The Twenty-Second Fineprint


A few weeks before my 19th birthday, I was taking a siesta in my room when I suddenly sat up startled from my bed. You know those weird moments when you’re in the center of being asleep and awake at the same time and random crazy thoughts pop into your head? Well, I had one of those weird moments. For a second, I suddenly remembered that my birthday was coming up, but in my mind, I was turning 20 instead of 19. My brain suddenly tried remembering what had happened in my 19th year, but because it hadn’t happened yet, I came to the conclusion that my 19th year slipped away without me knowing it.

I still smile when I remember that incident. I have no real sense of time or dates, and I usually remember my birthday a week before, so it’s quite funny really. This year however, I remembered my birthday soon enough to take a little time-off my work and do something for myself.

So this is the new Keetology, codename Fineprint, my early birthday present for myself.

Everything is Fine

I know how long I’ve been neglecting my blog: three months to be exact. And so when I thought of what I could give myself as an early birthday present (early because my birthday’s on the third), I knew I had to redesign my site. It’s been around 2 months since I’ve finally gotten myself a proper domain and web host (courtesy of my favorite basher, Jabis Sevon), and aside from using it for storing a few miscellaneous stuff, I really haven’t gotten into fixing it for actual use.

So yesterday, I took some time off my work and opened Photoshop. I started mocking up the design and after a few tries, I built the templates. I was planning to create templates for Tumblr, but I decided that it’s time for me to get a real site.

And so, Fineprint was born.

Fineprint as Design

First, Fineprint is the design I came up with for this new version of the site. Unlike Achromanticism, the design prior to this one, I turned away from rich, dark hues for Fineprint. I’ve used dark colors for my designs for a long time, and it’s time for me to break away from them and settle for cleaner, lighter tones.

The inspiration for this new design came when I was sifting through my file cabinet for some legal papers. I came across an old contract for a project, designed by one of my friends, Brian, and I just marveled at how clean it looked. So when I was thinking of what theme I’ll be using for this new iteration of Keetology, I quickly remembered Brian’s contract and decided that it would be awesome to translate the idea into a site.

I did keep several elements from Achromanticism: great typography, use of whitespace and an overall minimalism. Like in the previous design, I used Simo Kinnunen’s fantastic Cufon to render the headers, which are set in Caecilia LT Standard.

Fineprint as Engine

But the real core of this whole revamp wasn’t the design: it’s the new engine that powers this website. Also named Fineprint, the new engine is built using PHP and CouchDB.

If you were to tell me a few months ago that I would be writing a blog engine using PHP, I would have probably stared at you like you were crazy. It’s been quite a while since I’ve used PHP and most of my work nowadays employ Lua for building fast, backend servers—so me writing a blog engine in PHP was nothing short of ridiculous.

One thing that kept me from using PHP recently was the size and complexity of the available frameworks. It seemed that for writing small sites (which is what I usually do), most of the available PHP frameworks are overkill. But then I discovered Nice Dog, an awesome, lightweight framework written by Tiago Bastos. The simplicity of the whole thing really impressed me when I used it to write the new documentation engine for Titanium and I knew that I would be a very big fan. Thus, I used a slightly modified version of Nice Dog for Fineprint, restructured to fit the implementation.

Now the use of CouchDB is another new thing for me. I heard about CouchDB before, but I was always shooed away when I see “Erlang” on the frontpage of the CouchDB site. I’m not being a “linguiscist” here, but I thought that I had to learn Erlang to use CouchDB, which is of course, not true. Thankfully, I got so bored one night that I decided to peruse the CouchDB site and finally see the awesomeness it possessed.

There isn’t too much to say about Fineprint right now, because it’s such a young project (a few hours from writing this, to be exact). I am planning to release the framework soon, I just need to clean up the code and work out the kinks. (Let me tell you a secret: there’s no usable admin area yet—I’m stuck using magic to post.)

Birthday Shmerday

So that’s mostly it really. I’m turning 22 this Wednesday, I redesigned my site, and wrote a new blogging engine.

Advanced happy birthday to me. :)