Digital Native ARKives

Rambling about whatever I want

Github Pages, Travis CI, and Pelican


Much of this project is based off of Humberto's blog post linked in the references below. Basically, I wanted a cheap(free) way of hosting a simple website for anything I might want to host. In addition to this, I wanted it to be at least mildly personalized website that wasn't one of the 5 avilable Github Pages themes. I prefer Python over Ruby anyway, and would like to get more experience with using it for things other than scripting, so here we are!

For reference, I did this on MacOS Catalina with Homebrew installed.

Github Setup

First, you'll want to create a Github Pages repo. For your personal site, there doesn't seem to be a way to serve off of any other branch than master. Start by creating a different default branch for the repo. I'm doing this prior to going into Github and setting it up there, and I used pelican for my default repo.

Install Pelican, Markdown, and ghp-import: pip3 install pelican markdown ghp-import

Repository setup:

cd; mkdir git; cd git

Answer the prompts as you want, until you get a question. Answer yes and then answer no to the subsequent prompts until you get a question about Github Pages. Answer yes to this one(obviously).

Now you've got a site(kinda)!

My next step was to set up a requirements.txt, which we'll need for the TravisCI set up.


After that, I wanted to get some information pages established. Specifically, I made a and page. I put those pages in content/pages/ which is where they will be parsed and built.

Any content you write will need to go into content/.

Okay, so now that you have some content, you'll want to build this manually. First, make sure you've commited your new content to Github repo:

git add .
git commit -m "initial commit"
git push -u origin pelican

Then, within the root of your Github site, run ghp-import. This will build your website and then force the build site into the master branch on your repo, this is why we're storing the source files in another repo.

Now, you should be able navigate to and see your (unoriginal) personal site! For customization, I'll leave that up to you. I don't want to document my setup because it's likely to change and I don't think it'll matter if that part is documented in the long run. If anything, that'll be a separate blog.

Travis CI Setup

Now that you have a site that works, let's focus on getting Travis CI set up and configured to build your website automatically whenever you push to your source branch. This means you can update your website from Github without needing access to a build machine!

Log into Travis CI with your Github account and connect your repo to it. There's plenty of documentation surrounding this specifically, so I don't want to put it here where it can get out of date.

Before Travis CI can manage pushes to your repo, which is how ghp-import works, you'll need to create a new SSH key which Travis CI will integrate pretty easily into the repo.

First, install the Travis CI CLI tool, here it is for MacOS, I trust you can find it for your platform of choice:

brew install travis

Then, you'll want to create a new SSH key in the root of your pelican branch repo directory (no password):

ssh-keygen -f publish-key

Finally, you'll use travis to encrypt and store the key within Travis CI, allowing your build containers to push your built site:

travis encrypt-file publish-key

(also, don't forget to do some clean up!):

rm publish-key

Now that that's set up, let's get your .travis.yml committed, please read the comments:

sudo: false
  - pelican
language: python
# change the line bellow with the output of the command: travis encrypt-file publish-key but keep the final part: -out ~/.ssh/publish-key -d
- openssl aes-256-cbc -K $encrypted_120135e51708_key -iv $encrypted_120135e51708_iv -in publish-key.enc -out ~/.ssh/publish-key -d
- chmod u=rw,og= ~/.ssh/publish-key
- echo "Host" >> ~/.ssh/config
- echo "  IdentityFile ~/.ssh/publish-key" >> ~/.ssh/config
# replace username/username with your username
- git remote set-url origin
- git fetch origin -f master:master
- pip install --upgrade pip
- pip install -r requirements.txt
- make github
- git checkout master
- git add CNAME
- git commit -m "added CNAME"
- git push origin master

Everything from before after_script: is from Humberto's post linked in the references section. The after_script section is what I use to ensure my CNAME persists across ghp-import pushes because I use a custom domain like a cool kid. If you don't need it, scrap the whole section, otherwise set the CNAME_DOMAIN in your Travis CI environment variables (Settings > Environment Variables).

Throw the above YAML into that file and commit both this and the encrypted SSL file to your repo:

git add .
git commit -m "travis files"
git push origin

After that commit, your Travis CI pipeline should kick in and start building you site automatically!


I hope you enjoyed reading through the set up of my website, and my first blog post. I expect most of what I post here will be pseudo-documentation for what I work on randomly in my personal time.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Primary documentation
  2. Pelican documenation