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Daryl Shaw

Trying to Get Into This Writing Thing

On the commute home the other day my phone had no battery which meant without Wi-Fi I couldn’t spend my commute reading emails and doing work like usual so it forced my hand to write some words.

I started writing this in Atom in markdown because of the lack of internet access mentioned above. There are many benefits of writing in Markdown (the first point in that post particularly resonates with me after having to migrate content from one CMS to another recently). I’ve moved this from Atom over to Dropbox Paper to finish and although Dropbox Paper doesn’t have full markdown support, it does use markdown inspired macros and when this post is published it will be in markdown because I use Jekyll for my website so the benefits outlined in the post linked above still apply. Because Dropbox Paper uses markdown inspired macros, it means copying previously written markdown into Dropbox Paper is relatively pain-free and the only thing I’ve found it misses is paragraph spacing. Once I’ve finished writing, I can then download as markdown and either copy the markdown directly into Siteleaf, which is the CMS I use, or drop the markdown file into the _posts folder and add the YAML front matter and push up to the repo.

I’ve recently started using Dropbox Paper instead of Google Docs. There were a number of reasons I decided to switch to Dropbox Paper:

  1. One of them being I like how stripped back it is which lets me just focus on the words.
  2. You can download Dropbox Paper docs in markdown format.
  3. I was having issues with switching between Google accounts when working with Google Docs, even though my accounts have different endings.
  4. On switching accounts, I also like the clear separation between work and personal with the new Dropbox design.
  5. The formatting options.

Although I would like to write exclusively in markdown in Atom and not use Dropbox Paper, the formatting options and markdown inspired macros do add to the writing experience. I’ve also found that when I’m writing I like to leave comments for myself, which can make things messy and break the flow of writing when trying to do this in Markdown in a text editor. Even though it has a good interface, I don’t like to write directly in Siteleaf because of the GitHub sync. I have a habit of starting things that I never finish (or take a long time to finish) so all the drafts would be sat in the GitHub repo until I got round to finishing them.

In a previous life, this website has been hosted on WordPress and I was thinking recently whether it might make sense to move it back over to WordPress if I was going to try to get into writing. There’s no doubt that WordPress is good for blogs and publishing, however, I do like static websites and JAMstack and using Jekyll for this website gives me the opportunity to learn something new - plus free hosting on GitHub. The thing that attracted me to Siteleaf v1 in the first place was that I didn’t really need WordPress - at the time I wasn’t blogging and my website was only really a holding page. Siteleaf v2 brought compatibility with Jekyll and GitHub sync, which is really good. There is a plugin I checked out recently trying to bring version control to WordPress called VersionPress but it isn’t production ready yet. There also seems to have been a bit of a push on the .blog TLDs recently. And I’ve got to admit I was tempted to pick one up and set it up on a WordPress install in the hope that it would kickstart me into blogging more. I quickly came to my senses though and realised another domain name with a fancy new TLD isn’t going to change anything. The other reason I thought about moving back over to WordPress is that I recently switched over to use Local by Flywheel from VVV for the WordPress sites I manage and liked the whole set up. I’m sticking with Jekyll and Siteleaf for now though.

If you haven’t checked Siteleaf out yet, I strongly recommend you do.

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