Why blog?

Of digital streams, campfires, and gardens.

By Monty Reynolds

January 25, 2021

Why blog?


We have a distill website. It has a nice about page, courtesy of the postcards package. Now, we can add a blog to it. Let’s use this last activity time in our breakouts to “choose your own adventure”- three options:

  1. Add a blog
  2. Add/hone your site theme
  3. Add some content to show off your R programming skills!

Add a blog

Back in your console, we can add a blog, using distill:


If you do this with a blog already, it just adds a single post. But if you do this without posts set up, it does some nice things for you:

  1. Creates a directory called _posts/ to hold all your future blog posts.

  2. Creates a new post with a “slug” including the date and the name of the post (here, mine was "welcome").

Your new post should open up - go ahead and knit this post. Posts in distill need to be knit intentionally, so they will never be automatically built when you rebuild your website.

We also probably want to add a listing page to list all our blog posts. Do this by adding a blank .Rmd file to your project root, I’ll call mine blog.Rmd but there is no magic to this file name:


Then open up your new blog.Rmd and add a YAML (no content below the YAML):

title: "Blog"  # any name you want here
listing: posts # do this exactly

Finally, add a link to your blog in your upper navbar so people can actually find it! Do this by editing _site.yml one last time (remember, since my listing .Rmd is named blog.Rmd, then the href I want to link to is blog.html):

    - text: "Home"
      href: index.html
    - text: "About"
      href: about.html
    - text: "Blog"      # add
      href: blog.html   # add

Now, admire your final polished product!

Switch the homepage

Now you may be wishing that your postcards page was your homepage- the place where visitors first land when they visit your website. The homepage in a distill website is named index.Rmd, so we need to remove the current index.Rmd file and replace it with about.Rmd. But we cannot just rename the files…

If you open up index.Rmd, you should see this yaml:

title: "iyo"
description: |
    Welcome to the website. I hope you enjoy it!
site: distill::distill_website

That site key is very important to keep in the index.Rmd file. Steps:

  1. Let’s start by adding site: distill::distill_website to the yaml of your postcards page, mine is named about.Rmd.

  2. After doing that, you can delete index.Rmd.

  3. Next, rename about.Rmd -> index.Rmd.

  4. Finally, clean up your _site.yml - you can remove the link we added above to about.html.

Re-build your site and your shining face should greet you from the homepage!


Follow the docs here: https://rstudio.github.io/distill/website.html#theming


Need inspiration? Try one of our example themes.

Remember your _site.yml file? Add the theme line there:

name: "Introduce Yourself Online"
title: "iyo-distill"
description: |
output_dir: "docs"
theme: iyo.css           << here!
    - text: "Home"
      href: index.html
    - text: "About"
      href: about.html
output: distill::distill_article