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Tutorial: Rules, routes and compilers

Basic rules

While changing the content is nice, you’ll have time for that once your site is configured. Configuration is done using the site.hs file: let’s take a look at it!

main :: IO ()
main = hakyll $ do
    ...

Hakyll configurations are in the Rules monad. In order to run them, the hakyll function is used, so your main function usually starts this way. hakyllWith is also available, this function allows you specify a custom Configuration.

Some actual rules look like this:

match "images/*" $ do
    route   idRoute
    compile copyFileCompiler

match "css/*" $ do
    route   idRoute
    compile compressCssCompiler

This is a declarative DSL: the order in which you write the rules make little difference, Hakyll will use dependency tracking to determine the correct order.

We group the different rules using match. The first argument for match is a Pattern. The OverloadedStrings extension allows us to just write Strings here, which are interpreted as globs — all files in the images/ directory, and all files in the css/ directory.

However, we can see that one item makes no use of match, but uses create instead.

create ["archive.html"] $ do
    route idRoute
    compile $ do
        ...

Don’t pay attention to the somewhat complicated-looking stuff in compile – this will become clear soon. The real question here is why we use create instead of match.

The answer is simple: there is no archive.html file in our project directory! So if we were to use match, no file would be matched, and hence, nothing would appear in the output directory. create, however, ensures the items listed are always produced.

Basic routes

The route function is used for determining the output file. For example, you probably want to write the processed contents of contact.markdown to _site/contact.html and not _site/contact.markdown.

idRoute is a commonly used route and just keeps the filename. We use this for e.g. the images and CSS files.

setExtension is another common route which takes a single argument: the desired extension of the resulting file. In order to route contact.markdown to _site/contact.html, use:

route $ setExtension "html"

customRoute is a more advanced higher-order function which allows for even more customization. You want to route contact.markdown to _site/nwodkram.tcatnoc? No problem, just use:

route $ customRoute $ reverse . toFilePath

More information can be found in the Routes module.

Basic compilers

The compile function determines how the content is produced for a certain item. compile takes a value of the type Compiler (Item a). Let’s look at some common examples:

Compilers are very flexible: Compiler is a Monad and Item is a Functor.

A good example to illustrate the Monad instance for Compiler is

relativizeUrls :: Item String -> Compiler (Item String)

This compiler traverses your HTML and changes absolute URLs (e.g. /posts/foo.markdown into relative ones: ../posts/foo.markdown). This is extremely useful if you want to deploy your site in a subdirectory (e.g. jaspervdj.be/hakyll instead of jaspervdj.be). Combining this with the pandocCompiler gives us:

pandocCompiler >>= relativizeUrls :: Compiler (Item String)

For a real website, you probably also want to use templates in order to give your pages produced by pandoc a nice layout. We tackle this in the next tutorial.

Other tutorials

The other tutorials can be found here.

Documentation inaccurate or out-of-date? Found a typo?

Hakyll is an open source project, and one of the hardest parts is writing correct, up-to-date, and understandable documentation. Therefore, the authors would really appreciate it if you would give feedback about the tutorials, and especially report errors or difficulties you encountered. If you have a github account, you can use the issue system. Thanks! If you run into any problems, all questions are welcome in the above google group, or you could try the IRC channel, #hakyll on freenode.