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Finally A Website On

Creating content for websites can be very painful from shell/ terminal. While the terminal can be used for executing commands, running the site and for many other purposes, we still need a visual code editor for creating advanced visual components and written content for webpages. For that we either need a desktop enviroment with code editors installed or an online editor with visual editing.

Some popular code open source (free) editor for a desktop type environment are Visual Studio Code by Microsoft, Atom by Github and Sublime Text by Jon Skinner, Will Bond. These come with very advanced code editing features and are very easy to use.

In this tutorial however we are not going to use a desktop enviroment so rather than installing a local editor we will switch to web based editor. Some examples of hosting services that provide such editors are

Most of these services accept github logins as accounts (another good use of your github ID). These come integrated with a shell (running on a virtual machine) that we can use just like any linux server for development purposes only. If you want to host a website or need a VM you will have to purchase subscription according to their plans and pricing.

For this tutorial we will use GCP - Google Cloud Platform. Please refer to the Setup Tutorial for Google Cloud Console.

Google Cloud Code editor

Once you have setup your cloud shell environment fire up the terminal in your browser and make a clone of the repo for the website we created in the previous tutorial

git clone

You will be able to visualize the repository and its folder structure in the google cloud code editor.

Setup a mkdocs project

We will use our github repo directory to initialize the mkdocs project.

Initilaize mkdocs

mkdocs new  .      # initialize 'mkdocs.yml' and docs/ in current directory

At this point your directory structure will look like this: 2 new items will be added to the current directory: docs/ directory is created with an file in it and mkdocs.yml config file.

├── docs
│   └──
└── mkdocs.yml

Configure mkdocs.yml

# mkdocs.yml -- MkDocs configuration, all *.md files relative to docs/

site_name: You Awesome Website name

    name: material


We will be using Google's material theme (same as this tutorial website). This is one of the most popular themes on the we and very easy to get started with. It also comes with in-built search capabilities within the document hosted in the sites. Read: Material Features

You can also try readthedocs theme that come packaged with mkdocs. Just update the theme name and rebuild your website to view the changes.

Create Documents

We will already have a docs/ directory to write files into. All the markdown documents need to be placed inside this as [filename].md files. As usual we should start with an file (already created by default) as entrypoint to this directory. If you create subdirectories it is recommended that you have an in each of them as entrypoints. However mkdocs will parse you files in order and show them in the navivgation menu even if you dont have an index file in subsequent subdirectories inside the docs/ directory.

Lets create 2 document like this

To see the changes we made and how our site looks like we can start a local server inbuilt in mkdocs using serve option.

python -m mkdocs serve  
# OR simply     
mkdocs serve  # if mkdocs is in your $PATH

This will generate an output

INFO    -  Building documentation...
INFO    -  Cleaning site directory
[I 190106 11:53:50 server:298] Serving on
[I 190106 11:53:50 handlers:59] Start watching changes
[I 190106 11:53:50 handlers:61] Start detecting changes

Take a nope of the port : 8000.

  • If you are using a local desktop just navigate to on your browser to view your mkdocs website.

  • If you are using GCP (google cloud console) you should configure preview port to 8000 to view it from google cloud console.

In this tutorial we are using GCP so we need to configure preview port to 8000 and click preview link. This will open a new browser tab/ window and you can view your website. mkdocs -serve by default enables live editing so you can see changes live while you are editing the markdown documents.

Build the documents

Once we have finalized all the markdown documents we need to build it. Building means generating the html files from the mkarkdown document we wrote in the docs/ directory.

Build HTML

python -m mkdocs build     
# OR simply 
mkdocs build    # if mkdocs is in your $PATH

The above statement will generate the following output

INFO    -  Cleaning site directory
INFO    -  Building documentation to directory: /home/your/

Note the subdirectory site/ is created in your mkdocs project which will contain all the html files that are ready to be hosted on any webserver.

Example: For 3 markdown documents,, written in docs/ the following show the directory structure created after building the site.

tree -L 2
├── docs
│   ├──
│   ├──
│   └──
├── mkdocs.yml
└── site
    ├── 404.html
    ├── assets
    ├── helloworld
    ├── index.html
    ├── markdown
    ├── search
    ├── sitemap.xml
    └── sitemap.xml.gz

In this example you will notice that for every markdown file ( document in docs/ there is a corresponding html file (xxx.html) created in site/. If you have subdirectories in the markdown docs directory, it will be replicated in the site directory.

Publish them on

The site/ directory contains your final wesite. You can copy its contents to anyserver and point the url to it path. Your website will be up and running.

If you want to host this site to be at your home then you have to clean up the repo and put all the contents of site/ directory at out repo root directory.

In this tutorial however we have a different entrypoint index.html at the home of the website. We will upload the entire repo to github and so we need to manually point to the site/ directory from our landing page index.html which we created in the previous tutorial.

Let update the repo

git add --all
git commit -m "site updated"
git push

Check your online repo at and erify your site is up at Note the /site added to your URL since we are hosting from a subdirectory at inside your repo root directory. Your website should be up and it will identical to what you previewed at the GCP console.

Now lets link this site to our index.html landing page which we created in the root directory (previous tutorial)

Use the code editor or terminal to edit the index.html file in root dir

# from root dir:
nano index.html

Update one the navigation links on top right in the same way. Replace the text or # in the href= tags with approproate links to your pages.

<li class="Navigation-listItem">
    <a href="site/" class="Navigation-link"> My Documents </a> </li>

The link will show as 'My Document' and point to using the tag link in <a href="site/"

Finally add, commit and push to github

# shortcut for all git commands: in nano editor - write message, save and exit nano
git add --all && git commit --all && git push

And that is it. You can continue developing the site and add pages.

Summary of the steps

  • add markdowns in doc/ directory
  • build them (from the mkdocs root where the mkdocs.yml exists)
  • commit and push the repo to github
  • view the website at