Starting a New Site

To get started we will need to create a project folder for Middleman to work out of. You can do this using an existing folder or have Middleman create one for you using the middleman init command.

$ middleman init

builds a Middleman skeleton project in your current folder.

$ middleman init my_new_project

creates a subfolder mynewproject with the Middleman skeleton project.

The Skeleton

Every new project creates a basic web development skeleton for you. This automates the construction of a standard hierarchy of folders and files that you can use in all of your projects.

A brand-new project will contain a source folder and a config.rb file. The source folder is where you will build your website. The skeleton project contains folders for javascript, CSS and images, but you can change these to match your own personal preferences.

The config.rb file contains settings for Middleman and commented documentation on how to enable complex features such as compile-time compression and "blog mode".


Middleman will respect a Bundler Gemfile for specifying and controlling your gem dependencies. When creating a new project, Middleman will generate a Gemfile for you which specifies the same version of Middleman you are using. This will lock Middleman to this specific release series (the 3.0.x series, for example). You can also use your Gemfile to use cutting-edge versions of Middleman from GitHub using the :git option. All plugins and extra libraries you use in your project should be listed in your Gemfile, and Middleman will automatically require all of them when it starts.

A file describes how the site should be loaded by a Rack-enabled webserver. This file is provided as a convenience for users wishing to host their Middleman site in development mode on a Rack-based host such as Heroku. Remember that Middleman is built to generate static sites, though.

To include a boilerplate file in your project, add the --rack flag to the init command:

$ middleman init my_new_project --rack

If you've already initialized a project and just want the for linking with pow or other development server its contents are simply:

require 'middleman/rack'
run Middleman.server