Des Paroz on the go returns to WordPress

Six months ago I moved DesParoz.com over to SquareSpace, specifically SquareSpace 6. Today I am moving it back to a self-hosted WordPress installation.

I really like SquareSpace, and continue to run 3 important sites [1] on SquareSpace, and continually heartily recommend SquareSpace as a great option for businesses and organisations who need a fully featured website. But for a site that is primarily a blog, such as DesParoz.com, I was frustrated with the process for publishing an article.

With WordPress, I can write and publish directly from Byword – both Byword for iOS and Byword for Mac. On SquareSpace, I would have to write in the editor, then copy the HTML, then paste it into the SquareSpace website (or app). It was simply too many steps for my liking.

Frictionless workflows are important, so after considering this change for a while I made the decision to switch back. Frankly my life is likely to be even more on the go in the forseeable future. The ability to write and post on the go is critical. So while I lose some of the powerful features of SquareSpace, I gain the flexibility of WordPress and Byword.

My workflows are based on the front-end apps I choose to use on a daily basis. Backend systems, whilst important, should be chosen based on how well they support workflows and apps.

Publishing a Post on Scriptogr.am

Earlier I discussed my experiences in setting up a Scriptogr.am blog site, so this post is going to be about posting. In fact, its the posting process that drew me to Scriptogr.am in the first place, as it allows you to write in Markdown, my preference for doing websites. I dislike writing in HTML, and am not a fan of most WYSIWYG editors, as they tend to distract you from the core task of writing.
With the exception of short quick posts on my Des Paroz On The Go WordPress blog (for which I might use the WYSIWIG editor), most of my posts are written in Byword, directly in Markdown. Sometimes I write the text first, and add the Markdown tags later, though often I just do them as I go. Squarespace handles Markdown natively (along with HTML and WYSIWIG).

Byword and Marked

As you might be able to see from the screen shot, the Markdown tags get out of the way in Byword, allowing you to focus on the writing. You’ll also note that I have a second app open – Brett Terpstra’s excellent Marked app that allows me to get real time previews of how my posts will look, without any of the Markdown. It’s really a lovely way of writing. Of course, this only applies on the Mac OSX version of Byword – its not available (or needed really) when I run Byword on an iOS device.

The beauty of this process is that I can basicaly write once then publish to both my WordPress blog and my Scriptogr.am one. For the WordPress blog, I will start by using the File > Export > HTML to Clipboard option in Byword, then paste that content into either MarsEdit or directly into the WordPress console. I then tidy up any images, add tags and categories, and publish. For my Squarespace sites, I just cut and paste the Markdown code directly into the editor.

For Scriptogr.am posts, I stay in Byword, and add some header text to the file, so that Scriptogr.am knows a post name, publish date and time, tags, etc. I have a standard TextExpander snippet setup to generate the following:

Date: 2013-01-25 06:07 
Title:
Tags:

As you can see the date is autogenerated in the correct format by TextExpander.

Once all this is done, I move the file (File > Move To…) to the designated sync folder for Scriptogr.am. One more step is to go over to the Scriptogr.am Dashboard, and Synchronize my site. The file should now be published.

So publishing in Scriptogr.am is very easy, and really leverages the power of Markdown.

There are only a couple of downsides that I can see.

  1. Firstly, there are no categories, as far as I can see in Scriptogr.am. Perhaps they have a worldview of sticking to tags, and I guess that I am ok with that.
  2. The extra step of having to over to the Scriptogr.am dashboard and synchronise means that you lose some of the standalone nature of things. Maybe some sort of push capability with a widget or menu bar item.

There are some other limitations I am finding with the overall Scriptogr.am platform, but as they are not directly about posting, I’ll leave those to another post.

I should quickly mention that there are a couple of other options for writing blog posts. One is to use a simple editor built into the Scriptogr.am site. Seems to work fine, but you still have to synchronise

All in all, I find the process of creating blog posts on Scriptogr.am to be straightforward, functional and seamless. For a writer interested in writing and not coding a website, it offers a low-cost (free at this time) platform that leverages the power of Markdown and Dropbox. Using it doesn’t require a lot of technical know how (Markdown is easy to pick up), and the results are great.