Blogdown site personalization

There are many existing blog posts and help pages explaining how to build a Hugo site using blogdown, the best of which is Creating Websites with R Markdown by Yihui Xie, Amber Thomas, and Alison Presmanes Hill. But, as when learning anything new, I found myself asking questions about Hugo site formatting and functionality that were not answered by the “how-to” guides. Here, I’ve collected links and code snippets addressing questions about how to toggle features and change the appearance of blogdown site elements. For sure, there are better ways to implement the changes I describe, and my mixed use of markdown syntax with HTML can be considered hacky at best. But, for those like me who are unfamiliar with CSS, I hope this is useful.

Note: some of the directory structures and file names mentioned herein are specific to the hyde-hyde theme, though the edits should be applicable to the analogous files from other Hugo flavors.

How to scale images and format image captions

When creating a blogdown post, standard image markdown can be used to insert pictures with captions.

![Caption text](/path/to/image.png "Alternative text")

While simple and functional, I think the aesthetics can be improved. First, by default, images are scaled to 100% of the page width, but I think some flanking whitespace looks nice. RStudio IDE supports Pandoc notation, so you can simply include a percent width parameter in brackets after the image. Adding center tags aligns the picture in the center of the page, but newlines between the tags and the image text are needed in order to render the caption.

# This:

![Caption text](/path/to/image.png "Alternative text"){ width=50% }


# Not this:
![Caption text](/path/to/image.png "Alternative text"){ width=50% }

Second, I found the default caption text to be too similar to the text in the post body. To remedy this, I include the style tag with attributes for p.caption in the body of my Rmarkdown posts, specifying the size, color, alignment, and left/right margins of the caption as a percent of page width.

p.caption {
  font-size: 0.9em;
  text-align: center;
  color: #7f1cad;
  margin-right: 5%;
  margin-left: 5%;

Altogether, these code snippets make for nicely scaled images with captions that stand out from the main text.


![So regal. Such panache.](/img/posts/sunny.jpg "His royal majesty, Sunny"){ width=50% }


So regal. Such panache.

How to add and change icons for social accounts

The config.toml file from the hyde-hyde example site includes a preconfigured list of social accounts that can be included in the sidebar, some of which are commented out. Some popular websites are not included in this list; specifically, I wanted to include an icon linking to my Stack Exchange network account. To accomplish this, I edited layouts/partials/sidebar/social.html to include the following:

{{ with }}
    <a href="{{.}}" rel="me"><i class="fab fa-stack-exchange fa-lg" aria-hidden="true"></i></a>
    {{ end }}

Then, I added the stackexchange parameter with my Stack Exchange user ID and name to config.toml:

## Social Accounts
    stackexchange = "52196/acvill"
    linkedin = "albert-vill-a457821a1"
    twitter = "_AlbertVill"
    orcid = "0000-0001-5982-0298"
    email = ""

Note that the order of icons in the sidebar is determined by the order of sites provided in social.html and not the order of parameters listed in []. Explicitly, the left-right order of icons in the sidebar corresponds to the top-bottom order of sites in social.html. From my searching, Hugo seems to source its unicode glyphs from Font Awesome. This means that you can easily personalize your Hugo site by swapping out the default icon HTML for the HTML provided on each Font awesome icon page. For example, hyde-hyde uses to represent email.

<i class="fas fa-at"></i>

But this can be swapped for a variety of other icons.

<i class="fab fa-envelope"></i>
<i class="fab fa-envelope-square"></i>
<i class="fab fa-paper-plane"></i>

How to change page width, sidebar color, and other parameters

When viewed on a desktop, hyde-hyde leaves a lot of white space on the right side of the page. Ryan Cummings describes a simple fix in their blog. Just navigate to assets/scss/hyde-hyde/_variables.scss and edit the $content-max-width variable.

Note that this file controls other site parameters, too, like $sidebar-color and the font families used in rendered posts.