My dream writing platform is not Dustin Curtis’ new application called Svbtle. It’s a great looking application. I am jealous he was able to get it out the door. But as far as I can tell it’s not the one I’ve been looking for, so I figure it’s time I write this.

Screen Shot 2012 03 22 at 5 36 29 PM

I have been thinking about writing platforms and talking to people (some of which worked on the platform you’re reading this on) and even keeping notes in nvAlt whenever a new idea pops into my head.

The more I think about it, though, the more I think I will never have it unless I make it. And that is:

  1. an impossibility because I have a company now with employees and clients and no time to waste on side-projects.
  2. a really dumb idea that has always been a dumb idea (FOR EVERY DEVELOPER WHO HAS HAD IT) right up until the point at which you publish something with it and people read it.

Previously my solution was to skip over points 1. and 2. and jump to point 3: write a front-end that publishes (using the Atom/MetaWeblog/Blogger/MovableType APIs) with an abstracted connector. That is, you push a publish button and my web app figures out how to publish on your service of choice. Your site continues to serve but the underlying application (Typepad/Wordpress/Blogger) is hidden behind a sort of driver that does not know what system it is publishing to, just that it has content to save and update.

This is fine in theory, but turns out to be the sort of pain in the ass you are wanting to avoid by bundling all the worst things about writing a blogging engine into one code base. You spend a lot of time reliving the stupid arguments of 2003 while learning how to publish to the MetaWeblogAPI. You then get to revisit the creation of an entire blog publishing standard from 2004 (that materialized out of an entirely separate argument people had with the self-proclaimed godfather of RSS for reasons related to his self-proclaimationizing ways) when learning how to use the Atom API.

These standards are the wrong path. They solve jumping straight to option 3 but basically uphold the sometimes head-scratching standards people conformed to when there were very good reasons to conform to them. They’re outdated. They are holding blogging back. I can’t use nearly 10 year-old standards.

That brings us to my pain points with every tool out there. My idea of an ideal tool is just that. It has all the little quirks and features only I want and I don’t think I will ever get everything I want without taking a year off and drinking a lot.

Now, I know Typepad and Say: have a hell of a lot more things going on at their company than spending time adding new features to Typepad. I am a minor speck in their publisher galaxy and that’s fine. I think the application is still the best place for me to write since I use MarsEdit and rarely have to use the web interface.

But since Typepad doesn’t let me save drafts to the server (like Tumblr) so I can share them with friends (and since we’re spitballing: have my friends make edits in place), blogging is a very solitary sort of activity. The best posts (I think) I’ve made have been because Anil or Mat looked them over.

I need a new tool. I have reasons I don’t use Tumblr regularly (it is clearly the best publishing platform for blogging) and perhaps I should give it another look, but I think if I sat down with my nvAlt and described what I want it would not look anything like Tumblr. It wouldn’t look like anything that exists.

I hate that.