A blog about everything by Jack Baty

Tag: WordPress

Alternatives to using Gutenberg

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that I’d like to stick with WordPress for a while. Let’s also say that I dislike writing anything more than a sentence or two using the Gutenberg editor. (I don’t enjoy block editors anywhere.)

What are my options?

iA Writer offers my favorite writing environment. It’s just so damn nice1. It publishes to WordPress fine. The issue is that it’s a one-and-done situation. Once I hit “Publish”, any edits need to be done in WordPress. I write fast and loose, so there are always edits. Also, Writer only allows for publishing Draft posts. I never post drafts. Or, more accurately, all my posts are drafts forever. Just let me put it out there.

MarsEdit is a complete and powerful way to publish. It handles a variety of scenarios and takes many parts of WordPress into account (e.g. Featured Images, etc.). It does two-way publishing2, meaning I can write and edit in either/both Gutenberg or MarsEdit and not lose anything in translation. It has a handy plugin for extracting quotes and links from web pages. It’s author, Daniel Jalkut, is very helpful. My only beef with MarsEdit is that it’s beginning to show its age. I know, shallow, but I can’t help but be a little put off by it.

Otherwise, there’s Ulysses, but I recently uninstalled it, so that’s out.

Anything else? Maybe it’s less hassle in the long run to just use Gutenberg.

  1. I’m typing this post in iA Writer. ↩︎
  2. Now I’m editing the published post in MarsEdit. ↩︎

We’re on SiteGround

Whenever I’ve felt like using WordPress, I would spin up a new pre-built DigitalOcean instance and that has always worked fine. I’m mostly capable of managing servers and dealing with issues and patches and such, so running my own WordPress instance isn’t a big deal.

This morning, though, was different. I was figuring out why image metadata wasn’t being included in resized images. I assumed it had to do with the GD library I thought WordPress used by default, so I went in to check on ImageMagick’s status. Sure enough, the WordPress “Site Health” area of the control panel claimed that PHP’s Imagick module wasn’t installed.

First off, why? I could’ve sworn it always had been before, but perhaps not. Should be easy enough, especially with DigitalOcean’s usually thorough documentation.

Long story short, installing ImageMagick and installing/enabling the PHP module was easy enough after some Googling. Except it didn’t work. The control panel still claimed that the module was missing. It wasn’t long before I got into the “start throwing things at the wall and see what sticks” mode of server management, so I decided it might be better to pay someone to manage things for me.

There are a few highly-regarded outfits offering managed WordPress hosting. I basically flipped a coin and signed up for SiteGround.

Migrating the site using their migration plugin took about 15 minutes. A quick DNS change and I was running on the new platform with nary a glitch1. Speed seems acceptable. I enabled Imagick in PHP via their control panel and I’m off and running.

A year of hosting cost me $36. That’s less than three months of Digital Ocean’s instance, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Sometimes it’s nice taking the easy route.

  1. I did have to manually request an SSL cert (from Let’s Encrypt) via the SG control panel, though. ↩︎

Blogging like it’s Twenty Twelve

WordPress theme designers need to calm the fuck down, IMO

 Me, in 2021

Has every WordPress theme created since 2012 been competing to see how overwrought it can become? Seems like it. All I want is a simple, chronological, full-post layout with decent typography and a clean layout.

I spent a couple of hours scouring the web for a suitable theme. I couldn’t find one. Also, have you searched for WordPress info recently? What an SEO contest nightmare of ads, newsletter popups, and content farm nonsense.

And don’t get me started on “full-site” editing. JFC I don’t want to design the thing myself. I just want to pick a nice theme and start writing. Too much to ask, apparently.

Anyway, I got so frustrated that, in protest, I installed the Twenty Twelve theme from the WordPress folks and it’s as good as anything out there, so here we are.

I expect to interact with this blog primarily from external tools such as iA Writer or MarsEdit or even Emacs. I haven’t installed a single plugin yet1, and have only made a couple of minor CSS tweaks. I don’t care if it’s ugly, I just want it simple and familiar.

My favorite feature of using Twenty Twelve is that it tricks me into believing I don’t give a shit about endlessly tweaking my blog’s design and that I only care about the writing.

  1. Not exactly true, but I consider JetPack part of WordPress. ↩︎

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