Over the years I have used so many tools to publish this site. The early days saw it start with some html template like the now defunct pagemill to a custom design with a dynamic build and then to wordpress and now the latest incarnation is written in markdown and plain old text.
I think over the past year or so I have tried every blogging tool known on every OS to try and find the perfect solution and I keep coming back to plain text.
Plain Text Benefits
Probably the biggest advantage of writing in plain text is that it just works. I don’t have to worry about whether other products will be around in future years if I need to open or edit my files at a later date. (pagemill, noted above has been long discontinued)
Had I written in text, I would still have access to my files and have an archive of all my work I had done over the years [^backups]
That’s why I am reluctant to trust any app that promises ease of use or uses their own format. One example would be using Google Docs.
Writing in Google Docs is a great tool and combined with the gabriel add on I can write in Google Docs, add images and then hit the publish and it will post directly to github pages in markdown.
This is great, but what if Google docs disappears? or more likely, github chnages something and the add-on does not work any more. Then I have the files in docs, but no way to easily export to markdown and I’m left looking for another solution to write with
Another tool I have been considering is Marxico, which allows you to easily sync your writing to evernote. But again, this system has it’s limitations with the biggest being you can’t edit the post in evernote later. What if evernote isn’t around? or Marxico? Again, I would be screwed.
But with plain text all this goes away. I write, copy and paste in a CMS or upload to my host of choice on my publishing host of choice and all my stuff gets processed. easily.
Plain Text Disadvantages
Of course, all is not sunshine and unicorns with this system. Because I write in markdown, this assumes the markdown format stands the test of time and I can edit or publish in this format for years to come. I could be screwd down the road. But at least I would still have the text of the article. I might have to do some tweaking to add links and change the formatting but at very least I would have the text itself.
I’m done trying to find the perfect blogging tool when I can use almost any device to write in plain text. Plain text removes the friction of formats and file extensions and worrying whether I will be able to open my files in the future.
It’s also easy as I can use almost app to write with that exports to plain text - from simple text editors to distraction free and feature filled markdown editors - almost any program that allows me to format to plain text will do for me.
Sometimes, the simplest way is the best way.