Blog Post Workflow

Recently I've been making changes to the way I post here. As I said a short while ago I want to get a little more out of my hardware and efficiency is a part of that. The very first thing I want to make clear is that there is simply no truly ideal Squarespace 6 workflow for me at present. Squarespace 6 lacks an API, an externally accessible way for another application to access and trigger it's functionality, so ultimately all posts have to be submitted via the webapp backend. The Squarespace 6 interface is pretty good however, so this is not such a big deal. It has the benefit that Markdown 'blocks' can be combined with other content blocks which can be great for some last minute editing and getting access to some of the more advanced features that Markdown alone does not support.

I've made a number of changes to the blog and the way I post to it in the last month or so. Most extraneous blog features have been disabled or I have ceased to make use of them. There are no comments, no 'likes', no tags or categories. There is just the title with the date and the Author and then there's the post content. Simple - very much in line with the minimalist philosophy I've been preaching (read: babbling like a loon) about recently. I've also changed my post editor, from a combination or the Squarespace backend and TextEdit to Byword; it may be deeply pitiable but I find writing in Byword to be acutely enjoyable - so much so that it is likely entirely responsible for my recent increase in posting frequency. I can also tap out a couple of hundred words on my iPad or iPhone if I'm away from home or wherever.

Byword has had an unexpected effect on planning new posts too. Before I kept a list of potential post subjects in Reminders, but this wasn't ideal. Reminders is great for lists where individual items can be immediately ticked off upon completion, but a blog post doesn't go from idea to posted quite so promptly. There are intermediate stages, and sometimes the theme is complex or the post requires references and notes. There are apps that would perform the functions of Reminders and allow for the capture of additional materials and process states, OmniFocus springs to mind, but these sit at the other extreme of the spectrum; they are simply far more powerful than the job requires.

My blogging life is basically goalless. I like the zen nature of that, and paradoxically, it improves results.
— Seth Godin

As Byword syncs by iCloud and stores everything as a simple plain text file, I can create a new document and simply dump everything as a more or less disorganised stream of consciousness into the file. This is easily done by iPhone anywhere at any time, or on my iPad if I'm browsing and find something interesting. I can then revisit this post 'seed' when I get a bit of time, organise the notes with appropriate Markdown and begin writing. It's all very visible and easily organised into folders.

Transferring the text from Byword to Squarespace itself is the clumsy step. This is really a matter of cut and paste; inelegant and somewhat old school but does provide a kind of final draft for me to review. Byword provides excellent publishing options for other platforms, I should note, but the lack of API I mentioned above prevents a direct publishing option in this case. This offers some small advantage to make up for the inconvenience, as anything I wish to include that isn't straight forward text (such as images or quotes) that tend to use styles and functionality not available through standard Markdown can be managed appropriately. Once the post is in, I can preview it, correct it and schedule or publish it. The original Markdown file is archived and the job is done.