We’re in 2023 and it’s still surprisingly hard to publish a simple Markdown .md text file as part of a blog on the internet. I did a bit of research what tools are out there and how difficult all these different setups are. And honestly I’m pretty shocked and disappointed that for me with very little programming skills it’s more or less impossible to get what I really want.
Are my demands really that special? All I want is to write some Markdown .md files in the Obsidian app locally on my Mac. But really it could be any markdown editor. I then want to magically transform these texts into some HTML files and upload them to my existing blog.
Currently I use the Kirby CMS and its own webeditor to compose and publish my writings. This certainly is an ok workflow. I guess the time I first started thinking about changing my setup here is when I first tried and explored the Obsidian App on my Mac. I found out how much I can do with it and started questioning my original approach.
I know there’s Obsidian Publish, a paid service to publish your writings, your complete vault, on the internet. And I guess without having tried this feature, this would be a way to go for me. But honestly 20 USD per month for just a publishing service is quite a lot of money. You could argue that the Obsidian app itself is free and they need to make money by adding additional paid services around their core product. I can see that and it’s reasonable, even though it would be more straightforward for me to make Obsidian a paid app upfront and include all the necessary services. Anyway 20 USD just for publishing is not right for me.
I also looked back to the days when I still was a teenager when Dreamweaver was the way to go to publish content on the internet. I did a little bit of research here as well, if there are any WYSIWYG HTML editors out there that are worth mentioning. Indeed there are a few options like Nova or Blocs or Rapidweaver. But it still seems to be true that they all can produce quite messy code and then again, it’s not really what I wanted to begin with. I mean, using the Kirby CMS, I already have my Panel, my online dashboard to visually manage my site. So these visual editors really don’t solve any of my current problems.
So I started looking for alternatives. And rather quickly it gets really complicated here. I even don’t fully understand what I’m writing here about. So there are these static website generators out there. These are tools that run locally on your machine and indeed transform .md text files into HTML code. They use templates that you can then tweak(?) to refine what you end up getting. This is exactly what I would want, right? The downside here, and it’s a huge downside for me, is that you need to be fluent in using the command line tool on your machine. Even the process of installing those generators requires some basic programming skills, weird additional tools and package managers, that obviously I don’t have and don’t dare to use. All those quick install guides that require dozen of steps and code inputs to get the service started are sadly too sophisticated for me. This fact makes me really sad, honestly. I wish I would be better at this. But I guess the necessary trade offs for me to learn all those programming skills were always too high. I’m a very visual person, this is where my real skillsets are, so probably there’s not enough room for both worlds. So I’m here in 2023 and only know about some basic HTML and CSS. But I don’t even understand what Ruby, Java, Node.js are and what they are best used for. I’m pretty lost here. But definitely generators like Jekyll or Hugo are very interesting to me, it’s too bad I’m not able to use them, I’m not even capable of installing them.
So I guess at the end of these ramblings the place I currently am is still the right one for me. I can use the GUI of my CMS on my webhost. With quite a bit of try and error I was even able to install this CMS and are able to maintain it myself. And I guess this approach of autonomy is rather important to me. Probably even more important than having a streamlined but complicated workflow of getting my plain .md text files out into the world.
I mentioned a few tools here, that I’ve been stumbling upon while browsing the internet. Obviously there are way more resources out there, that I haven’t tried or mentioned. Let me know if I’m missing something here. I’m still curious to find some straightforward solutions for this seemingly rather simple but obviously very hard problem.