Code fenced blocks, Pygments and line numbers with jekyll

Update: With the Jekyll v1 release, the old plugin broke, so now you can find in this page the new code. While waiting for an official commit/pull request, you can stick with this fix or, if you are using an older version of Jekyll, you can use the old plugin

When I started this personal blog project, the first feature I wanted was code highlighting. Markdown with Pygments is the right man for the job, and Jekyll has nice support, so I began writing some code.

The first problem I meet was using Pygments with code fenced blocks (did someone say three backticks?). Using something like {% highlight ruby %} is not my style, but switching rendering engine to redcarpet solved the problem at a glance.

Even finding a nice color theme wasn't hard: Solarized is a wonderful palette from Ethan Schoonover.

Solarized is a sixteen color palette (eight monotones, eight accent colors) designed for use with terminal and gui applications.

Implementing it needs only a CSS theme, found on this gist which provides the light scheme, but on this repository you can find even the dark theme.

So we're going to link the theme in our <head> tag

    <!-- Solarized theme for highlighting code -->
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="/assets/css/solarized.css">

Here I'm using /assets/css/ folder because it's the way Jekyll Bootstrap works, but feel free to put it wherever you want.

After code highlighting, another feature I needed was line numbers. It could be helpful to have them, so I found an article by Alex Peattie, who explained how to do it in a wonderful CSS-only solution.

This required however Line anchors, a configuration option that isn't provided standalone with Jekyll. So I came up with a little plugin, after reading some nice info on how Redcarpet & Jekyll could be customized.

Placing this code saved as redcarpet_pygments.rb (i.e.) in the _plugin folder got the job done, handling markdown conversion with redcarpet and code highlighting with Pygments, customized with :lineanchors set to true.

Note: if you are using a Jekyll version prior to 1.0.0, you can use the older plugin.

# Jekyll v1 made internal markdown converters.
# Here we change the module, allowing our custom parser to be used.
module Jekyll
  module Converters
    class Markdown < Converter
      safe true

      pygments_prefix "\n"
      pygments_suffix "\n"

      def setup
        return if @setup
        @parser = case @config['markdown']
        when 'redcarpet'
        when 'kramdown'
        when 'rdiscount'
        when 'maruku'
        when 'redcarpet-pygments' # Hi! I'm a custom parser
          STDERR.puts "Invalid Markdown processor: #{@config['markdown']}"
          STDERR.puts " Valid options are [ maruku | rdiscount | kramdown | redcarpet-pygments ]"
          raise"Invalid Markdown process: #{@config['markdown']}")
        @setup = true

      def matches(ext)
        rgx = '(' + @config['markdown_ext'].gsub(',','|') +')'
        ext =~, Regexp::IGNORECASE)

      def output_ext(ext)

      def convert(content)

# Jekyll Parser as required in v1.
# Providing support for line numbering.
module Jekyll
  module Converters
    class Markdown
      class RedcarpetPygmentsParser
        def initialize(config)
          require 'redcarpet'
          require 'pygments'

          @config = config
          @redcarpet_extensions = {}
          @config['redcarpet']['extensions'].each { |e| @redcarpet_extensions[e.to_sym] = true }

          @renderer ||= do
            def block_code(code, lang)
              lang = lang && lang.split.first || "text"
              colorized = Pygments.highlight(code, :lexer => lang, :options => {:lineanchors => "line"}) # Add lineanchors for line numbers
              colorized.sub(/<pre>/, "<pre><code class=\"#{lang}\">").sub(/<\/pre>/, "</code></pre>")

            def codespan(code)
              "<code class=\"inline-code\">#{code}</code>" # Inline code custom class
        rescue LoadError
          STDERR.puts 'You are missing a library required for Markdown. Please run:'
          STDERR.puts '  $ [sudo] gem install redcarpet'
          raise"Missing dependency: redcarpet")

        def convert(content)
          @redcarpet_extensions[:fenced_code_blocks] = !@redcarpet_extensions[:no_fenced_code_blocks]
          @renderer.send :include, Redcarpet::Render::SmartyPants if @redcarpet_extensions[:smart]
          markdown =, @redcarpet_extensions)

After this you need only to change the _config.yml markdown option, setting it to redcarpet-pygments.

Now we can put the code provided by Alex in our CSS to get line numbers automagically appear.

@import "compass/css3/box-shadow";

pre {
    counter-reset: line-numbering;
    border: solid 1px #d9d9d9;
    border-radius: 0;
    background: #fff;
    padding: 0;
    line-height: 23px;
    margin-bottom: 30px;
    white-space: pre;
    overflow-x: auto;
    word-break: inherit;
    word-wrap: inherit;

pre a::before {
    content: counter(line-numbering);
    counter-increment: line-numbering;
    padding-right: 1em; /* space after numbers */
    width: 25px;
    text-align: right;
    opacity: 0.7;
    display: inline-block;
    color: #aaa;
    background: #eee;
    margin-right: 16px;
    padding: 2px 10px;
    font-size: 13px;
    border-right: 1px solid #dedede;
    -webkit-touch-callout: none;
    -webkit-user-select: none;
    -khtml-user-select: none;
    -moz-user-select: none;
    -ms-user-select: none;
    user-select: none;

pre a:first-of-type::before {
    padding-top: 10px;
    @include box-shadow(rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.9) 0px 1px 1px inset);

pre a:last-of-type::before {
    padding-bottom: 10px;

pre a:only-of-type::before {
    padding: 10px;

Here we go!

Now all your fenced code blocks will have awesome line numbers and colors. You can even customize style for inline code blocks using custom CSS for the .inline-code class.

code.inline-code {
    padding: 0.2em 0.4em;
    background-color: #fdfdfd;
    @include box-shadow(0 1px rgba(255,255,255,.75), inset 0 1px 3px rgba(0,0,0,.07));

    color: $light-gray;

    @include border-radius(4px);
    border: solid 1px #dedede;

    white-space: nowrap;


Written by , tweet me @leonardfactory!

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