New workflows

in the website


The Gust editor for WordPress

I have been swamped this week past. There are a dozen posts in my drafts folder-backfill posts marked for update, current events and photographs. I met a wonderful and intelligent woman for lunch and hosted a second for dinner, both on Tuesday. On Wednesday I had my mum, my sister, and my sister’s children around for a soul food dinner. And if I weren’t already drained from all this, insomnia has hit me in a hard way. Two hours here sleep, three hours there.

Chris paid me Sunday for services rendered in December, so now I can get Christmas gifts out the door for Garrett and Caira. I have to document, transcribe, and otherwise record every single word I send. This is (totally worthwhile) tedious.

And that’s where I am with content updates. I’ve happily used Self-hatred with WordPress eight years. The platform is mature, replete with options, trivial to set up, user friendly, and is the aleph of an ecosystem of themes, plugins, and modifications. It’s the bees knees. There have been a few occasions, sure, where I forked the blog; experiments with Tumblr, Posterous, Blogger, and Zenphoto. I’m always on the prowl for new ways to write.

Is this better than WordPress? Can I migrate to it? Is it compatible with my workflow?

Inevitably I always return to WordPress. It’s comfortable, roomy, and does whatever I ask of it. Tumblr’s community is putrescent, Sure, there’re limits, but hey, it works. My biggest gripe with WordPress it sucks to write. There are too many wingdings and widgets to catch my attention. The WYSIWYG editor is the unholy offspring of Microsoft Word and George Bush.

Third-party solutions lack. They cover a pretty good range of use cases, but it never seems like they cover mine. I need the widgets to be styled just so. It has to present the information in this manner alone.

I refuse to use outside editors. There’s nothing at all to stop me if I want to use to draft my post in a full screen vim session except that the extra step to save, store, and then paste a post before I publish rubs me the wrong way.

A new blogging platform named Ghost began to make waves a few months ago. Ghost began life as a new admin panel for WordPress built using JavaScript before it was forked off into a standalone project. There’s lots to like:

  • Markdown. The time it takes to format a markdown post is something like a quarter of what HTML does, without the uncontrolled mess of a WYSIWYG post.
  • The entire point of Ghost is to provide the best possible platform on which to write. The editor is beautiful, the administrative side is beautiful, and the presentation of content is beautiful.

Ghost is to be admired, and I admire it. It’s spring, and with spring comes wanderlust so why not try it? I really want to move Self-hatred to Ghost, but several hurdles have to be overcome for any move to take place:

  1. I have to secure a new web host for Self-hatred. The site is currently hosted with Blacknight, an Irish web host. Ghost requires shell access in order for you to install it on a Linux server, and my Blacknight package does not offer, so I need a VPS. I pay for Blacknight service monthly, I’m not tied to a contract, and it’s spring. Everyone who offers hosting offers VPS services. I could spin up an Amazon EC2 instance, move to a VPS with Blacknight, or find another host entirely.
  2. I have to complete my backfill project for old Tumblr and Flickr-based posts (<20 remain), and find a replacement for the Beauty Orange WordPress Code Prettifier.
  3. Update the script I use to upload images. Honestly? This one is maybe another four-line function in a shell script.
  4. Set up the VPS and begin the move from old host to new host.
  5. Set up and configure Ghost. Begin to import WordPress posts. Watch this like a hawk to make sure nothing (permalinks) breaks

I have been on and on about this non-stop on Twitter and Facebook for the past couple of days. The idea of a move has me excited-old content, new paradigm, what’s not to like?

In the meanwhile, I have been experimenting with Gust, a WordPress plugin that brings the child’s experience back to the parent. Gust emulates Ghost’s editor, a Ghost-style post browser, live previews, and markdown formatting. I enjoy Gust so far, and the HTML code it produces is clean, but:

  1. There is no spellcheck function.
  2. The logic for tag autocompletion is more retarded than a roomful of 4chan kids.
  3. When a character is typed, the post preview in the righthand pane is refreshed. My habit is to lead a post with a picture, and so the picture is refreshed every, single, time, I ,p,r,e,s,s, ,a,n,y ,k,e,y. It’s a strobe light that bores into my soul.
  4. The media previews push non-media content down and out of sight unless I scroll. And then the post snaps back to the top when it is refreshed. I will poke at the code later, and add a toggle for this behaviour, such as I replace the media with a [media] tag.
  5. The default font editor font size is fucking stupid. I had to halve both the editor and preview pane font sizes to make it usable. Fuck.
  6. I still have to finalize blog posts in the WordPress. Spellcheck, tag, add code formatting (if needed).


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