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On Using Macros to Blog

Ben Hammersley notes here that he's trying to get some macros (Update: see first comment from Ben) working for his blog. Ignoring the fact that his blog is in UTF-8 and his page specifies "content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1," I must question the usefulness of macros when blogging.

This blog currently uses Brad Choate's MTMacros for two things: smileys and blockquotes. For blockquotes, the content isn't affected, really, and I simply use <bq> as an abbreviation of sorts. However, I think it's possible to go overboard. Judi uses macros for her <a href>s and she has to rebuild her items - with the macro installed properly - to get them to work (they weren't this morning).

I use MovableType, and I'm a big fan of separating markup from content, and for using macros when feasible, but I think it's important as well to keep the content of my blog as "movable" as possible (no pun intended). Judi, should she ever stop using Textile and all of its little macros, is faced with a potentially long list of changes she'll have to make by hand just to get her content back to the point at which it is again presentable on the Web.

For example, my smiley macro uses transforms :-) into :-). In the end, though, my content is still a smiley. What of these people using plugins and macros that transform {sleepy}? {grrrr} is not an emoticon, while >:-o is. Is >:-o on one side of the line and {grrr} on another? Is using a macro to change "naive" to "naïve" over that line?

In the end, I guess it all comes down to personal choice, but having just had to do a bit of work "massaging" old content into "new" content due to some reliance on scripts, and having witnessed Judi doing the same, I have to wonder if it's not just easier to type <a href="http://url.com/" title="URL">go here</a> than {"http://url.com/", title="URL", "go here"} or something.

4 Responses to "On Using Macros to Blog"

  1. I'm not using Macros, but you're right about the character encoding.

  2. Hey, man, I have to live up to my moniker. Read it and weep. 🙂

  3. Mmm. If you're going to use macros, program them in your OS using a macro program. Keep your entries transportable wherever possible. Not that I use macros myself, I use BBEdit. A click, a couple of tabs, a bit of typing (or pasting if you use PTHpasteboard), and URLs are fully linked with a title and target. Sure, I can't do it from a web cafe on the road, but I post to my blog from home where BBEdit is always running (along with Eudora and, yes, NetNewsWire, as per your Tyranny post).

  4. Oh. No wonder Swedish characters get munched up in my comments on his site.


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