Create a static site with Hakyll, Github and Travis CI

August 12, 2014

“Static sites are fast, secure, easy to deploy, and manageable using version control.” So states the webpage for Hakyll, a great way to set up a static site or blog. It allows you to write blog posts by simply editing markdown in git, all the while having access to delicious Haskell for deeper customizations.

You can configure things to let you write blog posts directly on Github’s interface and use Travis CI to deploy your changes. Most day-to-day blogging will not require using Haskell at all or even having the Haskell environment installed on the blogger’s machine.

I’ll show you how to set everything up, including an optimized Travis config that can deploy changes in less than a minute. There is some existing information online about doing this sort of thing, but it’s all outdated in one way or another.

We’ll be using Github Pages to serve the final assets. I’ll assume you’re making a static site for a Github organization called myorg and want it to live at


  1. Create a Github organization. E.g. myorg
  2. Create a project myorg/
  3. The master branch will be repeatedly overwritten and committed later on by Travis, so you won’t make any edits there directly. For now add a file to the root of the master branch called CNAME containing the string
  4. Create two A records in the DNS for pointing at and respectively.
  5. Generate the base Hakyll project.

    # in an empty directory of your choice
    # NOT in the git repo you've been using
    cabal sandbox init
    cabal install -j --disable-documentation hakyll
    cabal exec hakyll-init
  6. Create an orphan source branch in your git repo and copy the generated files there.

    git checkout --orphan source
    git rm CNAME
    cp -r /path/to/generated/myorg/* .
    git add .
  7. Reuse the cabal sandbox you created earlier:

    cp -r /where/you/ran/cabal/install/.cabal-sandbox .
  8. Keep build artifacts out of git by adding these lines to .gitignore

  9. Run your new site locally to see that it works!

    cabal sandbox init
    cabal run rebuild
    cabal watch
    # now load http://localhost:8000
  10. Create .travis.yml and add the following boilerplate:

    language: haskell
    ghc: 7.8
      - source
      - git submodule foreach --recursive 'git checkout master; git ls-files | grep -v README | grep -v CNAME | xargs -r git rm'
      - curl | tar xJ
      - cabal sandbox init
      - cabal configure --disable-library-profiling --disable-tests --disable-library-coverage --disable-benchmarks --disable-split-objs
      - git config --global "$GIT_EMAIL"
      - git config --global "$GIT_NAME"
    script: cabal run -j build
      - cd _site
      - export REMOTE=$(git config remote.origin.url | sed 's/.*:\/\///')
      - git remote add github https://${GH_TOKEN}@${REMOTE}
      - git add --all
      - git status
      - git commit -m "Built by Travis ( build $TRAVIS_BUILD_NUMBER )"
      - git push github master:master | grep -v http
  11. Generate a Github auth token.
  12. Set encrypted environment variables to allow Travis to commit to the master branch

    gem install travis
    travis encrypt -r myorg/ --add GH_NAME="J. Doe" GH_TOKEN=xxxxxxxx
  13. Commit all the files.
  14. Enable Travis for your repo. Instructions here.
  15. Push the source branch to Github.
  16. Watch the deploy progress at

Now you can create and edit blog posts right in Github and your changes get deployed automatically.

(optional) Generating a custom cabal sandbox for Travis

You can use my shared cabal sandbox on Travis as done above, or you can build your own. It’s a little trickier. Use this Travis config as a start. It takes advantage of post-build deployment to S3.

language: haskell
ghc: 7.8
  - source
  - travis_retry sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:hvr/ghc
  - travis_retry sudo apt-get update
  - travis_retry sudo apt-get install --force-yes happy-1.19.3 alex-3.1.3
  - export PATH=/opt/alex/3.1.3/bin:/opt/happy/1.19.3/bin:$PATH
  - cabal sandbox init
  - cabal install -j --disable-documentation -fhttps pandoc
  - cabal install -j --disable-documentation --disable-tests --reorder-goals
  provider: s3
  access_key_id: AKIAIYJJY5B5UWSU3CFQ
  bucket: YOUR_BUCKET
  region: us-west-1
  skip_cleanup: true
  local-dir: ".cabal-sandbox"
  upload-dir: hakyll
  acl: !ruby/string:HighLine::String public_read
    repo: myorg/
    branch: source
    secure: YOUR_SECURE_KEY
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