Poking around a bit yesterday and this morning, I have been looking for an answer to the question: “How can I edit YAML frontmatter in a Jekyll post written with Emacs’s org-mode?”

Whew!! long question. I asked on the #emacs channel on irc.freenode.net, but no one had any answers there. I asked on stackoverflow and Google+ Emacs Community.

For the purposes of asking, I wrote up a gist showing succinctly the issues I was having and the final answer I got on G+.

The Problem:

I’ve been through the links on orgmode.com about doing this, but there’s still something missing about it for me.

Jekyll posts and pages begin with YAML frontmatter. This is placed in the .org file with #+BEGIN_HTML / #+END_HTML guards. That limits me to sub-editing that section (with C-c ') in html-mode. I can’t switch to yaml-mode and back to html-mode to edit it as YAML, though, as it somehow loses context and can’t switch out of the sub-edit mode.

Is there some way to do what I wish, i.e. edit the frontmatter in YAML mode?

File 1-with-html.org-raw shows what one is “supposed” to do, place the frontmatter ins the html block, and this renders exactly as I’d prefer it, but doesn’t let me edit the content in yaml-mode, only html-mode. This renders out correctly with running jekyll build.

File 4-with-yaml.org-raw shows what was suggested, with a src block for yaml text, and using the :results html flag. This ends up causing the block’s content to be rendered in markdown as a verbatum block, i.e., pushed to the right 4 spaces. That causes problems when run through jekyll, as it renders the frontmatter as content.

What I need is for that source YAML block to be rendered just as is, i.e. copied directly without changes at all. The initial suggestion to add :result html did not do as I’d hoped, sadly.

The org-mode post source, using html blocks

Using the standard #+BEGIN_HTML / #+END_HTML:

Give the desired output:


The org-mode post source, using src yaml blocks

Using #+begin_src yaml :

Permitted me to edit the block in YAML mode, but when it was output, it gave a verbatum markdown block for the YAML, so it looked like content rather than front matter:

    layout: post
    title: test post
      path: abc123
        - blah.png
        - bloo.png

# hello world

*this* is the **reason** for the <span class="underline">season</span>.

The Solution:

From user Left Right on the G+ Emacs community, I got the direction and help I need to make this work. The final answer was to tell babel how to execute YAML source:

(defun org-babel-execute:yaml (body params) body)

Now I have the output I want.

The org-mode source:

Generated the markdown:

Which in turn produced the html I want:

Finally, looking at the difference of the html generated with both html and yaml blocks, we see the only difference is the title:


  1. Add the above elisp code to your .emacs file or equivalent.

  2. Start your Jekyll blog post with:

#+STARTUP: showall indent
#+OPTIONS: toc:nil
#+BEGIN_SRC yaml :exports results :results value html
layout: post
title: The Title

You can now edit the frontmatter in yaml-mode using C-c '.

Then, when you run the markdown export, the frontmatter will be properly placed.



The next thing I need to figure out is how to properly use source blocks to insert code snippets into a post, and have babel emit the proper Jekyll code blocks with the right language selected.

Entering in the org file:

#+begin_src ruby
  # Ruby code
  puts "hello, world!"

and have it produce in the markdown:

{% highlight ruby %}
# Ruby code
puts "hello, world!"
{% endhighlight %}

Resulting in:

# Ruby code
puts "hello, world!"