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Two Approaches to Publishing Offline

by Kerry Dawson

When you publish a document to the web you can think of the publishing in two form types:

  • online publishing
  • offline publishing

For the purposes of this article, we’re going to discuss primarily offline publishing and its merits and why this is considered valuable. First though, to set the groundwork, I’ll discuss online publishing and what it entails.

Online Publishing

Online publishing is simply the art of writing your document directly on your publishing system. In WordPress, as an example, you would log into your WordPress portal for your site you want to publish to and there you would be met with basically a two part screen:

  • the first part being your writing area
  • the second part being your viewing area of what your document will look like

So far, so good but in the art of writing these days the major buzz is distraction free writing which this definitely is not.

Even though this is far from Distraction Free Writing it also looks complex. It isn’t, once you get onto it but there’s a much better way.

Distraction Free Writing

All the really good text editors today for web publishing are what would be referred to a distraction free environments. They generally provide you with just a simple sheet of plain writing space and if you hide everything on your screen except your writing space it focus’ you on your writing. It can even get more granular than this but it seems a little much if you do.

Further, all the good tools support Markdown writing. This is a formatting method that is very simple to italicize, bold, embed an image or video and on it goes. The great thing about Markdown is it is very simple and supports distraction free writing.

Your Tool

There are a number of great distraction free editors and what suits one person might not suit another. In this class of writing tools there basically are two types:

  • Those that support offline publishing
  • those that require a tool one can publish with such as Marsedit

Byword, Desk, Marsedit: Publishers within

Should you be so inclined to one of the above tools, they include within them a publishing capability. It is not necessary to step over and cut and paste your work to the online tool. You can write and publish, finish to end, in the above tools. Which tool you use is a matter of personal taste or inclination. Desk would be the newest of the tools and supports everything including your tags and categories. However, all these tools do that. It is really the writing environment and what it supports that will lean you one way or another.

Offline, Distraction Free Writing Tools

That brings us to our last class of tools that might suit you primarily because of the way the tool works. Typed and Ulysses are two great writing tools.

Typed is a very nice, plain piece of, we’ll call it paper, which is totally distraction free but provides nice fonts, headings and spacing. It would probably be my preference for this kind of tool. Simple to use yet nice to read, it is an excellent tool. IAwriter would also fall into this category of tool.

Ulysses III Stands Apart

The one editor that stands apart from them all is Ulysses. It provides you with a wealth of formatting options, nicely laid out in a full distraction free environment. What makes this tool so nice and unique is that it doesn’t save every sheet or article you write to a document but creates a database structure for the documents to be stored in. This can be as granular as you so choose but it makes finding your original text a cinch.

The tool also has IOS support so what you write on your Mac you can continue on your iPad. Byword allows this but it is the database structure that will draw you to Ulysses.


Publishing can be done in one of two ways, the second of which I prefer. The first has been mentioned and that’s simply putting the document online.

The second way involves using one of the tools that includes publishing. For this, I prefer Marsedit due to the depth of function it delivers. You write your document in the editor you most prefer and if, like Ulysses, it doesn’t support online publishing you cut and paste the Markdown text to Marsedit, tag and classify the document (do this for good SEO optimization) and then publish the document. You might change some of the aspects of your document in Marsedit but the changes will likely be small but you will have written in an environment that suits you the best.

Writing, Style and You

At the end of the day, you bring your own personal style to your writing. It’s logical to think that not one editor would fit everyone. Moreover, your personal productivity and the quality of your writing is enhanced when you work with an editor that suits you. In this, I would not compromise, not if you plan on writing more than one article.

Choose What works for You

Do not worry about whether an editor, online vs offline publishing, or an editor with a built in publisher seems more practical. What do you enjoy writing with the most. Where do you store your articles most logically so you can get back to the original text if you need to. In this case, quality and quantity often go hand in hand because the more you enjoy what you’re writing with the higher the quality of your productivity is likely to be.

Lots of Fun; A Little Structure

To conclude, writing for the web has opened up a whole new avenue of writing. For a lot, who would never have written, they might now.

The true writer is considered somewhat of a creative creature, the more so as the writing gives way to that of telling a story. However, for all writers, there is structure that has to be brought to bear whether you’re writing technical material or a novel.

This part of this article though is meant for the structure that must be brought to bear when you store your article. For some, they store everything in one spot making it easier to find the original text. For others though, they might store their articles or the original text all over. Yet, you may need it again. Ulysses, to a point, takes care of this. However, the other editors do not.

At this point, it is wise to employ a document manager. Three that could do a good job are:

  • idocument Plus
  • Leap
  • Together

Personally I prefer iDocument Plus. It allows more manual control over the document I’m including and the text I’m using to describe it. The downside here though might be that not enough discipline is being brought to the table to ensure your storing documents consistently. The end result though is an important payoff when your need to find that document you wrote 6 months ago and I mean the original text. This shouldn’t dampen your fun when writing just ensure you can always get back to the document and even see what some of your original thinking was around the document creation.

To Conclude

In conclusion, as writing is a lot of work:

  • Decide whether you want to write
  • Where would you like to publish and what would you like to write about
  • Choose your editor carefully as this makes a large difference to the writing process
    • for web writing, do that in Markdown
      • if you don’t know it, learn it as this will reward you handsomely
  • Choose how you want to publish
  • manage your original text
  • have fun

This article, has been more than just the two approaches to offline publishing. However, everything in the article is written to support the use of offline publishing. It is simply more effective and fun at the end of the day. As I said, writing can be difficult so do everything you can to make it an enjoyable experience.

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