February 4, 2014

going down the markdown hole

Remember when I said I was going to start using markdown, well that idea ended up changing everything about how I blog. I was looking to simplify, boy did I ever. I can write and publish an article with vim now. Here’s how I did it.


Blogger is great. .. Blogger is great if you use a web browser on a non-mobile device. Sure they have an iOS app, but it sucks. The web interface to create posts and manage the blog is useless on iOS. I tried writing posts in plain text before copy/pasting into blogger, but then I have to markup the links, and that’s annoying. What I’m trying to say is blogger sucks.

I want to be able to use vim to write a blog post. I want to be able to start writing somewhere and finish somewhere else. I want to be able to make the posts rich without using stupid wysiwyg toolbars. Enter Dropbox and markdown. Markdown allows me to markup everything easily, in plain text. Doesn’t matter what editor you’re using, it will always generate the same HTML. I save the posts to a folder in dropbox so they’re available everywhere.

Great, I can write posts, how do I publish them and where do they get published? I had 2 choices: http://scriptogr.am and http://calepin.co. They both essentially do the same thing, take markdown formatted text files in Dropbox and generate a static blog from them. Scriptogr.am has more features, but Calepin is simple and elegant. Calepin’s backend is also open source, in case I have to move. I like that I can’t change the theme, one less thing to worry about. Good, now we’re in Calepin, how did I move my stuff from blogger?


I had to convert the blog (again). I took the Atom feed provided by blogger and threw it in this script. I changed the date format a bit to include the time. It wasn’t perfect, I had to modify a couple posts for formatting. This generated about 500 files. Copy to Dropbox .. done.

Writing tools

Now I can use pretty much anything to write a post. As long as it ends up in Dropbox, it’ll get posted. Byword has good markdown support, a bit clunky though. Daedalus is a great way of dealing with text files. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s the first app that I’m actively submitting bugs for since I really like it. I can use vim to create posts if I feel like it. Dropbox obviously is where all the posts end up. Safe, backed up to the cloud.

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