Tag Archives: Workflow

What I’m reading 11 Jun 2015 through 18 Jun 2015

on pinboard for September 22nd, 2014 through October 4th, 2014

bookmarks for July 9th, 2013 through July 14th, 2013

bookmarks for March 12th, 2013

  • Writing Tools and Workflow — Hack / Make – another notetaking / DH workflow article for today. More and more, academic writers and writers in general are switching between digital and analogue apparati. Hack/Make's workflow is like a day in the life of a knowledge worker. at hack make.org – (DH workflow academia2.0 )
  • Arno’s Tech Tools – I don't typically post workflow articles here but this one is so complete and intertwine led for DHers that it has to live here. the kind of stuff digital academics need to know. a little anarachish, but aren't we all anarachish at heart? – (DH workflow DevonThink annotation notetaking notebook )

blogging workflow rusty at best

Image by Patrick Ng

Getting back into the habit of regularly posting to this weblog and The Daybook means re-developing a workflow that I have let sit to rust. A workflow I’m think of here is the the pattern of steps (which are recursive) I take as I work through preparing a post and publishing. The idea is that the output of one step is the input for the next, but the focus on input-output sidesteps the processing that goes on during the step, which is the interesting part. I’m stepping back to consider my workflow with the hope that the reflection can help me discover process hangups and better options.

On a laptop

I try to start posts in MarsEdit. If pressed, I’ll use WP’s dashboard, but I’ve gotten used to working in external editors over the years. Drag and drop links. Direct access to flickr, and drag and drop images. View and navigate in a browser while composing in a text editor.

And here’s where my first shot of WD40 is needed: I became rusty using MarsEdit.

But I find using two apps – a browser for searching and reading, and a dedicated editor for drafting – makes the work of aggregating and annotating easier, less clumsy, even when I’m rusty. And that’s generally what I’m doing early in my workflow: pulling stuff together and annotating it. Read, draft, check a link, maybe add the link, repeat. Stop to search a side idea. Consider incorporating an image. I use the lower half of the text editor in MarsEdit as a workspace and scrap area, dragging links, snippets of text, images to the space while I draft in the upper third or so.

And those snippets come from everywhere. The wild web, of course, but also from my Pinboard collection, from the course wikis I maintain; and there’s stuff I’ve tucked away on my Reading List in Safari and in Pocket, plain text notes stored in Simplenote, (recently acquired by Automattic, WordPress’s parent company), and images on flickr; I keep more developed drafts, links, references, and pieces of text in DevonThink on a local machine. If you’re following the bouncing ball, you’ll see that most of these notes are in the cloud – with reason: I can get at them from other computers.

Once posted, I might have to return to the WP dashboard to tweak an image alignment or padding, but that can wait until I have some time to spare.

On a tablet

I use and iPad for reading RSS feeds, reading and responding to email, even updating or editing a wiki page or two. But I haven’t found a graceful way of posting to blogs from the tablet. The constraint is the tapping and switching necessary to moving between sources and draft. Only one window is visible at a time on an iPad, so it’s read, copy, switch app, paste, edit, switch back to check that I have the context right, or to copy the link, or … and I’ve lost track and have to start again.

I’ve tried a couple of apps that include a built-in browser (Blogsy, Writing Kit), but they really don’t address the constraint: Seeing both the source and my draft text on the screen at the same time eases the cognitive burden of composing for me. Might be age, might be the kind of composing I typically do (responding to and incorporating written sources), might be habit of using multiple screens: Even before screens became ubiquitous, I would have a book open next to where I was writing, so I could refer back to the source as I moved forward with the draft. It’s not the app. It’s the screen layout. It’s an issue of modality.

So I don’t bother with apps that use built in browsers. Since I have to switch screens, I’ve found it sounder to switch between a fully-loaded browser (all my bookmarks, bookmarklets, and reading list are at hand) and a dedicated text editor or blogging editor. But I haven’t developed a workflow for mobile blogging yet. I’m still floundering. I’ve been using the WordPress app recently, but I’ve been tempted towards Poster by recent reviews. (Being easily distracted from one tool to the next is a signal I’m still trying to develop a workflow. Blaming the tools.) Some bloggers use a markdown editor for drafts, then move the text into a blogging app for formatting and uploading – mainly to overcome the design constraints of the blogging apps.

