spekulatius/laravel-commonmark-blog

A simple filesystem-based, SEO-optimized blog for Laravel using Commonmark.

0.11.1 2021-08-16 18:57 UTC

README

Laravel Commonmark Blog Library

Laravel Commonmark Blog

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The Laravel Commonmark Blog is kind of a static site generator for Laravel. It is a simple filesystem-based & SEO-optimized structure-blog for Laravel using Commonmark and Laravel SEO.

Goals & Main Concepts

The goal of this package is to separate the blog content from the application while keeping the content hosted under the root domain (e.g. project.com/blog instead of blog.project.com). This is preferred from an SEO point of view.

Maximal performance is achieved by avoiding rendering and passing content through the framework. The framework is only used initially to prepare and render the blog content. The rendered files are written directly to the public/-directory to avoid hitting the application. Assuming correct server configuration, the blog achieves (near) static-site performance levels.

For each file, a directory with an index.htm is created to avoid additional server configuration. For example, the file blog/my-article.md would be stored as blog/my-article/index.htm. Most web-server are already configured to serve these files directly.

With a focus on SEO, CommonMark is the logical choice: It is highly extensible allowing for any customization you might need to rank. There is also an example repository demonstrating the blog further.

Core Features

  • Support of both articles and article-listing pages. The example repo shows how to.

  • CommonMark: PHP CommonMark to support extensibility. By default, all .md files are converted to HTML files. The HTML files are stored in the public/-directory. Other file extensions such as .markdown are ignored, but copied over.

  • Frontmatter can be defined as global defaults in config/blog.php and on a per-article basis.

  • Assets such as videos, images, etc. as well as any other files are copied over 1:1.

  • Information about the generated articles are optionally stored in the cache. This allows adding elements dynamically to sidebars, footers, etc. based on the actually published articles and list pages.

  • Automatic Content Embargo: Articles with publication dates (published) in the future will be ignored, until the date passed. Note: Manually added links are not checked and will be included by default.

  • Partial Content Embargo: Files with the ending *.emb.md will replace original file (e.g. without .1.emb.md), once the modified date is passed.

  • hreflang: With hreflang way you can build multi-lingual sites.

    You can add an array with alternative language URLs to the frontmatter and it will be converted to hreflang tags.

    x-default will be set to a locale defined in the config-file.

    The locale in the frontmatter will be set on the app before rendering the templates.

SEO-Enhancements

There are several SEO improvements included or easily configurable via extensions:

  • Meta-tags, Twitter Card, and Facebook Open-Graph from the post-frontmatter or globally
  • Adding lazy-loading attributes to images (optional via extension)
  • Global definitions of rel-attributes for root-domain, sub-domains, and external links (optional via extension)

SEO improvements are usually active by default or can be configured using the config file.

Planned / Considered SEO-related enhancements

The following extension/improvements are considered for the blog package:

How to Use This Package

Below are examples of how to use the blog package.

How to Add a Post

Any blog page is following a simple structure using Frontmatter & Commonmark. The YAML Frontmatter is used to define post-level information such as titles, social sharing images, etc. with the CommonMark content following:

---
title: "The Love of Code"
description: "Why I love to code."
image: "/images/code.jpg"
---

# The Love Of Code

....

Default values can be set under defaults in the config file. If you are unsure which headers to include consult joshbuchea/HEAD.

How to Add an Article Listing Page

Listing pages can be created by adding a file called index.md within a directory. With this, the rendering method gets the following parameters passed in:

  • the complete frontmatter (the current list page' frontmatter merged with the defaults from config/blog.php,
  • the CommonMark-rendered content of the listing page as $content,
  • the $total_pages as the number of pages,
  • the $current_page for the number of the page,
  • the $base_url for the pagination pages, and
  • the $articles for the articles.

With this information, your Blade-file should be able to render a complete article listing page. In addition to the numbered page files an index file is added to allow a "root"-page without a page number. The following example explains this more.

If three listing pages with articles need to be created the following files would be created:

domain.com/blog/index.htm
domain.com/blog/1.htm
domain.com/blog/2.htm
domain.com/blog/3.htm

Most web-servers will serve these as:

domain.com/blog
domain.com/blog/1
domain.com/blog/2
domain.com/blog/3

Note:

  • By default, the articles includes also articles in further nested directories below.
  • All pages will automatically receive a canonical URL according to the page number.
  • The first page (here /blog/1) is only a copy of the index.htm to allow access with a number. It automatically contains a canonical URL to the variation without page number (here: /blog).

Multi-language blogs with hreflang

The blog module supports multi-lingual blogs using hreflang. Each language version of an article will live in a separate markdown file and is cross-references using hreflang:

English article:

---
title: "The Love of Code"
description: "Why I love to code."
canonical: "/the-love-of-code/"

locale: "en"
hreflang:
    de: "/de/die-liebe-zum-programmieren/"
---

# The Love Of Code

....

German article:

---
title: "Die Liebe zum Programmieren"
description: "Warum ich Programmieren liebe."
canonical: "/de/die-liebe-zum-programmieren/"

locale: "de"
hreflang:
    en: "/the-love-of-code/"
---

# Die Liebe zum Programmieren

....

Please note: This doesn't consider embargo (delayed publishing) at the moment. You will need to ensure that your site doesn't reference a not-yet-published article manually.

Requirements & Installation

Requirements

  • PHP 7.3 or higher
  • Laravel 6, 7 and 8
  • Serving of index.htm files by your web-server (default for Nginx)

Installation

This package is distributed using composer. If you aren't using composer you probably already know how to install a package. Here are the steps for composer-based installation:

composer require spekulatius/laravel-commonmark-blog

Next, publish the configuration file:

php artisan vendor:publish --provider="Spekulatius\LaravelCommonmarkBlog\CommonmarkBlogServiceProvider" --tag="blog-config"

Review, extend and adjust the configuration under config/blog.php as needed. The required minimum is a BLOG_SOURCE_PATH and some default frontmatter.

Adding Commonmark Extensions

You can add Commonmark extensions to your configuration file under extensions:

'extensions' => [
    new \SimonVomEyser\CommonMarkExtension\LazyImageExtension(),
],

Make sure to run the required composer install commands for the extensions before. Packages are usually not required by default.

In the configuration file config/blog.php, you can add additional configuration for the extensions under config.

Usage: Rendering of the Blog Posts

The build of the blog is done using an Artisan command:

php artisan blog:build

You can optionally pass some parameters, see php artisan help blog:build for details.

Usually, this step would be triggered as part of the deployment process. You can set up two repositories (one for your project and one for your blog) and let both trigger the build as needed.

You could also schedule the command in your app/Console/Kernel.php to ensure regular updates.

Hint: Make sure to update your sitemap.xml after each build.

Naturally, the way you integrate the blog in your project depends on the deployment tools and process.

Contributing & License

Please see CONTRIBUTING for details.

Released under the MIT license. Please see License File for more information.