bits and pieces (and )

Birds of Paradise

As I’m sure (none of) you know, I’m constantly on the lookout for nice, clean themes for my text editors. There are a few I’ve used in the past that are very nice - Solarized to name one - but I always find they have the same issue: they look ugly when editing html and (s)css.

Today, however, I found one that is excellent for just that. It’s called Birds of Paradise:

Birds of Paradise theme sample
Birds of Paradise and Sass.
Another Birds of Paradise sample
Very meta.

Its design isn’t exclusive to html or css (it supports everything from Ruby to ActionScript), and comes from a long line of other themes, but it is exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.

You can download it here. The font used in the above screenshots is Ubuntu Mono.


Although this blog section would suggest otherwise I am still alive and kicking - I just appear to have forgotten how to type.

I’m currently working on a few different projects (one of which has been ongoing for many months now) hence the lack of updates, but I’ve set aside some time to get things back on track. So what have I been doing? Gaining knowledge and designing for the web, mainly.

Preview image for an upcoming website
Some of what I've been doing.

I’ve stumbled across a number of different resources that have helped significantly over the past year or so, and it would only be right to share. So:

Hammer for Mac is fantastic. I urge you to read the documentation, but in summary - it’s the UI Jekyll never had. HTML includes, smart paths, Sass compilation and the ability to share your work in progress with clients (plus much more). There’s a 14 day trial available or you can pay £16.99 for the full version.

Bourbon and Bourbon Neat. Bourbon is an extremely useful mixin library for Sass. Special mention to the triangle mixin, the results of which you can see in the above image. As for Bourbon Neat:

Neat is an open source semantic grid framework built on top of Sass and Bourbon.

I’ve tried any number of frameworks previously but Neat is the one I’ve enjoyed the most. It works via mixins in your Sass rather than extra presentational classes or divs in your markup - if you’ve used Twitter Bootstrap or similar it’ll take a little getting used to, but the results are fantastic. Its grid overlay is the icing on the cake.

Perch. The best CMS I’ve ever used - and I only started using it over the past week. Rather than throwing everything and the kitchen sink at your users, Perch lets you define small regions (or large regions; it’s all up to you) as editable areas in which content types of your specification can be placed. A demo is available and you’re encouraged to try it again after it expires (how thoughtful) - but I suggest you grab a copy of the full version. It’s great.

And finally… Font Awesome. I don’t think I need to go into detail. If you’ve ever used Bootstrap I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but Font Awesome is… well, you fill in the rest.

More updates soon!

Itsy Theme

Although I like the default Itsy theme I don’t find it clean enough for my desktop - so I’ve decided to create my own:

Itsy Theme screenshot

Themes are made using only css (excluding icons, although I’d be interested in trying Font Awesome with it) so you can get something usable extremely quickly.

Mowglii has a good guide on creating your own, as well as a sample theme to get you started. If you’re no good at creating icons I highly recommend looking at Yusuke Kamiyamane’s brilliant sets.

I’ll post my theme file here once completed.


After months of deliberation and procrastination I’ve finally added some content onto this site! I’ll be using it as a place to show the design and photography projects I’ve been working on, as well as blog posts when I get around to them.

If you’re reading this around the time of publishing I’m sure you’ll have noticed that it looks a little sparse - but I’m working on it. I’m in the process of sorting images to add to the portfolio, and I have a few posts lined up - in my brain - for the blog, so hopefully it shouldn’t be too long before there are more things to see.

As for the site itself, I’m still tinkering with the layout and design so don’t be surprised if things end up looking very different. I need to have a contact section, for one, but in the meantime if you have any questions or queries, feel free get it touch with me at, or @alanlongstaff on Twitter.