pmuellr is Patrick Mueller

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

blogging process

In "Lesson learned", my colleague Robert Berry recounts 'losing' a blog post he was editing. Not the first time I've heard this recently. I thought I'd document my process of creating blog posts, in case it's of any use to anyone. Because I don't lose blog posts.

My secret: I use files.

Although many blogging systems let you edit your blog posts 'online', and even let you save them as drafts, I don't actually go into my blogging system to enter a blog post, until it's complete. The process is:

  • Create a new blog entry by going into the Documents/blog-posts folder in my home directory of my primary computer, and creating a new file, the name of which will be the title of the blog post. The 'extension' of the file is .html.

  • Edit the blog post in html, in a plain old text editor.

  • While editing, at some point, double click on the file in my file system browser (Explorer, PathFinder, Nautilus, etc) to preview it in a web browser.

  • Churn on the edit / proof-read-in-a-web-browser cycle, for hours or days.

  • Ready to post? First, check all links.

  • Surf over to blog editing site, enter the body of the post into the text editor via the clipboard, set the title, categories / links, etc.

  • Preview the post on the blog editing site. Press the "Publish" button.

  • Move the file with the blog post from Documents/blog-posts to Documents/blog-posts/posted .

HTML TextAreas are an extremely poor replacement for a decent text editor. Using HTML is handy, since some (most?) blogging systems will accept it as input, and you can preview it yourself with your favorite web browser. Saving the files, even after finished posting, is a convenient backup mechanism, should you ever lose your entire blog.

Besides these obvious advantages, I noticed some behaviours of other blogging systems that I really didn't like, when saving drafts of posts 'online':

  • On one system I used, the title saved with the first draft was used as the slug of the blog URL. Even if I later changed the title, the slug remained some abbreviated version of the first saved title. Ick.

  • On one system I used, tags I saved with a post ended up showing up in the global list of tags on the blog. Even if there weren't any published posts that had used that tag. Ick.

I should note that I also have a directory Documents/blog-posts/unused for posts which I've started, and decided not to post. The "island of misfit blog posts", as it were, but "unused" was shorter.

There you have it! Since you religiously backup files on your primary computer you'll have no concern about ever losing a blog post again!

1 comment:

shannon said...
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