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Computing Thoughts
Update: Search for New Programming Blog Platform
by Bruce Eckel
June 26, 2014
Summary
I've continued my background task of finding a new home for programming articles. I'm not there yet, but I've made some progress.

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My first experiment (see previous Artima Post) was on Codrspace, which has numerous benefits (one of which is that it seems to be specifically for coding blogs). That's definitely a candidate, but I'm a bit uncertain about it because:

  1. The copyright on the Codrspace home page is "©2011 CodrSpace.com - 0.8 alpha - All Rights Reserved."
  2. I'm not quite sure where the posts are stored; you log in using your Github account so I was thinking that they might be stored there (there are systems that do use Github, apparently) but I could find no evidence of this.

After looking at this article, I decided to try Slivrback, but quickly discovered that it did not have keyboard shortcuts and also, while it claimed to use Markdown the first thing I tried didn't work (if you indent a block of text it treats it as a block of code). When the first thing doesn't work it has me reluctant to invest more time because I don't want to find out later that even more things don't work. Silvrback seems nice enough for non-programming blogs but it doesn't seem right for me.

The Silvrback experience got me looking in a different direction. Markdown seems to have become the first choice of text-based markup languages. In combination with this, static post generators are one way to go -- there even appear to be some that are generated by simply storing your markdown in your Dropbox or Github account.

Here's an article that looks at 5 static blog generators.

So maybe this is the right approach: write posts in Markdown, and use a static generator to generate and publish the post. For this to work, I need to not worry about the issues I had with Silvrback (no editing support and problems with some features). To solve that problem, it turns out that there are lots of Markdown editors available, so you can write your post locally and publish it when finished.

I've switched back from the Mac to Windows 8 (with no regrets), and I use Gizmo's Freeware Reviews a lot when I need a new tool. It's not really about "free," it's just that I have better luck finding tools through that site. And sure enough, they have a recommendation for a Markdown Editor for Windows (MarkdownPad) which looks very promising. It shows you what the results will look like in the right-hand pane, so you don't have the annoyance of switching windows in order to verify your layout. The very reasonable "pro" version ($15) also supports Github-Flavored Markdown which looks like it solves a number of important problems for coding-based blogs.

So this is my current thinking -- use MarkdownPad for writing and publish with a static blog generator -- perhaps even Github's own Pages?

Update: MarkdownPad is quite nice, and generates HTML so apparently no intermediate tools are needed -- so I'm not quite sure about the systems that require the intermediates, what they add or why they are needed.

Here's a summary of Markdown editors.

Here's a Markdown-based blogging system that runs completely on the client.

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About the Blogger

Bruce Eckel (www.BruceEckel.com) provides development assistance in Python with user interfaces in Flex. He is the author of Thinking in Java (Prentice-Hall, 1998, 2nd Edition, 2000, 3rd Edition, 2003, 4th Edition, 2005), the Hands-On Java Seminar CD ROM (available on the Web site), Thinking in C++ (PH 1995; 2nd edition 2000, Volume 2 with Chuck Allison, 2003), C++ Inside & Out (Osborne/McGraw-Hill 1993), among others. He's given hundreds of presentations throughout the world, published over 150 articles in numerous magazines, was a founding member of the ANSI/ISO C++ committee and speaks regularly at conferences.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2014 Bruce Eckel. All rights reserved.

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