Git endpoint for content in WordPress

A horrid, crazy idea: a Git endpoint for the content in my WordPress install.

One step back to the problem I’m trying to solve. More and more, I enjoy writing in Markdown with iA Writer. “Publishing” whatever document I’ve written generally involves hitting the Preview button in iA Writer, and then copy and pasting text into WordPress. Yes, the same workflow I’ve been preaching against for years.

I wish I could have a Git checkout of content in WordPress, make edits locally using my editor of choosing, commit, and push back to master. I’m aware of Jeykll and the other hipster “content management systems”, however I’m still an old-school content in a database kind of guy.

Important news from the land of content management systems, publishing, and journalism

It shouldn’t be, but I’ve been meaning to write about this for a week: the Bangor Daily News finally switched their entire publishing workflow operation to Google Docs and WordPress. According to his boss, here’s why:

As we lost staff to cutbacks over the years, assembling our content into finished products was taking a larger and larger percentage of our time. Simply processing press releases seemed to suck up significant portions of editors’ days. No one wanted to be in this situation, but our infrastructure for moving content demanded it. We were trapped.

[…]

As the newsroom has grown comfortable with Docs, it is becoming more efficient (links and headlines, for instance, travel from Docs to WordPress) and we are shifting staff members from production to content creation. We knew we had a winner in Docs when we had a major election story with two reporters in the field and an editor in the newsroom, all working simultaneously on the same breaking story, adding content, seeing in real time what each was adding, talking to each other through the chat function and responding with updated information. Fast, simple, low cost.

Lauren Rabaino interviewed Will for MediaBistro to get the full details on how it actually works:

  1. Reporters and editors compose all stories in Google Docs. Using labels and native commenting, the stories get sent through the editing process.
  2. When a story is ready to publish, it gets sent from Google Docs to WordPress with one click.
  3. In WordPress, editors can publish the story to the web, then set up a print headline and print subhead.
  4. The story then appears in InDesign, where print designers can lay out the print newspaper.

Matt Thompson, in a piece for Poynter about why content management systems matter to journalists, gets the last word:

We’re beginning to understand that a CMS — every CMS, open-source, enterprise, or otherwise — requires continual investment and development. No matter how small or large your organization is, your content management system has to develop to accommodate a digital news environment that changes dramatically from year to year.

[…]

Because it makes no sense to spend a month of training on a system that’s going to change in a year, we have to use content management interfaces that are beautiful enough for users to grasp intuitively.

And because we need to develop fast, we have to borrow tools and ideas from the world of open-source software to make our content management ecosystems better.

Finally we’re getting somewhere. Good investments pay dividends.

Edit Flow v0.5.1

Late Wednesday night, well technically the first thing on my birthday Thursday, we tagged Edit Flow v0.5.1. It’s a maintenance release fwithor things like backwards compatibility with WordPress 2.9.x, no email notifications for posts with status “auto-draft”, and having the editorial calendar follow normal WordPress user capabilities for editing posts (fixing this). It also means we’re going to start work on v0.6: support for custom post types, a more powerful editorial calendar, and custom post tasks a bit like Basecamp.

Edit Flow v0.5, now with a slick editorial calendar

After a bit of a hiatus, we finally tagged the 0.5 release of Edit Flow this past weekend. The most significant new feature is a slick editorial calendar designed by Andrew Spittle, implemented by Joe Boydston, and nitpicked by me. Functionally, it allows you to view all content, regardless of status, in a week view, and then filter that content by custom status or whether it’s “related” to you. In the near future, we’ll be adding the ability to filter by categories, tags, and then additional editorial metadata. Download the most recent version and hit us back with any bugs, feedback, or ideas.

Even more exciting is that, with the new gig I started yesterday, I’ll be able to eat my own dog food and have a laboratory to play in to boot.

Covering Science and Technology: So you want to be a tech writer?

David Wolman and Marshall Kirkpatrick (@marshallk) led the conversation for the last panel this afternoon.

Informational interviews are a key part of finding stories, David says. He consumes a lot of coffee, talks with people about what they’re working on, and then also asks about what else they’re working on. That secondary information can lead to interesting pieces down the road.

Marshall has a detailed workflow for tracking down stories in the tech sector. He’s been working for ReadWriteWeb for the last year and a half, and is responsible for two to three posts a day. Most of the time, stories are “interrupt-driven” or dependent on the news of the day. The whole staff logs into a single Fever account to share RSS reading responsibilities.

One source of feeds is pretty ingenious. A research assistant dug up people who first linked popular web services such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. on Delicious. He did so for a number of startups over the last couple of years and put all of that information on a spreadsheet. Based on this aggregate information, he was able to identify 15 or so people who regularly link upcoming web services before anyone else. Subscribing to these Delicious accounts has multiple stories a week about hot new startups.

Most of the ReadWriteWeb writers use Tweetdeck for Twitter. Marshall has the 4,000+ people he’s following organized into different categories, including NY Times, analysts, augmented reality, etc. The team has a Skype chat they keep open 24 hours for coordinating on stories. They use hashtags within the conversation to enable people to find information of a specific type (i.e. which stories need editing with #edit).

For tracking reactions to pieces he’s written, Marshall searches for conversations based on a specific URL with Friendfeed, based on the ReadWriteWeb domain in Digg, and recently favorited tweets.

Libby Tucker notes that the differences between David and Marshall’s reporting styles. David flies to Urbana, Illinois to interview a scientist, whereas Marshall notes that if he has to put his pants on, it’s a big day.