12/09/2011

Markdown + Dropbox = Dead Simple Blogging With Calepin

Blogs are supposed to be about writing. Real, authentic, personal, heartfelt writing. The very word blog comes from the words web and log, a log of your thoughts on the web. But by and large, blogs have gotten complicated. 15 million widgets, word clouds, flashing ads, and more drive most people to just use social networks and forget the mess and confusion of blogging.

If installing WordPress on your hosting account or tweaking a Tumblr account to your liking sounds like more trouble than it’s worth just to publish your thoughts on the web, then get ready for a breath of fresh air. How about just saving plain text files with Markdown formatting to a folder in Dropbox, and having them published directly online? That’s what Calepin offers.

Plain Text Publishing, Powered by Dropbox
If you think about it, there’s one type of file you can almost guarantee will always be readable on almost any computing platform imaginable: plain text files. Plain text with various markup thrown in is the basis behind HTML, CSS, picture metadata, the XML settings files used in so many apps, and more. We’ve grown used to writing documents in Word, saving notes in propritary apps, and blogging with complex CMS systems, though, that plain text files on their own don’t seem so important.

Throw in a syncing service, though, and plain text can be very useful. That’s the idea behind Simplenote and dozens of other mobile notes and writing apps. For the most part, just text is enough to save any idea you need, and with some markup formatting, you can make full essays, blog posts, and more without anything more than a text editor.



Calepin takes this idea to the extreme, turning plain text files with Markdown formatting in a Dropbox synced folder into a no-hassle blog. It’s easy enough, anyone can do it. It’s a refreshing change from more complex blogging systems that seem more bent on adding widgets and social networking features rather than making the very best environment for writing.

If you’ve been looking for a dead-simple way to blog without worrying about settings or themes or anything else, this may be the perfect solution for you. It’s a great option for Markdown geeks, but it’s an equally great option for any user, really. It doesn’t require a geeky setup: just a Dropbox account, 2 minute setup, and Markdown (or honestly, plain text) files. That’s it.

Going forward, I’d love to see support for custom domains, and perhaps a self-hosted version that would be almost just as simple to setup on your own servers. Beyond that, though, I rather like the lack of options. It forces you to focus on writing, and with a blog, that’s what’s most important.


Publishing for writers who love Markdown and Dropbox

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