In this post, I’ll write about my process to find a more productive and flexible setup for my various sites, projects, blog etc. I’ll descibe how I moved away from my old hosting provider and Wordpress and found a setup that lets me create content on my iPad Pro.
Moving away from legacy hosting
Not long ago, my web hosting setup was a lot different than it is now. Back then, I used an old hosting provider for my sites, that forced me to use FTP to publish any changes I made. Since I already used cloud-based services for other projects, this setup was just a frustrating old habit that I had to change.
Two years ago, I decided to do something about all this. Instead of staying with my old hosting provider for yet another year, I created static versions of my sites and moved them to GitHub, using its excellent hosting capabilities. Since GitHub has amazing (and free) domain configuration, I could use my existing domain names. The entire process was a very positive experience, and I can now push my changes with git, instead of having to use FTP.
Once the static sites were in place, I started rebuilding them with Jekyll, which is a static site generator that works great with GitHub. It lets you create pages, data files, templates, blog posts etc. and builds a static site that only consists of HTML, CSS and JS. It’s a very powerful setup, with a drawback that you have no backend, which makes it a non-option for many web sites. However, if you can use a static site, I can recommend Jekyll. The speed of a static site is excellent and you can use various tricks to make the setup very powerful.
The end result is a nice setup that lets me push changes with git instead of using an FTP client. If you haven’t tried even GitHub hosting in combination with Jekyll, I strongly advice you to give it a try.
Moving away from Wordpress
I started blogging at Blogger many years ago and was very happy to replace it with Wordpress (also many years ago). However, as time passed, the Wordpress limitations started showing, with every post having some tiny style and markup variation, code blocks caused strange side-effects in the underlying markup etc. I needed something like LaTeX, but for the web.
After moving my personal web site to GitHub, I decided to move my blog there as well. Since Jekyll supports Markdown (which is like LaTeX, but for the web), I could now finally start focusing on content and stop fiddling around with html markup.
The end result is a nice setup that lets me focus on the content. Being able to push changes with git is amazing, and gives me version control over my posts. Markdown is a wonderful format that removes the HTML complexity from the creative process. If you haven’t tried it out, I strongly advice you to do so.
Blogging on my iPad Pro
With these changes in place, I still missed being able to create content on my iPad Pro, which I bought as a lightweight laptop replacement. It’s such an amazing device and its smart keyboard cover is so nice, but I haven’t been able to find a productive use for it.
Tonight, I decided to give it a go, with the goal to find a great git client and a text editor that can interact with the client and edit files in my git repos.
For git, I decided to try WorkingCopy. It’s free to try out, but you have to unlock push capabilities and pro features with an IAP. I found WorkingCopy to be a wonderful client. It’s intuitive and makes great use of the iPad as a lightweight git environment.
For text editing, I decided to purchase iAWriter and…well, it’s one of the best iOS apps I’ve ever tried. I’m amazed with how intuitive it is. Writing is a pure joy, its Markdown support is amazing and I really couldn’t ask for more.
The interactions between the two apps also proved to work great. After cloning a repo in WorkingCopy, you can open any file in iAWriter, then return to WorkingCopy to push any changes.
I’m writing this post on my iPad Pro, from a sunny resort in Egypt. If you can read this, it means that iAWriter and WorkingCopy could save and push it to GitHub…
…and that my search is finally over.