Title Frontmatter I’ve set mine to filename. This determines where the file will be sent to. For example, this post’s filename: guide/_posts/2022-10-15-jekyll-with-obsidian at the top, so the plugin will use it to figure out that it should move it to obsidian/guide/_posts/2022-10-15-jekyll-with-obsidian.md
Links I turn on both Internal Links and Wikilinks. I want them to be processed.
Embed Transfer Attachment should be on. For images, I set the Default Attachment Folder, I set images/obsidian (my Jekyll config expects images/).
Auto Clean I think it makes sense to turn on Auto Clean.

Step 3b: the Text Replacer field is a bit more complicated. In short, it allows you to set some regex rules to rewrite some of the text during publishing.

Why would we want to rewrite the text? First, links need to match what Jekyll expects, so I set it to transform a wikilink like this

[[my-page|My Pages]]

to become the following in markdown,

[My Page](my-page)

However, Jekyll expects

[My Page]({% link my-page.md %})

Second, it appends obsidian to links, which the plugin wasn’t doing automatically (bug?).

In the Text Replacer section, each line has two fields. Let’s call the first entry and the second replacer. Here’s my configuration entries:

Rule 1, transform links ./: set entry to (?<!\\`)\\[(.*?)\\]\\((?!(http|\\/*image|obsidian\\/image))(\\.\\/)*(.+?)(\\.md)*\\) and replacer to [$1]({% link obsidian/$4.md %}).

Why: this makes so wikilinks include the link function that Jekyll expects. If you are a little more technical and wants more details, here’s a commit I did with a nice ascii explanation.

Rule 2, adjusts image paths: set entry to (?<!\\`)\\[(.*?)\\]\\(((obsidian\\/)?image)(.+)\\) and replacer to [$1](/image$4).

Why: image paths in Jekyll start at /images, but the plugin is converting it to /obsidian/images. This rule set removes /obsidian in those cases.

Finally, if you need to debug the conversion, search for the findAndReplaceText() function in Chrome’s dev console and add breakpoints to it.

Step 4: set a nice keyboard shortcut for publishing. I configured Cmd+Shift+Option+D for publishing only the open file, and Cmd+Shift+D for everything.

Is there data.json file I can copy?

Sure. Below is a copy of mine. If you want, paste into the plugin’s data file which lives in .obsidian/obsidian-mkdocs-publisher/data.json (in your Obsidian Vault directory). You have to replace the github keys and GhToken (as of version 4.4.0).

{
  "githubRepo": "blog",
  "githubName": "kurko",
  "GhToken": "ghp_[REDACTED]",
  "githubBranch": "main",
  "shareKey": "share",
  "ExcludedFolder": "",
  "fileMenu": true,
  "editorMenu": true,
  "downloadedFolder": "fixed",
  "folderDefaultName": "obsidian",
  "yamlFolderKey": "",
  "rootFolder": "",
  "workflowName": "",
  "embedImage": true,
  "defaultImageFolder": "images/obsidian",
  "autoCleanUp": true,
  "autoCleanUpExcluded": "",
  "folderNote": false,
  "convertWikiLinks": true,
  "convertForGithub": true,
  "subFolder": "",
  "embedNotes": false,
  "copyLink": false,
  "mainLink": "",
  "linkRemover": "",
  "hardBreak": false,
  "logNotice": false,
  "convertDataview": true,
  "useFrontmatterTitle": true,
  "censorText": [
    {
      "entry": "(?<!\\`)\\[(.*?)\\]\\((?!(http|\\/*image|obsidian\\/image))(\\.\\/)*(.+?)(\\.md)*\\)",
      "replace": "[$1]({% link obsidian/$4.md %})"
    },
    {
      "entry": "(?<!\\`)\\[(.*?)\\]\\(((obsidian\\/)?image)(.+)\\)",
      "replace": "[$1](/image$4)"
    }
  ],
  "inlineTags": false,
  "dataviewFields": [],
  "excludeDataviewValue": [],
  "metadataFileFields": [
    "obsidian"
  ],
  "frontmatterTitleKey": "filename",
  "shareExternalModified": false
}