Adding reading time to blog posts

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One of the nicer usability features many content-heavy sites have started implementing is showing the estimated reading time for an article (or blog post) and it was something that I wanted to add to my own blog. The issue for me is that I host my blog using GitHub Pages and allow the standard Jekyll commit-build-publish sequence that’s built-in with GitHub Pages to actually publish my blog. That allows me to write a blog post anywhere, including using the GitHub web interface and add a new blog post. The downside is that GitHub pages only allows a whitelisted set of plugins. After some searching, I came across this post, which gave me a great starting point for what I wanted to do without needing to use a plugin.

The first thing I needed to do was add a new include file. I added a new file in the _includes\post folder named reading_time.html.

This file should be fairly straight-forward. The first thing it does is get the number of words from the content passed in to the include (in include.text) and then uses that number to determine the approximate number of minutes it will take to read the post.

In the header area of my post, in meta.html, I included this file and pass the post content to the include in the text parameter using the following {% include post/reading_time.html text=content %}.

To include the same reading time estimation in the index required a slightly different include, otherwise it would use the content of the actual index page rather than the content of the post. That include, which is in meta_index.html, is {% include post/reading_time.html text=post.content %}.

Now, my blog posts show estimated reading time.