August 1, 2021

Blogging Setup. Mac & iPad Parity.

This was originally written in July 2021 for the Hemispheric Newsletter as part of One Prime Plus for the Hemispheric Views podcast.

I have had running on blot for several years now (since ~2018) and it continues to be great. The setup is easy, clean, and fast. If you haven’t seen blot in action, at a high level, it’s a folder structure that you maintain and blot uses that structure to create the site. There are a million of these kinds of static blogging engines that have come and gone, but this is the one I like and feels like it will be around for the long haul. Anyway, enough of my sales pitch! Blot has two options for how your files are stored and accessed; Dropbox or git. Dropbox is arguably the easier option since it’s drag and drop, in fact, this is what I was using for quite a while because of that simplicity. I don’t use Dropbox for anything else so it seemed kind of silly to keep it around just for my website when git is available as well. I also found that updating the site through git was faster than waiting for Dropbox to do whatever it needed to do to sync files. I also recently switched to using a 13″ iPad Pro instead of a MacBook Pro for my secondary computer (::a story for another day::) and using Dropbox on iPad for this kind of setup wasn’t good at all.

I should probably step back and describe a bit how I have things set up on the Mac. I use Nova for all my web-related editing. It’s a great text editor that I like very much and also has git integration which makes it a one-stop-shop for all things web code. My blog posts originate in Craft and then eventually move over to Nova to publish. This setup removes any friction to publishing so this means the only thing that gets in my way of writing posts is me not writing them. No one to blame by myself. Perfect.

Screenshot of Nova Mac app

The ideal solution for the iPad would be Nova on iPadOS but I won’t hold my breath on that… So, now we get to how I complete this process on my iPad and attempt to keep the flow at parity with my Mac flow. I use two apps on the iPad. One for the git portion and one for the editing. For managing git and files there doesn’t seem to be any better way to go than Working Copy. This is a great visual git client that is quite intuitive with a nice layout for managing your git repositories. It also acts as a file provider within iPadOS so this means other apps have access to these files much like iCloud Drive. The second app is Textastic for the actual text editing. Because of the file provider ability you can view your git directory structure all within Textastic so there is minimal back and forth between the two apps. It’s as easy as making your edits in Textastic, switch to Working Copy, and push your changes to the server. Done.

Screenshot of Textastic iPad app

For those familiar with git, you already know this, but for everyone else, the premise of git is that it stores and controls information, usually source code. When you make changes to your code you create small notes or commit messages” with each update (unless you are a monster in which case you probably don’t comment your code either). A side benefit that I like about this for blogging is that you now have a record of what changes you have made in the past and can reference them if something breaks in the future or if you simply need to know what you changed and when. It’s 100% up to you to make sure these commit messages are useful, but if done well they can be a very nice addition that you get for free simply by using git as your backend.

Screenshot of Working Copy iPad app

So there you have it! My complete blogging setup from Mac to iPad. It was the one worry I had when moving from the MacBook Pro to the iPad 13”, but that worry is long gone now with these great tools. I imagine apps will change around from time to time as new text editors land on the iPad but that is fine given the awesome foundation infrastructure that this setup is built on!

And yes, it is possible to add the Dracula theme to Textastic! 🧛‍♂️

Blogging Blot Git Dropbox Nova Craft Textastic Working Copy Dracula

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