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A new website for the Copim community

Introducing the Copim community's new website and reflecting on the idea and technology behind it.

Published onFeb 20, 2024
A new website for the Copim community

We’re happy to launch our new website for the Copim community. Since the website was last redesigned at the start of 2022, Copim has continued to evolve and we felt that it was time for a completely renovated website which would reflect the new position of Copim and its associated projects.

Since the Open Book Futures project launched in May 2023, we’ve undertaken something of a brand redesign to reflect COPIM (the project) evolving into Copim (the community behind the COPIM and Open Book Futures projects). You can read Lucy Barnes’ blog post on this for more details but in short the idea of Copim expanded as our projects spun off charitable organisations, funding models, toolkits, resources and reports, and software platforms. We wanted our new website to reflect the expansiveness of the Copim community and how we’ve developed since the COPIM project into a network with a strong identity that, we hope, will persist longer than the lifetime of a particular project and has created (and will create) many different things together.

In discussions with the Open Book Futures project management group, we kept returning to the word ‘index’. We recognised that Copim has become an expansive community whose reach is perhaps unclear to people unfamiliar with our work, and we wanted to offer an index to the many and various things that Copim is and has achieved. In tandem, we opted to refresh and expand our PubPub site by moving more detailed information on who we are, our values and our governance there. Via the PubPub site, members of our community can easily create, edit, and share dynamic updates on their day-to-day and ongoing work. We conceptualised the new Copim site as a semi-static index presenting what the Copim community has done in different categories and making it easy for users to explore.

screenshot of the homepage for the new

The new website offers a stripped-back tile design evoking the app screen of a smartphone. The tiles on the homepage provide external links out to the projects, initiatives, resources, documentation, and software that Copim has produced while a sidebar makes it possible to filter these by category (including some overlapping categories) while also providing some summary information about each element. We want the user to be able to find basic information about the aspect of Copim that they’re interested in and then be given a clear direction of travel to get further detail.

As the Copim community has grown in scope, so too has our international reach. Where our last website redesign in 2022 focused on accessibility through WCAG and W3C compliance, this time we wanted to improve our accessibility by offering languages other than English. The new website provides a dropdown menu for translating the site content into a range of languages. We acknowledge some limitations of this feature: it currently doesn’t translate all page content and the machine-translations may be somewhat inaccurate, and we’ll look to improve this in the future.

Like our previous website, our new website is generated using the Hugo static site generator. All site content is written in Markdown and compiled into HTML and CSS by running a Docker Compose container that runs Hugo. The website content and Docker Compose and NGINX configurations are openly available under the MIT License on GitHub:

Our new Hugo theme is a bespoke theme bringing together elements of Victoria Drake’s Introduction theme and Gus Esquivel’s Slate theme. Slate provided the single-page tile structure and dynamic filtering that we wanted while Introduction provided the more minimalist aesthetic, the ability to add details for each category, and the support for multiple languages. We’re grateful to both developers for licensing their themes under open source licenses (Apache-2.0 and MIT respectively) and allowing others to fork their work to create derivatives.

While it would have been easy to add a commercial translation service like Google Translate to our website, we use an open source translation system in line with our commitment to openness. LibreTranslate is a free and open source machine translation API that can be self-hosted or run offline and runs easily through Docker. Building on this, I wrote a Docker environment and a set of scripts to run automated machine translations of a batch of Markdown files by feeding the English language content to a local LibreTranslate API and then outputting new files translated into a language specified in the script. By inputting the website’s ./content/en folder into the script, we were able to quickly produce automated translations of all the website’s Markdown content.

We aim for this new website to showcase the evolution of the Copim community as we continue the Open Book Futures project and we’re pleased as always to openly document the ideas and technology behind what we do.

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