About me: My name is Solène Rapenne, pronouns she/her. I like learning and sharing knowledge. Hobbies: '(BSD OpenBSD Qubes OS Lisp cmdline gaming security QubesOS internet-stuff). I love percent and lambda characters. OpenBSD developer solene@. No AI is involved in this blog.

Contact me: solene at dataswamp dot org or @solene@bsd.network (mastodon).

I'm a freelance OpenBSD, FreeBSD, Linux and Qubes OS consultant, this includes DevOps, DevSecOps, technical writing or documentation work.

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My blog workflow

Written by Solène, on 03 January 2021.
Tags: #life #blog

Comments on Fediverse/Mastodon

I often have questions about how I write my articles, which format I use and how I publish on various medias. This article is the opportunity to highlight all the process.

So, I use my own static generator cl-yag which supports generating indexes for whole article lists but also for every tags in html, gophermap format and gemini gemtext. After the generation of indexes, for html every article will be converted into html by running a "converter" command. For gopher and gemini the original text is picked up, some metadata are added at the top of the file and that's all.

Publishing for all the three formats is complicated and sacrifices must be made if I want to avoid extra work (like writing a version for each). For gopher, I chose to distribute them as simple text file but it can be markdown, org-mode, mandoc or other formats, you can't know. For gemini, it will distribute gemtext format and for http it will be html.

Recently, I decided to switch to gemtext format instead of markdown as the main format for writing new texts, it has a bit less features than markdown, but markdown has some many implementations than the result can differ greatly from one renderer to another.

When I run the generator, all the indexes are regenerated, and destination file modification time are compared to the original file modification time, if the destination file (the gopher/html/gemini file that is published) is newer than the original file, no need to rewrite it, this saves a lot of time. After generation, the Makefile running the program will then run rsync to various servers to publish the new directories. One server has gopher and html, another server only gemini and another server has only gopher as a backup.

I added a Mastodon announcement calling a local script to publish links to new publications on Mastodon, this wasn't merged into cl-yag git repository because it's too custom code depending on local programs. I think a blog generator is as personal as the blog itself, I decided to publish its code at first but I am not sure it makes much sense because nobody may have the same mindset as mine to appropriate this tool, but at least it's available if someone wants to use it.

My blog software can support mixing input format so I am not tied to a specific format for all its life.

Here are the various commands used to convert a file from its original format to html. One can see that converting from org-mode to html in command line isn't an easy task. As my blog software is written in Common LISP, the configuration file is also a valid common lisp file, so I can write some code in it if required.

(converter :name :gemini    :extension ".gmi" :command "gmi2html/gmi2html data/%IN | tee %OUT")
(converter :name :markdown  :extension ".md"  :command "peg-markdown -t html -o %OUT data/%IN")
(converter :name :markdown2 :extension ".md"  :command "multimarkdown -t html -o %OUT data/%IN")
(converter :name :mmd       :extension ".mmd" :command "cat data/%IN | awk -f mmd | tee %OUT")
(converter :name :mandoc    :extension ".man"
           :command "cat data/%IN  | mandoc -T markdown | sed -e '1,2d' -e '$d' | multimarkdown -t html -o %OUT")
(converter :name :org-mode  :extension ".org"
	   :command (concatenate 'string
				 "emacs data/%IN --batch --eval '(with-temp-buffer (org-mode) "
				 "(insert-file \"%IN\") (org-html-export-as-html nil nil nil t)"
				 "(princ (buffer-string)))' --kill | tee %OUT"))

When I define a new article to generate from a main file holding the metadata, I can specify the converter if it's not the default one configured.

;; using default converter
(post :title "Minimalistic markdown subset to html converter using awk"
      :id "minimal-markdown" :tag "unix awk" :date "20190826")

;; using mmd converter, a simple markdown to html converter written in awk
(post :title "Life with an offline laptop"
      :id "offline-laptop" :tag "openbsd life disconnected" :date "20190823" :converter :mmd)

Some statistics about the various format used in my blog.

  • markdown :: 183
  • gemini :: 12
  • mandoc :: 4
  • mmd :: 2
  • org-mode :: 1