I love writing in Markdown. In fact, anything I post here always starts off as a Markdown document (usually just in a plain text editor).
As long as I can remember, I have always used a database driven CMS to run my weblog. When I first started out, I played with Tumblr, Posterous, Blogger, WordPress, Typepad — you name it. I haven’t always used Markdown for writing, but for the last few years I have been, and I could never go back. I can easily take any Markdown formatted document and post it to my site in seconds, and it renders beautifully into clean HTML syntax.
Dropbox has also become something I’ve grown dependent upon. I store all of my Markdown documents in Dropbox, which is synced so I can access it anywhere, on any device.
So this is where Calepin comes in thank you @hotdogsladies. Calepin is something I discovered recently, which is built off of Pelican, a static weblog generator built in Python (it’s open sourced and available on Github too). The cool thing about Calepin is that it’s already configured and ready to go. You authorize Calepin with your Dropbox account, and you are ready start posting stuff to your site. It’s a really neat idea, in that you get to own and keep all of your posts in Markdown documents on your own computer. Your data is not locked up and beholden to someone else’s database.
There are quite a lot of drawbacks though, and as much as I would love to switch to Calepin full-time, I simply can’t at the moment. I’ll preface this and say Calepin is a new, and free service. I’ve been in contact with the developer, and he plans to roll out new features very soon for it. In fact, I’m very confident the features I want will get added soon, because if you read Pelican’s documentation, it supports all of the things one would need for a weblog —tagging, categories, pagination — to name a few.
Currently Calepin lacks some basics that will not satiate the needs of most serious writers who publish a site on a regular basis, and those are as follows:
- Theme/CSS support
- CNAMEs (this means you’re stuck with a username.calepin.co URL)
- Blog import (if you already have a published site using another CMS, and your posts live in a database, you won’t be able to import anything).
- The service runs off Amazon’s ultra-reliable EC2
- You own your content in pain text Markdown formatted files
- You can use any text editor you want, and simply save those files with the .md Markdown extension, and then save them in your ~user/Dropbox/Apps/Calepin directory.
- Publishing can take seconds, and your entire site is regenerated very quickly
- At the moment, Calepin is free, and presumably the only thing you might pay for is a Dropbox account (if their 2GB plan isn’t enough for you that is).
Obviously this isn’t quite yet ready for primetime, but I’ll be monitoring Calepin closely and will post a follow up when I believe it’s at the point where I think it will be more usable for me. Who knows, it may just reach the point where I will be able to move everything over to a fully statically generated site.\