The one move that I’m working out is how to get started on a post. Typically, I start with a source – an article I read, a video I see, an email request, or a moment from a class – that drives the need for a response. Getting that first move from its source – browser or email, generally – into the blog editor, with a link, sets the stage for drafting further. If it’s too awkward and convoluted, I may not even bother but email a link to deal with it later on a laptop or desktop. And, right now, it’s pretty convoluted: copy, switch, start a new blog post, paste, switch back, copy the link, switch, paste the link. Then start …

What did I come in here for?


can you get more minimal?

Alt textYes, probably, but this template and its surrounding files – svbtle by ricardorauch – is as minimal on the admin and posting side as it is on the viewing side.

it’s all markdown back here.

That makes text fast and easy to work with. In svtle itself, the editor is not visible: no visible text field, no scroll bars, just type in the white space. And that’s not disconcerting. Because it’s all markdown, I should be able to compose in a plain text editor or markdown editor, and then copy and paste without conversion. The entry page allows previewing – almost unnecessary. Idea is a draft. Public is what it says.


The limitations are minor. Can place images inline but can’t set alignment or set image size. Can’t set or view tags, categories, or manage the post with respect to other posts. Just edit and format.


Svbtle is a text editor at root. Go to the wp-svtle page, enter the text, save, preview, whatever. Even publish it to get it out there. Then, now or later, go to the standard wp-admin page to refine image formatting, add categories, tags, manage. The only trick involves saving in svtle before moving to the standard editor so that the markdown conversion is preserved.

and so

While markdown text entry is a charm, I’m used to having some post management tools close to hand – to add a tag and category as I write, to get a sense of how an image will work with a text. If I really want pure markdown, it’s easy enough to use an off-line markdown editor. And the svtle template sacrifices navigation and sidebar information, which is what I use a weblog for.

Still, it’s good to have an option for. say, a special project.

bookmarks for December 28th, 2010 through December 29th, 2010

bookmarks for November 3rd, 2009

some notes on using the iPhone as a notes reader that ends in paper inertia

What I’d like to do

Make docs and some images available from a desktop and laptop to iPhone for reference and for use in classes. These are mainly rtf notes, but I’d also like to access to pdfs for articles.

I keep my course and research notes in DevonThink. They get into DT in a number of different ways, but I work on them mainly in DT.

Ways to go about it

  • Use an online notetaker like Evernote. Problem: Files aren’t available without network.
  • Use a wiki. Problem: Can be hard to read in a browser, doesn’t handle pdf, and see above.
  • Well, use a wiki and Instapaper. Store the notes on a wiki, then then read it on the phone with Instapaper. Problem: Need to remember to hit the page with Instapaper twice: Once to store the page, and a second time before class to store it on the phone, in case the network goes down.
  • Use a utility to transfer files from desktop to iPhone. Problem: Sometimes the file is on my desktop, sometimes on a laptop. Issue: I’d rather not run Yet Another Client on the desktop to make files available. Using a browser is only slightly less clunky.
  • Print everything out.

I’ve eliminated a few utilities that I’ve tried (DataCase, Air Sharing, NoteBooks), which seems to leave me with two options.

OneDisk. Accesses iDisk files and folders. Needs MobileMe. Clear interface, landscape view. Can email files from the app. No luck reading a Numbers page, but it’s supposed to. The pdf reader is as good as any. Can set bookmarks and create folders.

Briefcase. VPN, I think. Uploads and downloads from phone to computer via Bonjour. No desktop utility needed. Can access any folder on the computer. Interface similar to that of OneDisk. Landscape view. Reads the usual suspects.

In both cases, getting files onto the phone requires some planning – nothing major, but planning akin to – and no less hassle than – printing out the notes. Planning means forgetting.

Using OneDisk, files have to be uploaded to iDisk from the computer, and then downloaded to the phone. Upload times can be a longish for larger documents. Upload now; download later.

With Briefcase, files have to be loaded directly to the phone using the phone near the desktop. Transfer now. Read later.

From a step back, the whole idea of moving notes to the phone for reference in class seems about the same as printing stuff out.

Even worse. The problem isn’t just in transferring stuff but reading it. Unless they are formatted with screen reading in mind, notes are difficult to read on a mobile device. Pdfs are just too difficult to read on a small screen. Pdf is for paper. My best luck so far has been with some rtfs – using 14 pt Helvetica, which is what I use when I print out the notes.

What I need – when going from desktop to phone top – is an app that will reformat .doc and .rtf files for reading on the phone.

And that might lead back to Instapaper. It’s the formatting and the local storage that help.

Then there’s the consideration of going the other way: from the phone to the desktop.

Makes me want to just make a paper notebook (video) -but my handwriting is unreadable and, well … Paper, that just defeats the whole purpose, doesn’t it.

Any other ideas?

Other links