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Evolution of the Story Archive UI

The UI of Story Archive has gone through numerous iterations, from using frameworks like Bootstrap and Foundation to write my own CSS. In the end, none of them really work for what I wanted and how I wanted it to work, to me, this meant one thing.

Write my own.

This is the process of multiple rewrites that the Story Archive UI has undergone from the beginning to now.

I started off looking at websites that do what I want to do, host stories. FanFiction.net and AO3(Archive of Our Own) is the best place to start, I could not use Tumblr as allows for custom markup.

With the basic layout in mind I started writing, the HTML at least. I wanted to start easy and began off with Bootstrap. To add a bit of complexity of just using Bootstrap I decided to start with a user profile.

The first problem I ran into was that I needed two navbars the second (the bottom one) worked just fine, but the first (the top one) should not be responsive, so I had to disable that.

.star-sitebar {
  border-bottom-width: 0;
  margin-bottom: 0;
.star-sitebar .navbar-header {
  float: left;
.star-sitebar .navbar-nav {
  float: right;
.star-sitebar .nav > li,
.star-sitebar .nav > li > a {
  display: inline-block;

That .star-sitebar stopped it but would change size for reasons beyond me. I got as far as below before I stop with the cause being that Bootstrap was too restrictive fo what I need to do.

See the Pen STAR User Profile by Txuritan (@txuritan) on CodePen.

Custom code here I come. I quietly wiped up as a fake home page using code from a panel that I made weeks ago. Just as fast as I wrote it I realized that that design would get cluttered and hard to read.

See the Pen Story Archive v1 by Txuritan (@txuritan) on CodePen.

The next design was made when I needed a login screen to test Auth0 with Spring.io. I worked quite nicely but any element became large and space eating. This made it hard to view on mobile and smaller screens like my own.

See the Pen BpJEPp by Txuritan (@txuritan) on CodePen.

The next I won’t even go into details, I don’t even know what I was thinking, but I combined everything wrong with the others into it.


See the Pen STAR Framework by Txuritan (@txuritan) on CodePen.

As I worked on different UIs I stumbled upon the web Google App Store (I used iPhone at the time). Liked the colors and made a navbar layout but never went any farther than that.

See the Pen jyqeJP by Txuritan (@txuritan) on CodePen.

We now arrive at the current version of the UI or at least a version of it. It was designed like a mixture of iOS and Material Design using flat shapes and bright colors all while keeping unity with each other, with some variety thrown in.

See the Pen Story Archive v2 by Txuritan (@txuritan) on CodePen.

At this point, I was satisfied with what I created and was stumped as to where to go next. I obviously needed more elements and to fix some minor issues. So I decided to write a framework from the ground up using a modified version of BEM with LESS.

I decided to use flexbox as it has pretty good support on web browsers. The flex system for Story Archive uses three selectors, .flex-item__left, .flex-item__center, and .flex-item__right. Those three are entire positioning system, just nested over and over.

The current version is on a C9 workspace being slowly built and pushed to the repo for use on Story Archive and anywhere else it is needed.

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