Vimpress

I love wordpress blogging software. Unfortunately, my computers really don’t share that love. There’s a problem with “classic” computers and Web 2.0, especially when the shiny happy interfaces continually crash as older systems grind to keep up. It’s not just wordpress, it’s also gmail and similar interfaces that are smart on newer systems. Some sites, including gmail, allow you to change from their most power-robbing interface to an older HTML version (which is what I get by default using elinks to do gmail, not to mention enabling IMAP and skipping gmail-by-browser altogether).

But wordpress is a little trickier to manage like that.

Last year sometime I came across vimpress, which is a vim plugin that allows wordpress blog management via vim. Since I love vim, it’s a natural fit for me. Unfortunately, I’ve continued to use Firefox to go to the burdensome web interface to do things even when sending text-only entries, wondering all the while why I’m not using something I already have on my computer that won’t bog it down.

It’s pretty easy to use, but let me give a couple caveats: you need to have python installed and you need vim compiled with support for the python interpreter (–enable-pythoniterp during configure). It doesn’t work with a vanilla/default install of vim and python — you must enable the interpreter. This shouldn’t be a problem for most users since most packaging systems use a kitchen sink approach to every application, and most distros also include python in their bases.

Once you have python installed on your system and vim configured with the python interpreter, just install the vimpress plugin (blog.vim) in your ~/.vim/plugins directory. It also has a syntax file. It should install to the correct places when you extract the tarball.

The configuration is very simple and commented in the blog.vim file. Set up your account and password and you’re ready to go.

You won’t notice anything different when you start vim or gvim, but you’ll have some new commands:
:BlogList
:BlogNew
:BlogOpen
:BlogSend

These are pretty self-explanatory: the list is your active posts, new starts a new post, send posts it, and open can be used to edit or read any post.

To create a new entry, just open vim or gvim and give the :BlogNew command. You’ll get a meta heading at the top with room for the post’s title, tags, and a list of your categories. Set that as you want and write your post. When you’re ready to send, go back to command mode and enter the :BlogSend command. You can save a local copy as well (:w filename), which is something I do before sending anyway.

Vimpress can also integrate quite well with other applications. I tend to run my computing life out of GNU screen. This allows me to grab links (like the ones above in this post) from elinks, which is my preferred browser, and paste them into vim. You could probably add whatever content you want without even leaving vim if you’re creative enough and have the right tools (e. g., using :r! curl something to grab links or other content). Cutting and pasting isn’t any more cumbersome than with a mouse between tabs in Firefox. It accepts HTML tags.

It’s nice to have a way to post without waiting for a flashy interface to load in a resource-hogging browser, and then have it reload and save every few minutes. Even more impressive is how it can be done straight from my preferred editor (even in a console without X) and leverage all of the editor’s features, not to mention features from other plugins.

If you’re trying to cut down on your resource drain and you use wordpress (and python and vim or gvim), give vimpress a try.

—-
system info:
OpenBSD 4.3-stable (GENERIC) #0: Mon Aug 4 23:17:04 CDT 2008
(might patch and update later today)

VIM – Vi IMproved 7.2 (2008 Aug 9, compiled Sep 21 2008 08:11:20)
(updating via cron shortly)

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