The scrapbook of Boris Marinov

Why and how you should write everything you write in plaintext files and self-publish them on your own website

It is a well-known engineering principle that you should always use the weakest technology, capable of solving your problem. The weakest technology is likely the cheapest, easiest to maintain extend or replace, there are no sane arguments for using anything else.

The main problem with this principle is that there “ain’t no money in it.” Why would a person who wants to make money sell someone a 10$ product that will solve their problem for ever, when they can sell them a 1000$ product with 10$ per month maintenance cost, that will become obsolete after 10 years?

In software, this problem is particularily bad, because there simplest technologies are often free and, since nobody would benefiting from convincing you to use something that don’t cost anything, nobody is actively selling those. In this post, I will try to fill that gap by reviewing some technologies for web publishing that are based on plain text and putting forward their benefits.

The problem of text is one of those problems where the simplest of all solutions works - plain txt files do the job. I’ve yet to see a use-case where considering any other technology is worth it.

And similar is the case with simple static HTML websites a simple personal page makes all publishing platforms are useless.

Anything you write that you want to last should be on plain text files and hosted on a website you own.

Text files

But wait, doesn’t working in plain text require you to learn some complex markup languages where you have to learn some cryptic commands just to bold your text? Well, not entirely. For example there is Markdown, which is pretty simple. Here is how it looks:

Here is a heading
=== 

Here is a paragraph.

Here is another one.

You can also put *emphasis* on words.

And insert [links](https://boris-marinov.github.io).

You would realize that the paragraph above contains everything you need to know for most texts. Other styling (tables, quotes, etc.) are equally easy to do and once you learn the basics you would find that writing markdown is faster than applying styling by using the mouse.

If you don’t like markdown, there are many other markup format that you can use. And there is this tool called Pandoc that allows you to convert any of them to any other.

While can write a blogpost, or even a whole book in notepad, but there is no reason to do so - there are thousands of quality text editors that will do a better job. There is no wrong answer as to which to use. And because you are using an open markup format, you can try them all. You can even get an editor that supports markdown or the markup format that you use (although for markdown I find this to be an overkill.)

Your own website

Once you There are programs called static website generators that do just that.