Draft - A New Blog Editor to Try

I am paranoid about saving changes to a work-in-progress. Ctrl-S is an involuntary muscle movement that I might sometimes do several times while typing a single sentence. I view it as a reflection of my low tolerance for having to redo work, or to try remember the details on still-forming thoughts that I am in the process of documenting. It has only happened a few times, but losing work can teach you to do things like this.

I was recently putting together a post on blogger.com about a local dam, and had reached a point where all I needed to do was make a few more passes through it, and then I could do the first publish of it. I say "first publish" because I always find an embarrassing typo or something right after the first time I publish a note. I think that the act of publishing awakens some kind of different editor in my head that can catch these things.

I have always liked blogger - free, fairly easy to use. And it will auto-save your work every few seconds or so, which is nice. But I hit a surprising limitation of blogger in this case that caused me to have to redo the entire article.

I decided that I wanted to embed a slick google map that the reader could use while reading the post, so I got the embed html and pasted it into the raw html window of the post. I then took a look in wysiwig mode, didn't like what I saw, and decided to scrap the map stuff for the moment. I just hit the backspace key right after the map, and the map disappeared.

And so did the entire post.

And autosave kicked in and did its thing.

It took me a few minutes to figure out what had happened, and that there was no way to get it back. I even searched the safari cache that's stored in an sqlite database - querying the tables, exporting blobs, finding nothing.

The greatest post ever and now it was gone.

The problem here was that blogger does not save versions of a post.  I had some notes for the post and retyped and reconstructed it all. Lesson learned.

As a result of this and a few other things, I have been on the lookout for alternatives to blogger.
One alternative is to use draft by Nathan Kontny, who has already founded two YC companies. I had signed up for draft a while ago, but forgot about it. I always had to go look up who he was when I was getting little promo notes from him.

draft is a slick little thing for a lot of reasons, but one thing I just learned today is that it supports versions. And best of all, a version is created every time you hit Ctrl-S. I did it again just now while writing this.

A summary of the full feature set is here. It has some serious collaboration aspirations - they are probably the main purpose of the app - but here are some of the more trivial things I really like in the small amount of time I have used it:
  • you can publish straight to blogger and a number of other platforms (although it uses the default font of the blog)
  • I really like the default font when writing (source-code-pro)
  • it's got a little word count in the bottom right - this is important to me at the moment, as sometimes I want to make sure to hit certain lengths
Nate Kontney has already founded two YC companies. draft is currently free, but he has an inexpensive subscription mode that I think will probably make him a lot of money because of the pain that draftremoves and the pleasure it creates for just writing. I can sense a fundamental foundation of design with draft that just feels good. I would urge you to give it a try.

I recently learned of the concept of the Gulf of Execution - the gap that can exist between a goal you may have and the means to execute that goal. While subtle,  draft does a good job at helping you cross that gulf when your goal is writing.

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