Automating Nikola rebuilds with GitHub Actions

In this guide, we’ll set up GitHub Actions to rebuild a Nikola website and host it on GitHub Pages.

See also: Travis CI version of this guide.

Why?

By using GitHub Actions to build your site, you can easily blog from anywhere you can edit text files. Which means you can blog with only a web browser and GitHub.com. You also won’t need to install Nikola and Python to write. You won’t need a real computer either — a mobile phone could probably access GitHub.com and write something.

Caveats

  • The build might take a couple minutes to finish (1:30 for the demo site; YMMV)

  • When you commit and push to GitHub, the site will be published unconditionally. If you don’t have a copy of Nikola for local use, there is no way to preview your site.

What you need

  • A computer for the initial setup that can run Nikola. You can do it with any OS (Linux, macOS, *BSD, but also Windows).

  • A GitHub account (free)

Setting up Nikola

Start by creating a new Nikola site and customizing it to your liking. Follow the Getting Started guide. You might also want to add support for other input formats, namely Markdown, but this is not a requirement.

After you’re done, you must configure deploying to GitHub in Nikola. There are a few important things you need to take care of:

  • Make your first deployment from your local computer and make sure your site works right. Don’t forget to set up .gitignore.

  • The GITHUB_COMMIT_SOURCE and GITHUB_REMOTE_NAME settings are overridden, so you can use values appropriate for your local builds.

  • Ensure that the correct branch for GitHub Pages is set on GitHub.com.

If everything works, you can make some change to your site (so you see that rebuilding works), but don’t commit it just yet.

Setting up GitHub Actions

Next, we need to set up GitHub Actions. This is really straightforward.

On your source branch, create a file named .github/workflows/main.yml with the following contents:

github-workflow.yml (Source)

on: [push]
jobs:
  nikola_build:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    name: 'Deploy Nikola to GitHub Pages'
    steps:
    - name: Check out
      uses: actions/[email protected]
    - name: Build and Deploy Nikola
      uses: getnikola/[email protected]

There might be a newer version of the action available, you can check the latest version in the getnikola/nikola-action repo on GitHub.

By default, the action will install the latest stable release of Nikola[extras]. If you want to use the bleeding-edge version from master, or want to install some extra dependencies, you can provide a requirements.txt file in the repository.

Commit everything to GitHub:

git add .
git commit -am "Automate builds with GitHub Actions"

Hopefully, GitHub will build your site and deploy. Check the Actions tab in your repository or your e-mail for build details. If there are any errors, make sure you followed this guide to the letter.

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