Compatible discretizations transform partial differential equations to discrete algebraic problems that mimic fundamental properties of the continuum equations. We provide a common framework for mimetic discretizations using algebraic topology to guide our analysis. The framework and all attendant discrete structures are put together by using two basic mappings between differential forms and cochains. The key concept of the framework is a natural inner product on cochains which induces a combinatorial Hodge theory on the cochain complex. The framework supports mutually consistent operations of differentiation and integration, has a combinatorial Stokes theorem, and preserves the invariants of the De Rham cohomology groups. This allows, among other things, for an elementary calculation of the kernel of the discrete Laplacian. Our framework provides an abstraction that includes examples of compatible finite element, finite volume, and finite difference methods. We describe how these methods result from a choice of the reconstruction operator and explain when they are equivalent. We demonstrate how to apply the framework for compatible discretization for two scalar versions of the Hodge Laplacian.