How I Write Blog Posts

This is how I’m going to start writing blog posts.

vim on the left, Marked on the right
vim on the left, Marked on the right

The Problem With WordPress

Annoyingly, WordPress has lost a few of my posts now because it doesn’t really act as I would like it to.

Over the holidays I was at my partner’s parents’ house, and was happily typing away on my laptop. I’ve been writing up my findings of the web sockets “game” which turned into a fairly lengthy blog post (still working on it!). I was pretty happy that WordPress was occasionally telling me that it was auto-saving once in a while. I get called away for dinner, so I just close the lid of my laptop.

My state really should be saved at that point, right? That’s what you expect when you leave your computer – for the stuff you had on the screen to still be there. Unfortunately, that’s not what happen. I came back to the session expiring in WordPress, so I had to log in again. I went to find the draft post I was working on but it was missing a couple of paragraphs.

Thinking that auto-saving every few minutes is enough is just not cutting it. Every character I type is important, and each character I type should be saved. That might not be economical to do with AJAX though, so I can understand why WordPress avoided that solution. Similarly, localStorage isn’t good enough yet (at least that’s the last I heard of it).

Despite finding the WordPress writing UI really pleasant, this is fatal flaw that I can’t live with. The possibility of losing massive chunks of work is too high.

Using Vim and Marked

Whenever I’d write in WordPress I’d almost always use the Distraction Free mode – it strips out all of the UI, and leaves you with just a blinking cursor and the words “just write.” There are still some distractions with it however: my tabs for one thing, Facebook blinking at me telling me I’ve new messages.

vim on the overhand literally just has a blank, black screen and lets me type.

Of course, I could just use Notepad (or whatever OS X’s alternative is), but the opportunity to spend more time in vim is exciting for me. With IDE’s I’m using at work getting more bloated, the slim line text editor is looking more and more appealing, so I’m happy to be getting more experience. It’s true that coding and writing are different styles of keyboard usage, but being more comfortable with it can’t be a bad thing.

I like the idea of having most my posts’ content backed up outside of WordPress, in normal text files, too.

The problem, you might bring up, is that I lose the WYSIWYG editor. Not to worry though! I have Marked for that. Marked basically watches for changes in a file, and then renders the markdown for it. I love this. You can’t use Markdown in WordPress, which is a shame. Markdown really makes styling easier since I never have to reach for my mouse to go to some button to make the highlighted text into a link. I just wrap it in brackets, or add some asterisks for emphasis.

Typing code in WordPress was dire too. Going into the source view, wrapping <pre> tags around things (which WordPress would inevitably muck up). I don’t want to see HTML when I’m writing, I just want to write.

Getting it into WordPress

This is pretty simple too. Marked lets me copy the HTML of the view it’s rendered, and I just paste that into the source of the WordPress editor.

I do have to manage adding images into the posts within WordPress, but that’s not a bad experience at all.

It’s nice to be back in charge!

I switched back to, on a hosted server from .com since my domain wrapping ran out, and I was getting bored of the walled garden anyway. I wanna start WordPress hacking again and it’s hard to do that with a blog to play around with!

I’ve switched to a new theme too, which is freaking amazing. Not just the front end, but the back end is so comprehensive. There’s a few changes and little bugs I’ve noticed already, but I’ll fix them and send them back to the author when I get a few minutes.

WordPress contribution is not for the technically inept.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I love WordPress. It’s perfect for what it does. And even when you want it to do something it wasn’t made for, you can probably find an add on to make it (or at least hire a developer to make one for you).

When you need to make one you kinda run into problems though. The documentation is so damn iffy, and the support is fairly slow moving. The irc channel sucks. So, for the good of everyone, whenever I have spare time I’m going to do a bit on the documentation (which is in a wiki format). I can’t believe there are still some fairly common functions that’re used in WordPress that aren’t even covered yet.

A while ago the only support I could get was from a wiki page in French. Fortunately I could read it, but still. That’s just not good.

None of the code for WordPress is commented either, which I think is a really important thing within an open source project! You can’t get more developers if they can’t understand what your code is doing without rummaging through every include. It’s just not cool.

Last night’s happiness involved a gun, and some mutant rats

Just off the bat, I’m getting really annoyed my my mysqld dieing all the time. I’ve no idea what’s causing it, except that maybe WordPress (which seems to be the only affected thing at the moment) is a little too intensive for my 64Mb server.

Database dieing was the reason I didn’t do last night’s happiness update, but I’ll do it now.

Yesterday’s most happiest thing for me was probably getting Fallout 3 for my xbox. That game is freaking awesome. It seems huge and expansive, however I’m worried that – because things don’t respawn (at least, I don’t think they do. There’re still dead bodies lying around that I killed in-game days ago) – I’ll kill everything and then won’t be able to level up any more. Last night, the stupid Brotherhood of Steel guys killed half of the Raiders before I had a chance.

I only found out you can queue up attacks in the VAT thing a few hours into playing…

I bought Ghost Recon too, but I don’t really like it, so I’m putting it on ebay. I only need one bid to get my money back, to be fair, and I think people will be looking to collect as many game as they can during the holidays. Especially with people getting new xboxes and stuff for Christmas.

Confidently inexperienced.

I feel like there’s something I should be doing, but there really isn’t.

I just write up my CV, which I just need to get someone to check (I’ll probably email Paul, and ask him to take a look at the online version). It’s a paragraph over a page, so I’m not sure what to do with that. I read a post somewhere that the requirement for CVs to be only a page is silly now, since people have more roles within their jobs than before, so they take up more space explaining.

I have a list of job openings that I’m perfect for all printed off and ready for me to sort out. They’re based sort of around the West Midlands, which means I’ll be able to move out. I’m very nervous, and don’t feel like I have enough confidence to have other people relying on me yet. I suppose the only way to get that confidence is to do it; fake it till you make it.

I might actually start writing up a plug in for WordPress, for the competition, though I’m not sure when the deadline is. Either way, a useful plug in would still generate traffic, and hopefully donations! More importantly, it’d be something good to put on my CV as actual work experience. At the moment, I’ve had to really talk up what experience I do have.