damon bauer's blog
developer, amateur woodworker


Blog With Eleventy, Netlify & GitHub

I have blogged on and off for a long time, using Wordpress, Jekyll and a few other random tools. I've never stuck with it (this iteration will probably suffer the same fate, if I'm honest).

I've been feeling the pull to just write stuff down - even if it's not well formed, organized or polished. More of a recording of what I was doing/thinking/learning at the time. Thus, this iteration of a blog was born.

One of the most annoying things of blogging to me is hosting & infrastructure. Things have progressed quite rapidly in the space of static site generators, so I thought I could make this work. I've landed on a setup that is pretty nice so far & wanted to document it.


To build the actual posts & pages, I chose Eleventy, and I cloned the eleventy-blog-mnml repo because it is super basic, which is what I enjoy. I wanted the least amount of features and friction to start.

Here's the repo that powers the site you're on right now.


I tried using GitHub Actions for the first time to handle building the site. It's a small sample size, but it works seamlessly & I am impressed with how fast this process goes.

This is the GitHub action I'm using to build the site using Eleventy & push the built artifact to the gh-pages branch of the repo.

name: Build & Deploy

      - master

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    - name: Checkout
      uses: actions/checkout@master
    - name: Build and Deploy
      uses: JamesIves/github-pages-deploy-action@master
        ACCESS_TOKEN: $
        BASE_BRANCH: master # The branch the action should deploy from.
        BRANCH: gh-pages # The branch the action should deploy to.
        FOLDER: _site # The folder the action should deploy.
        BUILD_SCRIPT: npm install && npm run build # The build script the action should run prior to deploying.

Two things to note:

  1. You'll need to generate a personal access token, and store it in your repo secrets (Settings > Secrets) as ACCESS_TOKEN.
  2. This uses an already built action, github-pages-deploy-action, to handle pushing the Eleventy built site (which is in the ./_site folder) to the repo's gh-pages branch.


Before this, I'd never used Netlify, but I've heard it is quite an enjoyable developer experience & I now agree.

I created an account and within 5 minutes I had purchased a domain name, got a free SSL certificate, and had a deploy system built to watch the gh-pages branch of my repo.

About the only thing I changed was Settings > Build & Deploy > Continuous Deployment > Deploy Contexts, where I set production-branch to gh-pages.

All Together

The whole system works like this:

  1. I make a branch, where I author a new post.
  2. Make a PR against master and merge the PR.
  3. The GitHub action kicks off, which runs Eleventy to build the site into the ./_site folder & pushes that to the gh-pages branch.
  4. Netlify sees a change to the gh-pages branch and re-deploys the contents of the branch to the domain.
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