Jekyll offers a unique philosophy when approaching the problem of static site generation. This core philosophy drives development and product decisions. When a contributor, maintainer, or user asks herself what Jekyll is about, the following principles should come to mind:
Jekyll is not magic. A user should be able to understand the underlying processes that make up the Jekyll build without much reading. It should do only what you ask it to and nothing more. When a user takes a certain action, the outcome should be easily understandable and focused.
The out-of-the-box experience should be that it “just works.” Run
gem install jekyll and it should build any Jekyll site that it’s given.
Features like auto-regeneration and settings like the markdown renderer
should represent sane defaults that work perfectly for the vast majority of
cases. The burden of initial configuration should not be placed on the user.
Why is Jekyll so loved by content creators? It focuses on content first and foremost, making the process of publishing content on the Web easy. Users should find the management of their content enjoyable and simple.
If a user’s site builds today, it should build tomorrow. Backwards-compatibility should be strongly preferred over breaking changes. Breaking changes should be made to support a strong practical goal, and breaking changes should never be made to drive forward “purity” of the codebase, or other changes purely to make the maintainers’ lives easier. Breaking changes provide a significant amount of friction between upgrades and reduce the confidence of users in this software, and should thus be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Upon breaking changes, provide a clear path for users to upgrade.
The core of Jekyll should be simple and small, and extensibility should be a first-class feature to provide added functionality from community contributors. The core should be kept to features used by at least 90% of users–everything else should be provided as a plugin. New features should be shipped as plugins and focus should be put on creating extensible core API’s to support rich plugins.