Blogging with Emacs Org

Right Now, I use two blog systems to post articles. First, I use the Emacs built-in Org to record my learning on math, computer and wireless communication. For me, the built-in publishing system is obsolete (I am not saying Org is obsolete. My life rely heavily on Org.) because I find the second one is more interesting and flexible to config. The second one is Hugo. Naturally, the Hugo support markdown format. However, I want to use Emacs Org to maintain a tools consistency. Fortunately, there is ox-hugo, a project bridging Emacs org and Hugo markdown. Ox-hugo allows you to write your blog using Emacs Org then publish them in the markdwon format automatically.

1 Writing with Emacs Org publish

It’s easy to build a static website using Emacs Org. Worg, the Org-mode community, also have comprehensive tutorials about using Org to build your own static site. To be honest, worg should be every serious Org users’ starting point. So many Org experts contribute their summary of Org in high-quality articles on the Worg.

In general, through Emacs Org mode, all you need is to set the variable org-publish-project-alist . Of course, if you want your site beautiful, some knowledge about CSS and JavaScript is necessary.

2 Writing with Hugo

Now, I moved from the Emacs built-in publishing system to Hugo because of Hugo’s efficiency and flexibility. You can build your static site in just a few minutues. One major problem of the built-in publishing system is that you have to wait for a long time as your site gets larger and larger. When you have only several posts, there is no problem. However, when you have more than one hundred posts, you want to kill yourself during waiting the publishing.

Using Hugo, everything is easy. Post an article is at the fingure.However, if you want to write a post, it is prioritized to finished it in the github format markdown. For a guy who rarely use markdown and is familiar with Emacs Org, this constraint is not human. Fortunately, Ox-hugo, a carefuly crafted Org exporter backend for Hugo, is definitely worth a try. Ox-hugo bridge the Emacs Org and Hugo and make the workflow at a fly. Even though, Hugo supports to write the posts in Org format, Ox-hugo still is a sharp tool which I will not give up and highly recommend it.

Especially, there is tons of themes for you. Also, you can set up your own theme.

2.1 architecture of the site

Using hugo , there is a default architecture. Using ox-hugo , I store the Org file in the subdirectory content-org . There are several sections for my static site such math , computer and communication . I store the articles in the corresponding category. For example I will put an article on mathematical analysis in the file named content-org/ so that after exporting, the markdown file will be put in the subdirectory content/math/ .

Figure 1: architecture of Hugo project

Figure 1: architecture of Hugo project

3 Settings for ox-hugo

3.1 settings for each section based on ox-hugo

As mentioned before, there are several sections for my site and I use ox-hugo to handle articles for this sections. In the subdirectory content-org/ , there are several *.org files such as , , and . All these .org files have multiple level-1 headlines. for each level-1 headline, there is one article. I use one-post-per-Org-subtree style preferred in the ox-hugo document but one-section-per-Org-file style for each section. The one-section-per-Org-file style is kind of like one-post-per-Org-file mentioned in the ox-hugo document. So I have a hybrid style.

For each section, I have to set some parameters properly so that the articles goes to the right postion. Take for example, the beginning of this file is like:

#+FILETAGS: math
#+OPTIONS:   *:t <:nil timestamp:nil toc:t
  1. the first line tells ox-hugo the targeting directory is ../content/ .
  2. the second line tells ox-hugo the article goes to ../content/math .
  3. the third line is the Org state of the article, TODO will render the article a draft while DONE a finished post.
  4. the fourth line will tell the Org all the headlines of this file has the tag math
  5. at the fifth line. *:t will toggle emphasized text. <:nil means the timestamp will not be exported. timestamp:nil means the creation time will not be exported. toc:t means for the articles table of content is generated. More settings like these will be detailed in the Org manual. (You can open the Org manual by C-h i ,then seclect the Org section.) On table of contents, ox-hugo has an article.
  6. the sixth line tells ox-hugo to export the latest time when the article is modified.

3.2 settings for each article based on ox-hugo

I use the org-capture to start a article. The emacs-lisp:

(setq org-capture-templates
        ("t" "todo" entry (file "~/zorg/Dropbox/base/")
         "* TODO %? :TODO: \n Added:%T\n"
         :clock-in t :clock-resume t)
        ("h" "Hugo post")
        ("hm" "Math"
         entry (file+olp "~/zorg/" "Math")
         (function org-hugo-new-subtree-post-capture-template)
         :clock-in t :clock-resume t)
        ("hc" "Computer"
         entry (file+olp "~/zorg/" "Computer")
         (function org-hugo-new-subtree-post-capture-template)
         :clock-in t :clock-resume t)
        ("ht" "Telecommunication"
         entry (file+olp "~/zorg/" "Telecommunication")
         (function org-hugo-new-subtree-post-capture-template)
         :clock-in t :clock-resume t)
        ("hl" "Life"
         entry (file+olp "~/zorg/" "Life")
         (function org-hugo-new-subtree-post-capture-template)
         :clock-in t :clock-resume t)
        ("ho" "Tools"
         entry (file+olp "~/zorg/" "Tools")
         (function org-hugo-new-subtree-post-capture-template)
         :clock-in t :clock-resume t)

From the above code, you can see that I rely heavily on ox-hugo. there is one function named org-hugo-new-subtree-post-capture-template which is shown as below:

  (defun org-hugo-new-subtree-post-capture-template ()
    "Returns `org-capture' template string for new Hugo post.
See `org-capture-templates' for more information."
    (let* (;;
           (date (format-time-string (org-time-stamp-format  :inactive) (org-current-time)))
           (title (read-from-minibuffer "Post Title: ")) ;Prompt to enter the post title
           (fname (org-hugo-slug title)))
      (mapconcat #'identity
                   ,(concat "* TODO " title)
                   ,(concat ":EXPORT_FILE_NAME: " fname)
                   ,(concat ":EXPORT_DATE: " date) ;Enter current date and time
                   ,(concat ":EXPORT_HUGO_CUSTOM_FRONT_MATTER+: "  ":summary \"summary\"")
                   "%?\n")          ;Place the cursor here finally

One more point, it is awesome to preview each article after saveing it. Yes! you can do it according this article.

4 Settings for Hugo themes

Now, there are more than 190+ themes for Hugo. It is pretty straightforward to install and config a theme as you wish. I prefer the Academic theme which I adopt for the following reasons:

  1. It is easy manage my post according to different categories.
  2. I love the widget most.
  3. support of \(\mathrm{\LaTeX}\) so I can with the mathematical expressions fluently.
  4. Responsive and mobile friendly.
  5. easy to update.

    There are several ways to install the Academic theme. I use the Academic Kickstart way:

    git clone My_Website

    The very reason I use the Kickstart way lies in the updatation of Academic. In the Kickstart way, Academic is installed as a Git sub-module.

    If you want to update the theme,all you have to do is:

    git submodule update --remote --merge

    Also, for different methods of updating the theme, you can check here.

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