No Blogging Platform is Perfect

Why I separated my microposts from the long-form posts? The real test for any blogging platform is how simple it makes it to write from both a desktop and a mobile device. I have come to realize that no platform does it perfectly.

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Artwork by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The real test for any blogging platform is how simple it makes it to write from both a desktop and a mobile device. I have come to realize that no platform does it perfectly.

I look for these features in an editor from any platform before I select it. It needs to have a simple editor that works well for posts of any length, works well from a device of any form. It needs to support building drafts before posts are published. It needs to support a simple editing workflow. That's it. And even these simple needs are not fulfilled by a single platform.

WordPress has a decent mobile app, supporting all the necessary features of the platform. But the Gutenberg block editor is so convoluted to work with even on desktops that working with it on a mobile device is an absolute pain. It has too many bells and whistles that a blogger with simple text writing needs rarely uses. It is good to capture the ideas in short and expand on them on a desktop. No wait, the editor is pain even on desktop.

The static site generators like Hugo, Jekyll, Eleventy etc. need a CMS to be tacked on to them. Sure, you can choose a CMS of your choice, but for me, the experience never worked well. I have tried multiple static site generators, but the overall publishing workflow is unnecessarily complicated for my simple needs.

Of course, there is always an option to use a text editor of your choice on your machine and publish the posts from the editors – if the integration exists for your selected platform that is. But that works best when you draft a post from a single machine. For me, that's typically not the case. For example, just this post has been written across three different devices – a web-based CMS is a must for me.

Another promising option is connecting to IndieWeb and using any Micropub clients to publish to your sites. But unfortunately, after years of enabling all my sites with IndieWeb components and publishing via Micropub clients, I have come to realize that none is, by design, a CMS in any form. I find them lacking in supporting creation of drafts to work on later or editing of existing posts.

Sure, it has all the definitions for you to build such a system over, but that's an unnecessary overhead that I am not ready to sign up for.

Micro.blog simplies hosting of a simple blog. It has a pretty decent iOS app, and a suite of well-defined APIs. A few third-party apps have already been build over those APIs. But the platform lacks a good editor – its editor is too basic for any post longer than a regular micro post. Sure, it works. But barely. On a mobile device, it does not work at all. The recommendation seems to be to use any of the mobile apps, but they all lack the features I need.

When I moved my blog to Micro.blog, I had published this concern.

I wonder if I would be ok to post mainly from mobile, but as a regular micropub post. WordPress always allowed me to post so much more. I am not sure what m.b allows. It should be good enough, but is it really? That would be a test.

Unfortunately, I have realized that the platform doesn't pass that test, wholly. The editing experience remains poor for the long form posts – both from a desktop and a mobile device. It's a great system with a promising base, but still has a long way to go before I can use it for the longer form content.

So where does this leave me?

I have been struggling a lot from the beginnning to find that one good platform that addresses all my needs mentioned above. But, unfortunately, I have failed to find a single one that does all the aspects well. I love Micro.blog as it solves my simple needs of hosting with a no-nonsense platform for blog. It works great for micro posts – I can live with the mobile workflow for such short posts.

And I have recently fallen in love with Ghost for the long-form needs. It has a great editor on both the desktop and mobile devices, it has a brilliant CMS for my drafting and editing needs and is a solid platform all-round that I can host myself. WordPress failed big time in that aspect.

So, at least for the foreseeable future, here's how my posting is going to be. Micro.blog for micro-posts. Self-hosted Ghost for long-form posts, that includes my newsletter.

Why a special space for long-form writing you may ask?

I believe the choice of your blogging platform affects the type of posts you write. If the writing experience you have with a platform does not suit a particular form, you will invariably stop writing those posts.

My love for writing words is satiated only by the long-form posts. That love is also the reason why I started writing on the web in the first place. I can't stop writing them just because the platform I choose for my convinience does not support such writing well.

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