Well, this is awkward. Despite migrating from WordPress to Jekyll only a couple of years ago, I am about 99% finished making a version that uses Eleventy (a.k.a. 11ty) instead. You can actually read this exact same post generated by Eleventy and/or generated by Jekyll.

I know what you're thinking:

  • "You're late to the game! Eleventy isn't even the new kid on the block anymore."
  • "So what? The end result is the same, and doesn't change how you write content."
  • "Who even are you? Why am I here?"

To that I say: That's fair... but I had already written this post before you started reading it.

Also, this is a long post. Better bloggers/teachers probably would have split this into multiple posts covering more concise topics, but not me. Everything I cover here is in my ryanthaut-11ty-site repository if you'd rather just browse through that instead.

Why Leave Jekyll? And Why Eleventy?

I'm not 100% certain this will be a permanent switch. I seem to have made an exact replica of my Jekyll-based site, but I may have missed something small. More concerning, though, is the thought that at some point in the future I may want to add or change something about my site that is possible with Jekyll that is not possible with Eleventy -- or is at least notably more difficult with Eleventy than with Jekyll. That seems like a weak excuse not to make the jump, but Jekyll is the more mature system, and thus has more support. plugins, and community knowledge than Eleventy (at least now).

That said, Jekyll's dependency upon Ruby has been a gripe of mine since I first switched to it. I simply don't use Ruby for anything else at all, and it using Ruby on Windows is known to be a less than ideal situation. The fact that Eleventy uses JavaScript is perhaps its most illustrious feature, considering just how popular JavaScript development is these days.

Eleventy was also created intentionally as an alternative to Jekyll, so making the switch can be quite simple. Don't get me wrong, I totally complicated it, but that's just how I roll, for better or for worse.

What I Did

Eleventy allows you more flexibility than Jekyll in a few key areas, like template engines, directory structure, and the build process. While I could have probably left everything as it was for Jekyll and configured my .eleventy.js file accordingly, I wanted to try some Eleventy features out, so this is what I actually did.

Some Restructuring

I started off by moving everything (minus tool/utility configuration files) into a new src/ directory at the project root, and then I moved my pages into a new src/pages/ directory (alongside my posts and projects directories for those respective collections). I reorganized my templates and partials into src/_includes/layouts/ and src/_includes/components/, respectively, so that Eleventy picks them up.

The most notably restructuring change was actually my SCSS files. Jekyll requires your style.scss file to be setup in a certain way, but Eleventy lets you use any tool you want for building. So I moved my style.scss file into a src/scss/ directory alongside my other SCSS files.

Build Processes


Eleventy doesn't have any built-in functionality for SASS/SCSS files, aside from copying them, which is totally fine. I used node-sass in my package.json to compile SCSS:

node-sass --include-path=./node_modules src/scss/style.scss src/assets/css/style.css

Then I just configured Eleventy (in .eleventy.js) to watch and copy my entire assets directory:

// don't use .gitignore (allows compiling sass to css into a monitored folder WITHOUT committing it to repo)


I also added the src/assets/css/ directory to my .gitignore file, since it doesn't make sense to commit both versions. That's why I had to use setUseGitIgnore(false), as I still wanted Eleventy to monitor and copy that directory. You could take it a step further and add src/scss/ to your .eleventyignore file, since Eleventy doesn't care about those files.


The only other "build"-related thing I did was to configure BrowserSync to render my 404 page for missing files without doing a redirect:

// Configure BrowserSync to serve the 404 page for missing files
callbacks: {
ready: (_err, browserSync) => {
const content_404 = require('fs').readFileSync('dist/404.html');

browserSync.addMiddleware('*', (_req, res) => {
// render the 404 content instead of redirecting

Switching from Liquid to Nunjucks

This is where I complicated things. In hindsight it may not have been worthwhile, but I decided to switch to Nunjucks for my template engine. Honestly, because the data structure is a bit different between Jekyll and Eleventy (see Paul Robert Lloyd's post "Turn Jekyll up to Eleventy"), you have to make some changes to your templates anyway.

Missing Nunjucks Filters

Here are the missing filters I added to my .eleventy.js file (most are from Paul's post):

// configure markdown-it (and set it as your markdown processor for consistency)
const md = require('markdown-it')({
html: true,
breaks: true,
linkify: true,

config.setLibrary('md', md);

// ...

config.addFilter('markdownify', str => md.render(str));
config.addFilter('jsonify', variable => JSON.stringify(variable));
config.addFilter('slugify', str => require('slugify')(str, {
lower: true,
replacement: '-',
remove: /[*+~.·,()''`´%!?¿:@]/g
where (uses lodash)
config.addFilter('where', (array, key, value) => require('lodash').filter(array, [key, value]));
date (uses moment.js)
config.addFilter('date', (date, format = '') => require('moment')(date).format(format));


Eleventy may be much younger than Jekyll, but it already has a decent selection of plugins available.

