Overcoming Blogging Friction
I’d like to post more, but I’m afraid that my current web host gets in the way of that.
This site is hosted on Square Space, and has been since I moved my web presence from Rose-Hulman in a hasty transfer back in 2011. I’ve been pleased to have Square Space manage all the details of keeping the site up, staying on top of security updates, and generally handling all the sys admin work for me.
The trouble is friction. The amount of ceremony to post an article or share a file is just too high.
I write in markdown using BBEdit on my Mac. To post an article to Square Space, I have to upload any images through a point-and-click file upload interface. Then I get the links for the images through some more clicking and copying. I update the post on my Mac with the image links. Then I click some more on the web site to create a new article. Finally, I copy the markdown source of the article into a text form on Square Space. Any updates to the article require a similar series of hoop jumping.
So, inspired by my colleague’s posts last fall, I’m starting to re-think my approach to this site. Unlike Brent, I need everything from hosting on up.
Whatever system I choose, it needs to meet a few requirements:
- Write posts in a markdown variant with code syntax highlighting. Something like github flavored markdown is appealing.
- One-button posting of articles and files. I’d love for this step to be just pushing to a “source code” repo somewhere, but would consider other options.
- RSS Feed Generation. The system needs to produce a full-text RSS feed.
- Minimum server fuss. I think I’d like to be able to run code on the server, but I’d also like to have someone make sure all the latest security patches are installed for me.
- Static project pages. Removing the friction from blogging is my main motivation, but the bulk of the traffic here is people coming to download my various AppleScript’s for OmniFocus. Maintaining that and other project pages has to be easy.
- Custom Domain. This probably goes without saying, but the hosting provider has to let me use my curtclifton.net domain.
There are a few other features that I think would be cool:
- Microblogging. Manton Reece and Daniel Jalkut, through their Core Intuition podcast, have me thinking about owning my social media posts. It would be awesome to have a separate feed on my site for short posts that would automatically mirror to Twitter. This may be a heavier lift, since I’d also like to capture my replies to others’ posts too. I suppose something that scrapes my Twitter feed is a more likely approach.
- Editing from iOS. For serious writing, I really need a keyboard that lets me touch type, but I think it would be handy to at least fix typos and do other minor tweaks from my iPhone or iPad.
Roll My Own?
I’m not averse to rolling my own system, though I’m more comfortable writing code than configuring servers. Still, something like Marco Arment’s Second Crack or Brent’s system appeal to my engineering sensibilities—clean, simple, and to the point.
Does wordpress.com meet my requirements? I’ve poked around their site, but they sure don’t want to tell me what’s possible. They just want to shout about how easy their system is to use. I’m afraid their “easy” is the kind of friction I’m trying to escape.
So, what’s the answer? Who should I be considering for hosting? What tools should I use for publishing? Suggestions? Let me know!