Presenting apostilb

Yesterday, neuroamanda and I launched a new project as an exercise in communicating science: apostilb! More details explaining the project and our aims can be found on our about page. I wanted to touch upon a few things about the underlying framework for publishing content to apostilb.

If you’ve read my PhD Starter Kit, you may already be familiar with some of the content-publishing paradigms I mention here. The primary element of our workflow is GitHub; here’s the apostilb website’s GitHub repo. We have each forked the repo into our own GitHub accounts and make all changes to the website locally, including adding new content. Each week, one of us is the writer and the other the editor. When the writer has added a new article (there’s only one so far), a pull request is made and the editor is notified. The editor can then comment on the content within the pull request itself, and any changes the author wishes to implement are added as new git commits to the same pull request. After at least two rounds of back-and-forth, the piece is ready for publication and the pull request is merged. GitHub Flow is great not just for code but also for written content!

The really nice aspect of this workflow is that not only do we host the website on GitHub Pages but we are fully open and transparent about the publishing process: all the edits from the first draft itself are publicly visible. While that may not seem very useful, it is something to go back to and allows others to understand our editing process and the comments we made to each other.

The web page is built using Jekyll and the content is written using Markdown (essentially plaintext); see the raw Markdown for the first post. This simplifies the writing process itself since we can each write articles offline without relying on a web interface, using a slimmed-down syntax on a distraction-free editor.

I’m really excited about apostilb, and not only because of the rather geeky publishing methods we’re using. It’ll be good to get back into the habit of regular writing. Which reminds me, I’ve got to work on my post for next week!

If you’d like to receive the latest stories we publish, follow @apostilb or subscribe to the feed.

I’d also like to give special thanks to my brother, Aditya, for designing the apostilb logo.