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  • Octoburn is a blogging engine for Jekyll pages based on Octopress.


    leveraging Compass

    Susy for responsive layout.

    While doing a Susy design from scratch can present something of an initial learning curve, customizing an existing design is a joy. Want 4 asides instead of 3 in your default layout? Allocate columns to each aside in sass/asides/_default_layout.scss and regenerate. You’re done.

    Vertical rhythm for readability

    Vertical rhythm refers to the way text flows down a page. The core of Compass’s Vertical Rhythm library is the ability to adjust both font-size and line-height with a single call. The establish-baseline mixin is integrated with other Compass libraries such as Susy.

    and many more

    Octoburn uses a host of smaller Compass libraries as well. Two examples are Horizontal List and float.

    Why use Compass? The single largest benefit is that the libraries encapsulate cross-browser issues, and continue to do so as browsers evolve. Life is too short to reinvent the wheel, or, in this case get run over by it!

    Comprehensive libraries such as Susy and Vertical Rhythm make it possible to achieve in days what used to take a week. They also make implementing changes fun as opposed to mildly terrifying.


    Octoburn’s markup uses relevant microdata schemas from schema.org. A set of microdata liquid filters is included as a plugin for easy template customization.

    Microdata is critical to having your information correctly indexed by the major search engines. A new set of extremely promising schemas for technical materials is in review which I plan to incorporate.

    Encoding markup with microdata has a secondary benefit. Semantic HTML5 is challenging. Many elements can legitimately be marked up in multiple ways depending on context. I often find that ambiguous elements resolve themselves as I work through a schema.

    convention over configuration

    where’s waldo?

    I spend a lot of my time in Rails; one of the strengths of the Rails architecture is how easy it is to find things. Sass’s @import facility made it possible for me to create a similar architecture in Octoburn.

    Consider, for example, the follow menu at the top of each page:

    • the template is _includes/menus/follow_menu.html
    • the sass is menus/_follow_menu.scss

    (There’s more to the Sass import design, but a proper treatment would be a full post.)

    tags are not categories

    Octoburn offers built-in support for tags: automatically generated tag pages, liquid filters for a single tag link and a full set of tag links and automatically generated tag feeds. I am currently reviewing several of the existing Jekyll tag cloud plugins to see if one of them will do.

    what’s next?

    While I have lots of plans for Octoburn, my next step is to turn it into a gem. Hi, my name is Hilary, and I addicted to agile software development. I need my BDD toolset!

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