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Preview Octopress Themes With Theme-Space

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The static site generator Octopress is surrounded by a large community, which has generated a large variety of themes for it. Many developers use actual blogs as theme previews, which - as Octopress bloggers are avid hackers - contain many customizations. Thus, users (newer ones in particular) are oft disappointed by the unexpectedly low amount of chrome they see on their website upon deployment of the default theme. Some developers maintain an empty demo site with the default theme, instead - a passable solution - which, however, takes up quite a bit of time (due to the need to update both Octopress and the theme - manually - on yet another site).

To make maintaining true-to-the-default demos easier for developers, we present Theme-Space - a GitHub-based repository for Octopress theme previews.

The Concept

Would it not be great if all Octopress themes had reliable ture-to-the-default previews for users to peruse at their convenience? Would it not be great if making previews for themes required less manual updating? Would the second not facilitate the first?

Theme-Space thinks it would! Over on GitHub, TheChymera and Yous have set up a small organization, called Theme-Space, which aims to address much of the above, by:

  • Providing a common (but entirely open) platform for Octopress theme previews.
  • Publishing scripts for easy theme preview site updating.
  • Publishing scripts for easy updating of the preview sites’ Octopress core.
  • Making previews live or pseudo-live via either GitHub push notifications, a sync+inotify approach, or Cron jobs.

The Workflow

A succinct how-to for publishing theme previews is available in the README file the Theme-Space Octopress fork’s themespace branch. This branch simply contains the standard octopress core, the theme-Space update scripts, and the aforementioned modified README, which helps developers set up their previews. The theme previews are hosted on the gh-pages branches of their respective Theme-Space theme forks. It is important to note here, that the workflow does not require Theme-Space theme forks to be up-to-date, but rather just pulls the newest versions directly form upstream. The previews are all available via


  • For there to be a web address to publish to, a fork of the respective theme must first be created on the Theme-Space organization account.
  • To push to the Theme-Space fork branches, developers will have to be members of the organization (or manually be given push privileges).
  • While theme updates are seamless, octopress core updates still have to be done manually.

The Organization

To ease the burden of the aforementioned caveats, Theme-Space tries to be as open (and open-handed with organization membership) as reasonably possible. In principle, any Octopress theme developer is welcome to join, and will be given all required permissions on a moment’s notice.

To make it even easier for theme developers to benefit from the its scripts and concept, Theme-Space plans to become more distributed by designing its scripts to easily and safely be used by developers on their own repositories.