The Living Thing / Notebooks :

Plain-text blogging workflow.

Companion piece to academic writing workflow, wherein I will mention plaintext lifestyle choices available without the complicated fiddly academic bits such as citations.


How hard can it be?

(long pause)

Software choice

There are lots of tools to do this. There are in fact a few hundred static site generators for plain text blogging.

The top few, for academics at least, seem to be

You can find many more.

Some, like lettersmith take a DIY route; just make a simple blog without excessive abstraction

I use Pelican.

As to why I chose Pelican over Jekyll: I am more fluent in Python than Ruby, and those were the two prominent options at the time.

Due to the inscrutable tides of hype, Hugo/Blogdown might be the most popular move now, especially if you want to access the mind-share of other academics, such as the rbind community.

See also the blogdown-book.

Gatsby is even fancier.

A lot of these are made easier if you have a localhost dev server.

Pelican pro-tips


Hugo tips

Caddy has a builtin automatic hugo editor.

On hosting choice

In the past, I used many online services to handle my information; but I’ve been burned too many times by these businesses going under, or being too inflexible to evolve with my workflow, or relying on me being constantly online, which is not a given in many parts of the world I want to work. Waste of time, loss of data. (So long,,, evernote, google docs…) Fuck that.

The only online services I use these days are:

I pay for their services and also I am minimally comitted to them; all the data I have on these services is in open formats.

Editor setup

There are many options now if you use markdown. A brief note here. Markdown preview extended turns atom or vs code into good markdown editors, including mathematical equations.

For a combination blogging tool and encrypted markdown edition note storing you might want to use something like standard notes, which costs some money when you use the bells and whistles, although might be worth it if you nots include some confidential ones.

Preview tools make it all nicer.

Awaiting refiling

To mention:

Gitit is a wiki backed by a git, darcs, or mercurial filestore. Pages and uploaded files can be modified either directly via the VCS’s command-line tools or through the wiki’s web interface. Pandoc is used for markup processing, so pages may be written in (extended) markdown, reStructuredText, LaTeX, HTML, or literate Haskell, and exported in ten different formats, including LaTeX, ConTeXt, DocBook, RTF, OpenOffice ODT, and MediaWiki markup.

Other things to audit for UI goodness: