Jekyll As A Multilingual Blog

Setting up a multilingual blog has proven to not be an easy task.I have experimented back and forth with different kinds of systems, and eventually landed on Jekyll for a couple of reasons.

  1. It’s static. I like the idea of functionally generating HTML based on non-html content.

  2. Can be hosted on GitHub. Adminstrating a full linux VPS seemed a bit overkill for a blog, so I’m happy to find that GitHub can host Jekyll websites.

  3. It’s extendable. Jekyll features a very easy system of extension through it’s object model and templating framework.

Making Jekyll Multilingual

Jekyll is not multilingual by default, but it is easy to add this functionality as I found by reading an article by Sylvain Durand.

One thing to note about how Jekyll builds up the data structures is that after parsing all of the posts, it makes them avaiable through the site.posts array. This array includes all posts of all languages, so it has to be filtered.

Finding The Next Post

One feature that I wanted to use in Jekyll that broke after adding multiple languges was the page.next and page.previous variables that Jekyll exposes for post pages.

These variables point to the next and previous post relative to the current one, but will unfortunately point to posts of another language most of time. However, the object returned by these also have the next and previous variables. Which means you can do page.next.next.next... to traverse the array in relation to the current post.

We can explore forwards or backwards through the post array with a recursive template. It will keep going until it either finds a post of the correct language or the value nil.

{% assign next_post = include.next_post %}

{% if next_post == nil %}
    <!-- No next post -->
{% elsif next_post.lang == page.lang %}
    <a href="{{ next_post.url }}" >Next</a>
{% else %}
    {% include next_button.html next_post=next_post.next %}
{% endif %}

To use it:

{% include next_button.html next_post=page.next %}
{% include prev_button.html prev_post=page.previous %}