Moving the blog around again (and again)

A funny thing happened recently. I was sitting at my desk one afternoon playing with the new iA Writer updates, and I wanted to test iA Writer’s new style check features, so I opened my Blot folder.

Uh oh, I knew right away that this was a mistake, because it reminded me how nice it is to edit simple Markdown posts in iA Writer (or BBEdit, or Typora, or Ulysses, or Emacs, or…) and have things magically collected and posted to a blog.

WordPress can do anything. It works with all kinds of other tools, and its ecosystem is unmatched. It also bores me and I don’t like using it. Editing with “blocks” can be handy, but more often than not they get in the way. To avoid this, I bought the Iceberg editor plugin so editing would feel more like living in text files.

I don’t like writing in Iceberg. It seemed like a great solution at first, but it feels like an editor pretending to be something it’s not. (Or more accurately, it’s pretending not to be something it is). You know what feels like editing a Markdown file? Editing a Markdown file!

My move to WordPress didn’t stick. I can never get comfortable in WordPress for any length of time. There are too many things about it I don’t like.

I don’t like any of WordPress themes I’ve found. They look like they were designed by recent graduates of some SEO-self-branding-professional-development course conducted by a YouTuber “coach” fresh out of a real job. If I cared about an “audience” or subscriptions I might feel differently, but I don’t, so I don’t.

I don’t like updating plugins and themes on a daily basis, even though it’s easy to do. I don’t like having to host yet another app/stack.

Long story short, while I pretend to have valid “reasons” for doing this, they’re really only cover for the fact that I do it because it’s fun.

So yeah, this blog is back to being managed by Blot. Blot is an occasionally fragile but glorious tool made and supported by one person (Is it still just David?) and remains a pleasure to use.

Fun, huh?

Iceberg editor for WordPress

When using WordPress, I often use a separate app for writing, editing and publishing posts. This can be anything from MarsEdit, iA Writer, Ulysses, or even Emacs. I prefer writing in a nice editor, preferably in Markdown. In fact, when using a statically-rendered blog engine such as Hugo or Blot, I must use a separate editor.

I switched from a static publishing system back to WordPress for this blog because I prefer being able to edit posts right where I’m reading. In other words, if I’m reading something and want to amend it or fix a typo, I can simply click the “Edit” link, make the change, and click “Update”. With a static generator I first need to find and open the post locally, make the change, and republish. There are convoluted ways to make this easier, but then that doesn’t really make things easier.

What I dislike about editing in WordPress is the Gutenberg editor. Actually, Gutenberg isn’t bad. Block editing can be quite handy when adding images, quotes, formatting, etc. But for just dumping words into a post, Gutenberg gets in the way. Writing in Gutenberg doesn’t feel good.

This is where Iceberg comes in.

Iceberg is a beautiful, flexible writing editor for crafting posts with the WordPress block editor.

Iceberg allows you to write within the WordPress block editor in a way that feels much more natural than working with “blocks”. Our goal is not to remove blocks, but rather to deemphasize them – and any non-essential elements within the editor – to promote a focus on writing.

Here’s what Iceberg looks like for me editing this post right now…

Not bad, right?

The important difference between Iceberg and external editors is that it is actually using Gutenberg’s block editor underneath. It just hides it away. This means I can use the available slash “/” commands when needed, but the rest of the time I’m in a much more pleasant environment than the default WordPress UI.

Iceberg is a WordPress plugin and costs $49. I’ve been investing in my writing, publishing, note-taking setup lately, so I was OK paying what seems like a lot for something like this. I’m writing this post with it, and enjoying it.