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…he might also figure out how to dovetail them all together to make something more interesting and useful than Gutenberg, which has taken hundreds of developers and a magnitude larger amount of time to create.

Perhaps some additional competition against Gutenberg would help speed WordPress (and everyone else for that matter) toward making a simpler and more direct publishing interface?

Source: Chris Aldrich

“…he might also figure out how to dovetail them all together to make something more interesting and useful than Gutenberg, which has taken hundreds of developers and a magnitude larger amount of time to create.”

Gutenberg. Where can I start? This has done so much to disrupt my writing flow and my workflow.

Ironically it is all about blocks. I say ironic because when I teach people how to write, one of things I tell them is to remove all the roadblocks in front of readers. Gutenberg puts roadblocks in front of writers.

One roadblock is that it is now harder to export a post from my favourite Markdown editor (iA Writer) to WordPress. It works, but it’s not as smooth and seamless. The barrier may be small, but tiny barriers can disrupt flow.

At the same time, Gutenberg makes it hard for me to syndicate material to publisher sites with their own CMSs. In the past I could write a post, then pick it up as simple HTML and post that into the other CMS. Gutenberg allows you to copy HTML, but it’s badly broken and needs extensive editing.

A persuasive look at the many reasons why you should have your own website, and some of the benefits it will bring you.

Source: Why I Have a Website and You Should Too · Jamie Tanna | Software (Quality) Engineer

Jamie Tanna’s post lists many good reasons to have a website. It’s written from his point of view as a software engineer, many of the reasons translate directly to other trades and professions.

A powerful reason is to own your own little patch of the online world, what used to be called cyberspace. As Tanna says it can be many things, a hub where people contact you, an outlet for your writing and other creative work, or a sophisticated curriculum vitae.

Now you may be thinking you can do all these things on Facebook, Twitter, Medium or Linkedin. That’s true up to a point.

Yet you don’t own those spaces. You are part of someone else’s business model. You don’t have control over how they look, you can’t even be sure they will be there in the long term. After all, there were people who thought the same about  Geocities, Google+ or MySpace in the past.

Creating your own site takes time, effort and maybe a little money. It doesn’t have to take a lot of any of these things. You’ll need to pay for a domain name… that’s roughly $20 a year. If you are hard-pressed financially there are free options with companies like WordPress. You can get a basic WordPress site up in an hour or so.

You don’t need to be a writer to own your own website. If you post things to Facebook or Twitter, use your site instead (or as well as). It could be a place for photography.

One thing you will find is that a website gives you more of a voice than you’ll get on other people’s sites.

 

 

iA Writer 5.2 Macos white screen

iA Writer 5.2 Macos white screenLeft to my own devices I prefer to use iA Writer over any other writing tool. It’s been my main word processor for the past seven years.

This might sound odd because iA Writer isn’t a word processor. It is a simple text editor app that runs on both iOS and MacOS. I have installed it on my MacBook, iPad and iPhone.

Late last year the software was updated to version 5.2. While iA Writer was already my favourite writing tool, the newest version makes for a better experience.

That’s because the update addresses the one aspect of the software I wasn’t comfortable with.

Stripped down

Unlike word processors and other fancy writing tools, iA Writer has a stripped down interface. I’m using it now to write this post on my Mac.

All I can see on the display is the Mac’s built-in menu bar across the top. A blank screen that I’m filling with my words and a small status bar at the bottom of the display. It’s the nearest digital equivalent to writing with a manual typewriter on a blank sheet of paper.

If that’s too much, you can enter a full screen mode and the menu bar disappears from sight. There’s also a focus mode that can hide everything except the paragraph or sentence you are working on.

No fiddling with iA Writer

This simplicity allows me to focus on writing. There’s a wonderful passage of text written by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams where he describes the creative ways he prevaricates with his work. It involves tinkering with fonts, type sizes, widths and so on.

The mere presence of all those options can be a distraction. iA Writer does away with it. As every long-term Apple user understands, restricting your options can boost productivity.

While, on one level, this iA Writer approach has always worked well for me, it has, at times been a problem. In the earlier versions of the software those choices were too restrictive. The text size was fixed and there was a strict monospace Courier-like typewriter typeface.

Legibility

Good in theory, but in practice we reached a point where I was struggling to read my text on the screen.

I have an eye problem and every so often have restricted vision, to get around it I need larger, clearer typefaces. When that wasn’t an option with iA Writer I found myself using different writing tools. The, now apparently defunct or neglected Byword was a solid alternative with variable fonts and text sizes.

iA Writer addressed these issues with the last two releases of the software. Version 5.2 builds on version 5. There are now three typeface choices: Mono, Duo and Quattro. As the names suggest the first is monospaced, the second uses up to two spaces and the third can use as many as four.

There’s a lot of nerdy material on the iA Writer website about fonts. It all boils down to the newer options making it much easier to read your words on the screen.

Uno, Duo… Quattro

The most recent typeface, Quattro combines the benefits of fixed and proportional spaced fonts. It is particularly easy on my eyes. Better still, it is legible if I need to read or write on a smaller screen, say an iPhone.

iA Writer has always done a good job of exporting to Microsoft Word. The latest version improves this functionality. If you want you can write documents with footnotes, tables or even inline images and convert them to Word .docx format. This is essential for my work as almost every client expects to see a Word document.

The software also integrates with other services. The only one I use all the time is the post to WordPress option. This was sometimes a little tricky with earlier versions of iA Writer but has been good since version four.

Sharing an iA Writer strength

You can also save documents as HTML, which is powerful when fixing web copy. As you might expect with a made-for-Apple app, iA Writer deals brilliantly with the internal Apple sharing functionality. They work well with the iOS Files app and on both operating systems with iCloud. One neat aspect of this is that I can draft a post on my Mac and then edit on an iPad or iPhone later. You can also link them both to Dropbox.

When I first purchased iA Writer for iOS, the price was, from memory, US$3. That was an introductory deal. It later moved to $5. Today it is US$9. The MacOS version has increased more in price, today it is US$29. Get it from the app store. You have to buy the app again when there’s a major upgrade, but the price is low enough for this to not be a deal breaker.

There is a US$20 Windows app and a free one for Android. There are trial versions at the iA Writer web site.

One last thing. iA Writer stores documents as plain text, but it uses Markdown formatting. This is a simple way of adding headers, bold, italics, hyperlinks and so on to you text. These show up in the text editor as punctuation marks. You can then create a preview to show how the document looks after converting it to HTML, Word format or whatever. It might sound off-putting, but in practice it’s easy to use.