Rethinking My Blogging Workflow

I recently wrote here regarding the pains of using Tumblr as a blogging platform. While not much has changed since writing that post (since it was only a couple months ago), I was struck by just how inefficient my blogging workflow was when I finally wrote it all out. Since then, I researched and completely revamped my methodology around how to post on this site.

As I wrote last time around, Tumblr is not built for long-form text editing, let alone long-form writing. Between the sub-par, built-in text editor and the convolution of the UI design, I am less than ecstatic about the built-in tools being my main resource by which to post. In addition, while the mobile apps and Web 2.0 posting tools may be great for those that intend to use their blogs as catch-alls for any and all content, for me personally they leave a lot to be desired when it comes to my purposes for building and maintaining a website.

However, among Tumblr’s more-useful built-in tools, the company has included the ability to post various content types via email and bookmarklet. I have used the bookmarklet in the past with varying amounts of success and continue to use it often with my links blog. Until recently, however, I had a contact in my address book to which to email my Tumblr content and had never used it; in the past, I had seen little to no reason to use what I would consider an antiquated method for creating and posting new content. How ironic then that my iPad has limited sharing options, but among the few is email; now I type this post on my iPad in iA Writer, using Markdown, prepared to email its content to a neglected email address for publishing. With that, I have literally condensed my workflow from a complicated mess of writing, copying, editing, and publishing—using less-than-desirable tools—to only a few steps, using tools with which I am both comfortable and happy.

Markdown

While I have no idea just how many people actually use Markdown or practice anything close to my workflow, I assume that the number of technology bloggers that use the Gruber-published standard is a large majority. I had always been interested in the Markdown standard and was forced to revisit and learn it when I started to write as much as I have here. Copying plain text and adding URLs and other formatting in post was unacceptable as someone who expects to be posting even once a week. In addition, I fancy myself an amateur programmer, so something as simple and useful as Markdown is right up my ally. While I am still learning the idiosyncrasies of Markdown and how to better utilize it for things like footnotes, I have started to use it full-time and feel comfortable with the basics. Tumblr has a basic understanding of the standard, which has allowed for a simplification of my workflow, but if I use anything more than simple links and blockquotes, Tumblr doesn’t always act like it understands Markdown, which has led me to fall in love with an app called Marked.

Marked

The bullseye that made Markdown all the more useful to me was Brett Terpstra’s Marked. Tumblr’s ability at random to misunderstand my Markdown information was infuriating and Marked allowed me to preview the final results of my Markdown, as well as copy out the preview as HTML, which guaranteed the final product would look as I expected, when handed over to Tumblr. In addition, Marked allowed me to add my own CSS information to the preview pane. Now, when I write on my Mac, I’ve got iA Writer open next to Marked, which automatically updates its preview based on my edits. In addition, keyboard shortcuts and automation have allowed me to create a sustainable and reliable workflow.

Aside and Final Thought

As an aside, I have yet to see a huge difference between emailing my content to the Tumblr address book contact instead of simply pasting the HTML output from Marked into the Tumblr window, so my workflow has allowed for either, mainly dependent on where I make the final edits to a post. On my Mac, I copy the HTML directly into Tumblr’s dashboard. On my iPad, I email the content and hope for the best. While the Tumblr email system has caused me problems over the last couple of months, the ability to publish from anywhere is invaluable. In the future, I hope to be able to automate the entire process, so that no matter where I am writing, I can email my content and know that the output is as I expect.

In closing, I am often reminded that I am fairly new to this and, as time goes on, I will continue to grow and mature in my writing, in my personal style, and in my workflow.


Read, Think, Share, Repeat

The Challenges of 2020

TL;DR: Follow this link.

One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.

My wife and I meet with my home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.

I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.

In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.

These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.

I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:

Thanks to a $10,000 matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our 2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.

KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your consideration.