Workflow

I have to admit I am still not quite happy with my typical workflow when I write my posts. The web-based text editor of WordPress (as it exists on the ETH blogs, at least) is not very convenient (or efficient), but on the other hand writing HTML in emacs, as I would like to do, doesn’t work so well because it is does not seem possible to preview the inline LaTeX formulas from emacs.

So I’ve looked for alternatives. And I was surprised to see that on Linux, it is not so easy to find a solution. There are a number of blog editors, which would be more or less satisfactory (including, of course, an emacs package…), except that most seem to take the point of view that one should type a blog post entirely, then publish it, and then make only minor corrections (if any). But I usually try to save locally what I type after each line (almost), and I consider it important to be able to such local copies for backup and reference purpose.

After trying a few programs, the only one I found to work reasonably (and that I use now) is the fairly obscure QTM. The text editor is not the best in the world (it has a search feature, but no replace), but one can save the posts to text files (which contain some very easily understandable and removable metadata), and publish them separately later on. One fairly obvious feature of the editor (which is unaccountably missing from the WordPress editor) is the possibility to insert a link — for which the target has been previously selected in a web browser — by a simple command (CTRL+U), after highlighting the words that should refer to the link. (On WordPress, the highlighting has the effect or replacing the link address in the clipboard with the linking words; this is standard X11 behavior, of course, but here this turns out to be a drawback).

Of course, the program itself does not preview the LaTeX formulas, but this can be done decently enough by sending the post as draft to the ETH blog. A bit more annoying is the fact that I don’t see how to insert pictures in the WordPress account from QTM itself, and then refer to them directly from its editor. So sometimes I write posts without pictures and add them in from WordPress later.

There’s also an apparent bug where sometimes the publishing date sent to WordPress gets wrong, and I have to manually change that. I haven’t tried to investigate deeply if I can locate it and correct in the source code.

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Kowalski

I am a professor of mathematics at ETH Zürich since 2008.

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