Today, I wanted to create an website for my new tool DocumentDb Explorer. As the source code is hosted on GitHub I wanted to use GitHub Pages to host it also.

GitHub Pages

With GitHub Pages you can host freely your website from your GitHub repository. You just need to push your static content or Jekyll website to a branch called gh-pages and they’ll publish it on <your-username><repo-name> a few seconds later.

Create your gh-pages branch

That’s nice, but I started with an existing repo and didn’t wanted to mix my work on the app with the website. The idea is to create an orphan branch:

git checkout --orphan gh-pages

When you create an orphan branch, git creates a new branch without any parent commits. You can add anything you want to that branch and it’s totally separate from the main history, but stored on the same .git directory.

I then cleaned my directory and added the two needed pieces to have a nice website, a Jekyll config file (_config.yml) and the file that will be renderer as my home page.

The _config.yml file is very simple:

theme: jekyll-theme-cayman
title: DocumentDb Explorer
show_downloads: "true"
google_analytics: <YOUR-GOOGLE-KEY>

It’s now time to push the new branch to GitHub.

git push -u origin gh-pages

The gh-pages branch is now pushed to GitHub and the site is available. For later changes git push will be enough.


Good, now I have two branches and I have to git checkout <branch> everytime I want to make change to the website or the application.

My goal is to have a both branches on the same local directory and have each directory linked to his own remote branch. To achieve that, I need to use a feature of git called worktree that let me manage multiple working trees attached to the same repository.

To create my directory structure correctly I need to execute these commands:

mkdir <my-root-folder>
cd <my-root-folder>

git clone<user>/<repo> work # this create a work folder where I will have my app
cd work
git checkout gh-pages # pull down remote branch and make it a local one
git checkout master # switch back to the branch matching the directory tree

mkdir ..\gh-pages # create the gh-pages folder as the same level the work folder
git worktree add ..\gh-pages gh-pages # checkout the gh-pages branch into the local gh-pages folder


Now, changing from on branch to the other is simple as changing the current directory using cd.

λ  dir

    Directory: C:\Users\sacha\Sources\<my-root-folder>

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
d-----       22.12.2017     10:40                gh-pages
d-----       22.12.2017     10:39                work

λ  cd .\gh-pages\
C:\Users\sacha\Sources\<my-root-folder>\gh-pages [gh-pages ≡]
λ  git status
On branch gh-pages
Your branch is up-to-date with 'origin/gh-pages'.

nothing to commit, working tree clean
λ  cd ..\work\
C:\Users\sacha\Sources\<my-root-folder>\work [master ≡]
λ  git status
On branch master
Your branch is up-to-date with 'origin/master'.

nothing to commit, working tree clean