These are the ones I added:

The Final Bits and Pieces

After restructuring my project files and folders, tweaking the build process, updating my templates, and adding some plugins, there was just a handful of missing pieces.

A Collection of All Post Tags

Jekyll has a native collection of all tags on the site (in site.tags), which I simply ran through the length filter to display a tag count at the top of blog pages. Eleventy doesn't provide that collection natively, but it is easy to make your own tags collection:

config.addCollection('tags', collection => {
let tags = new Set();

collection.getAll().forEach(item => {
if ('tags' in item.data) {
for (const tag of item.data.tags) {

return [...tags];

Markdown Configuration

I had configured Jekyll to use kramdown for Markdown parsing, but since that is a Ruby library, it didn't make sense to try to use it with Eleventy. Instead, I stuck with Eleventy's recommended parser, markdown-it, but that meant there were some gaps to fill.

I needed to be able to add HTML classes to a single line (like .lead to paragraphs), and I needed to add wrapper classes to blocks of content (like .table .table-striped around tables, as well as .row & .col-* for responsive columns).

To accomplish that, I configured markdown-it to use the markdown-it-attrs (for single line classes) and markdown-it-container (for block/wrapper classes) plugins. I added a container configuration that lets me list one or more classes and applies them to a div that wraps the fenced content:

// Markdown Configuration
const md = require('markdown-it')({
html: true,
breaks: true,
linkify: true,
config.setLibrary('md', md
.use(require('markdown-it-container'), '', {
validate: () => true,
render: (tokens, idx) => {
if (tokens[idx].nesting === 1) {
const classList = tokens[idx].info.trim()
return `<div ${classList && `class="${classList}"`}>`;
} else {
return `</div>`;

And here's how I use them in Markdown:

This `<p>` tag will have the "lead" class added to it.{ .lead }

:::: row
::: col
## Column 1
The corresponding ".row" and ".col-md" classes need to be in your site's CSS; this markup just adds the correponding `<div>`s with those classes.
::: col-md
## Column 2
The corresponding ".row" and ".col-md" classes need to be in your site's CSS; this markup just adds the correponding `<div>`s with those classes.

Previous and Next Items in Collections (for Prev/Next Page Links)

I adopted the practice of putting links to previous and next blog posts at the bottom of each blog post when I moved to Jekyll. I'm not sure how much that feature is actually used on my site, but it was easy to implement in Jekyll.

In the template file(s) you could get the entire collection, then find the one you are currently working with (by comparing IDs/slugs), and then move to the items before and after that in the collection. But there's a better way of handling it, since you build out the collection in your configuration file anyway:

config.addCollection('posts', collection => collection
// ... (do things like filter and/or reverse here if you want)
.map((cur, i, all) => {
cur.data['siblings'] = {
'next': all[i - 1],
'prev': all[i + 1],
return cur;

That simply adds the previous and next items from the collection into a siblings property on the page, so you can reference them in a template:

{% if siblings.prev.url or siblings.next.url %}
{% if siblings.prev.url %}
<a href="{{ siblings.prev.url | url }}" title="{{ siblings.prev.data.title }}">Previous Post</a>
{% else %}
<span>No Previous Post</span>
{% endif %}
{% if siblings.next.url %}
<a href="{{ siblings.next.url | url }}" title="{{ siblings.next.data.title }}">Next Post</a>
{% else %}
<span>>No Next Post</span>
{% endif %}
{% endif %}

What I Would Consider Doing Differently

If I were to migrate another site from Jekyll to Eleventy, after having done this one, I'm not really sure if I would do anything differently if my goal was to keep the same look and feel. The biggest hurdle I had was converting templates, but, like I mentioned, even if I had stuck with Liquid (instead of switching to Nunjucks), my templates would need to be updated for the new data structure that Eleventy provides for page and collection data.

However, if I was going to re-make the site (i.e. create a new "theme" and/or drastically change/reorganize content), then I think I would find a starter project that better matched my needs, rather than doing it mostly from scratch.

What I Might Do Next

I will probably write a follow-up blog post in another year or two, since that's what happened when I migrated to Jekyll. Or maybe I will finally start blogging more consistently.

One thing that seems really interesting to me right now (while both the Eleventy and the Jekyll sites are "active") would be to make a standalone repository just for site content, and then maybe use git submodules to automatically propagate that content to both sites (which would probably require hooks and/or build commands). As cool (and probably over-complicated) as that sounds, though, I'm not sure it is very practical, since I don't foresee keeping both versions of the site live for very long.

I am thinking about dropping Bootstrap and switching to Tailwind, as I have mostly switched to Tailwind for other projects anyway. I'm not sure if I would keep the same theme, though, or if I would completely redesign the site. I rarely get to design websites anymore, and most of the web apps I build for clients intentionally use Material Design, so I haven't really scratched that creative design itch for a long time now.

Or maybe I will convert this to Gatsby or Next.js, and then write a blog post or two about that.