Thinking about Planner/EmacsWiki versus WordPress

Was it really only less than two years ago that I shifted from my venerable Planner-based wiki/blog to my WordPress-powered one after experimenting with syndicating my entries into WordPress?

I miss writing in wiki markup on Emacs and knowing that publishing would Just Work. I miss being able to dynamically expand entries from my address book in a way that automatically links to people’s blogs. (Or Twitter accounts, if I were going to do this now.) ScribeFire is a pain on my Eee (needs more horizontal screen space), and I have a hard time marking up the occasional bit of HTML in weblogger.el. Windows Live Writer is pretty slick (particularly with the SnagIt Screen Capture plugin and the Amazon Book Linker), but I can live without it. Or maybe I can resurrect that WordPress Emacs client Ashish mentioned.

Let me think about the differences in experiences.

  • I wanted to support comments, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of time hacking on some custom commenting system. This was a big issue for me. I found some commenting scripts, but dealing with spam was a pain, so I switched to WordPress. If I switched back to Emacs for my blog, I’d probably use something like Disqus to handle the conversation, and just find some way of backing up the comments regularly.
  • I wanted to make it easy to navigate posts. I modified Planner to generate a more browsable blog index, but it’s still not as slick as what you’d see with WordPress. On this WordPress blog, I like offering people random blog posts (good for me too – great way to rediscover old posts and make serendipitous connections!), related posts, and posts on the same day. I can do posts on the same day in Planner with a custom hook, but the others would require some hacking. Also, Planner is very much day-based, while WordPress lists N posts per page and has good category lists.
  • I wanted to make it easy to edit posts. In my Emacs-based system, I published to RSS when I saved a note in the Remember window. I had a hack that made it possible to propagate changes from an already-published post to my WordPress blog, but it wasn’t completely reliable.
  • Scheduling posts is handy, too. I hadn’t gotten around to figuring out how to build a post scheduler for Emacs. I suppose if I wasn’t picky about the time it went out, I could simply write posts on different days and then publish notes conditionally, plus have some kind of hook to notice if any of the current page’s posts should be published in the RSS feed, plus some way to handle previous days, plus maybe a server-friendly way to do this for the times when I’m not going to be online every day. Right.

That said, I miss automatically sharing some details of what I’m working on (with details deleted before publishing so that they’re available offline), publicly crossing off tasks, and other cool things.

Planner’s model for task planning isn’t quite compatible with Org’s model, and I’ve been using Org + Toodledo more these days.

What am I really looking for here?

  • A quick, reliable way to post from a text editor, so that I can do it from the Eee. Hmm, the WP Postie plugin will probably do the trick.
  • Easy way to share/review tasks: Toodledo export of week’s tasks?
  • And maybe a custom plugin for weekly displays, org agendas, that sort of thing.


  • Look to the Comments Widget from JS-Kit company – it’s very easy to use, and it doesn’t require server installation. I use it for my personal home page, to collect comments about articles, and very happy with it

  • Sigurd Meldgaard

    You can also use it’s all text for editing any text-field from firefox in an editor of your choice (emacsclient of course).

  • Indeed! I’d forgotten about that. What I should probably do is use longlines mode and either that extension or just kill-and-yank… =)

  • On your to-do lists, are you serious enough to actually be managing tasks on the web?

    I looked at WordPress plugins, and didn’t find anything obvious. A quick search turned up Taskfreak as an option … and I see there’s been some discussion on feeds that you could probably manipulate into WordPress.

    I’m not a GTD person, nor do I like to-do lists, so I won’t be trying this one out!

  • I’ve been using Toodledo quite happily for GTD-like task management. I don’t have to have everything on the same system, and it shouldn’t be too hard figure out how to slurp (and sanitize) tasks from Toodledo into WordPress if I can work out how that looks, navigation-wise.

  • I’m glad you like Amazon Book Linker. It was a pleasure working on it and even a greater thrill to know it’s being useful to you.

    Cheers! :)

  • Here are my 2 cents (I’m sure there are better solutions). I use Drupal and a Textile plugin. Here’s my workflow for my blog: write up something in emacs. (The textile plugin allows me to write in simple text markup, so I get all the power of emacs. Note that there are textile-modes for emacs but I don’t bother to use them.) When I’m done, I go to the admin control panel, create a new post, and paste the text.

    The disadvantage is that this technique doesn’t handle images like Live writer. (You also try w.blogger for that as well.)

    For WordPress, I’m sure there are plugins for Textile and Markdown. (However, the Textile plugin from 3 years ago was retarded — it would send a 1/2 meg file to users each time they viewed a post. I don’t know if that behavior has been fixed in the latest version.)

    There are also probably better alternatives out there too — that involve emacs. But for my simple site, it works … as they say \good enough.\

  • Oh right, now that I think of it, there *is* a better way — I just haven’t gotten around to using it — org-mode for emacs. It exports to html (so you don’t have to use Textile or Markdown plugins) and the main advantage is that it has this really neat table editor. You can create and work with tables just like you do in a word processor!

    Now if only there was a way to write in emacs and then automagically post to Drupal or WordPress…

  • I’m sure you can rig something together with weblogger.el. Drupal supports blog publishing APIs through the Blog module, I think. =)

    And yes, I’m a big fan of Org, and I use it to export HTML occasionally.