This article is inspired by this and this.

With Travis CI, every time new change is made to the site repo, a build will kick off on Travis and deploy the updated site to Github pages. This is not a trivial process, so this article describes the idea behind each piece and documents details.

Github Pages

Github pages is a github service to host static web sites. It works by rendering static files (HTML, etc.) that are checked in as a github repo at a special URL (e.g,

Nowadays people don't write static HTMLs manually, but rather writing articles/posts in markdowns (or other markups) and relying on other tools to generate the HTMLs/stylesheets.

There are many of those static site generators. Here's a nice list of the most popular ones.

One problem using these tools with github pages is that you have to have a computer with the tool installed to generate the site and then publish it. If you're somewhere with no access to the tool then you can't publish posts.

With the help of Travis CI, this scenario becomes possible:

  1. create a post directly via Github repo web UI.
  2. Travis automatically invokes build process
  3. Travis deploys the updated site to Github pages

Setup github repo

There're many ways to setup Github pages. I use the following setup:

  1. branch master contains the generated site, which will be rendered directly
  2. branch source contains the raw articles and files necessary to generate the site

Follow instruction for to scaffold the source branch. Your source branch should look like this:

|   .gitignore
|   .travis.yml
|   db.json
|   package.json
|   _config.yml
|   \--- ...
|   \---_posts
    \--- ...

Hexo themes

[Hexo themes][themes] can be downloaded. But do not git clone into the repo as you can't udpate and commit the theme's _config.yml as it will be treated as a git submodule. Instead, download it and unzip into your repo.

Hexo configs

Both the site-level and theme-level _config.yml needs to be updated. Refer to the Hexo doc and the theme doc on how to update them.

Hexo Workflow

  1. hexo clean
  2. hexo generate
  3. hexo deploy

Once that worked, you can start working on enabling travis.

Setup Travis CI

Travis listens to your repo's commit event and invokes build process specified in the repo's .travis.yml file of the triggering branch. travis script is run in a Linux environment so you can use shell commands.

I put the actual site generating commands in package.json so I can use npm to run them:

"scripts": {
  "build": "hexo clean && hexo generate && hexo deploy"

Then in .travis.yml:

language: node_js
- 6.0.0
  - source

install: npm install

- git config --global "KL"
- git config --global ""
- sed -i "s/__GITHUB_TOKEN__/${__GITHUB_TOKEN__}/" _config.yml

script: npm run build

Note that in order for Travis to deploy to github repo, it needs to have access. I got the github access token from here. Then the repo can be accessed via URL https://<TOKEN><user>/<repo>. For security reason this token should NOT be checked in but should be specified in Travis repo settings as an environment variable. Then replace the URL in hexo config with this vairable at build time.

In hexo _config.yml:

  type: git
  branch: master

__GITHUB_TOKEN__ is replaced with sed by travis script.