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Inclusion files and arguments passing

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Inclusion files and arguments passing.

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This is the 3rd part of a series of articles about Jekyll, a blog aware static website creation tool. During the first part I’ve presented the quick startup to create a minimal autogenerated website using Jekyll while in the second part the differences between pages and posts were shown.

Where multiple pages or posts require the same part of code, even if little differences can happen between their usage, a great solution is to put the common code inside an inclusion file.

Every file saved into the _include folder could be included inside any other page or post using:

{% include filename %}

The whole code will be copied inside the page as if it was written inside the page. Obviously the included file can have other includes or other liquid tags.

If you look at the content of the file _layouts/page.html you can see:

---
layout: default
---
<div class="post">

  <header class="post-header">
    <h1>{{ page.title }}</h1>
  </header>

  <article class="post-content">
    {{ content }}
  </article>

</div>

The default file _layouts/post.html instead contains:

---
layout: default
---
<div class="post">

  <header class="post-header">
    <h1>{{ page.title }}</h1>
    <p class="meta">{{ page.date | date: "%b %-d, %Y" }}
      {% if page.author %} • {{ page.author }}{% endif %}
      {% if page.meta %} • {{ page.meta }}{% endif %}</p>
  </header>

  <article class="post-content">
    {{ content }}
  </article>

</div>

The two files are really similar, except a single line their whole content is the same. These two files are optimal candidates to use the inclusion tag with the advantage to have a single copy of the code and to avoid redundancies, while doing the code maintenance simpler and uniform whenever any change to the code would happen. If you have a single copy of a code, a change or fix will automatically be applied to any pages that use the same included file.

To handle the different line between the two files we could use a simple check to exclude such line from the rendered page by simply passing an argument to the included file, so let’s create a new file called _include/post_content.html:

<div class="post">

  <header class="post-header">
    <h1>{{ page.title }}</h1>
{% if include.meta_paragraph %}
    <p class="meta">{{ page.date | date: "%b %-d, %Y" }}
      {% if page.author %} • {{ page.author }}{% endif %}
      {% if page.meta %} • {{ page.meta }}{% endif %}</p>
{% endif %}
  </header>

  <article class="post-content">
    {{ content }}
  </article>

</div>

The include.meta_paragraph is a value that will be passed to the included file. If the passed value will be true then the paragraph will be added to the page else it will not be written at all.

So to change the _layouts/page.html file content to:

---
layout: default
---
{% include post_content.html meta_paragraph=false %}

The meta_paragraph will become include.meta_paragraph inside the included file and it will be checked to produce or omit the paragraph.

The _layouts/post.html will contain:

---
layout: default
---
{% include post_content.html meta_paragraph=true %}

Et voilà, both files now are similar and a single copy of the code is needed to handle both layout pages.


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