Jekyll and Foundation

When I decided to give this site a new look, I decided that I wanted to use a real web frontend framework. There are certainly plenty to choose from: Bootstrap, Semantic UI, Foundation, etc. I chose Foundation, for no particular reason. The question, though: How do you integrate Foundation with Jekyll?

Let’s back up a bit, and talk about the two components involved.

How Jekyll Works

  1. Jekyll looks in your css folder, and compiles all the .sass and .scss files into regular old .css files.
  2. Jekyll goes through any pages named *.html or *.md in your main folder, and anything named _posts/*.md or _posts/*.html, fills in the template, and spits out regular .html files.
  3. These html files have some sort of tag like <link rel="stylesheet" href="/css/main.css"> that references the CSS files created above, so when you load index.html it will use that CSS.

This is a gross simplification (and I don’t pretend to know all the details), but its the basic idea.

How Foundation Works (Sass installation)

If you installed Foundation the Sass way, it works like so:

  1. You put the right Foundation *.scss, *.sass, and *.js files in the right directories. If you start by running foundation new MyProjectName like the docs tell you to, they will already be in the right place.
  2. You use Compass or the combination of Grunt and Libsass to compile your settings along with the Foundation Sass files into CSS files.
  3. You link to the Foundation CSS files in your HTML files.

Combining Jekyll and Foundation

The problem here is that we now have two Sass compilation steps, which, of course, is unnecessary. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just have Jekyll compile the Foundation Sass files? Well, of course, we can. Its really easy, once you know how to put things together.

This all assumes that you can manage to install the basic tools on your own: Jekyll, Gem, Bower, etc. Some you will need, others you won’t, depending on how you do things.

Start with a Jekyll site

If necessary, create one with jekyll new.

Install the Foundation files

There are two ways to install the Foundation files into your Jekyll site

  1. Use bower install foundation to just copy in the CSS and Javascript files

  2. Use foundation new NewFolderName to make an entirely folder, and then copy bower_components to your Jekyll folder. This gives you more stuff, which is partly annoying, because you’ll need to delete most of it, and partly nice, because now you can see a nice list of how to include links to the stylesheet and things like that.

I went with the second way, although I hope that with this guide, the first might be perfectly manageable.

Now we need the Jekyll Sass files to link to the Foundation ones, so that Jekyll will compile the Foundation Sass files into its own CSS.

  1. Copy {FoundationProject}/scss/_settings.css into {JekyllProject}/_sass/_settings.scss

  2. Change {JekyllProject}/_sass/_settings.scss and {JekyllProject}/css/main.scss to correctly import Foundation.

I did that in this commit.

The relevant lines:

// _sass/_settings.scss
@import '../bower_components/foundation/scss/foundation/functions';

// css/main.css
@import "../bower_components/foundation/scss/foundation";


If you want the Foundation Javascript, you will need to link to it from your pages:

  <script src="bower_components/modernizr/modernizr.js"></script>
  <script src="bower_components/jquery/dist/jquery.min.js"></script>
  <script src="bower_components/foundation/js/foundation.min.js"></script>
  <script src="js/app.js"></script>

All of that I took directly from the foundation new index.html file.

No Javascript

If you’re not using the Javascript (I’m not!), then you might want to add exclude: ['bower_components'] to your _config.yml, to tell Jekyll to not include the entire bower_components file on your server. Its not necessary; you don’t need the javascript, and all the Sass will be compiled into CSS that will be on your site.

Fix your Sass Mess

At this point, it should be “working”: if you run jekyll build (or jekyll serve), it should compile Foundation into CSS files that your main files will link to.

Unfortunately, a vanilla Jekyll site (or whatever CSS you had before this) probably included a lot of CSS that doesn’t play well with the Foundation CSS. That’s OK, it just needs some cleaning up. I ended up throwing out all of _sass/_layout.scss, and most of _base.scss; what I kept had to do with <pre>, <code>, and syntax-highlighting CSS that Foundation wasn’t handling correctly. I also had to fix it a bit.

You are, of course, welcome to use my setup - it even works well with compilation by Github pages. All the code for this site is available here, with this commit current at the time of this post.