Posting to Squarespace 6 (via email and app)

I’ve spent a week out of state and away from my desktop, meaning I don’t have access to my usual array of applications. I did, however, bring my iPad along, and so I started thinking about what I could do to make the process of posting to this site less cumbersome.

There is a Squarespace app for iOS, and I’ve posted from it a couple of times. It’s actually an excellent app, although it seems to crash on me at the most inconvenient times. In general when on the iPad I write in Textastic, which is a fantastic app1. I’ll then copy the generated HTML and paste it into the Squarespace app.

This works fine for posts without images, or posts where only one or two images are necessary.2 But for posts where inline images would be nice, it falls a bit short.

I have a separate hosting account where I can upload files, so I can insert images in the posts with HTML. In theory this isn’t particularly hard, but there are some problems with this:

  • It can be a little hard to keep track of the image URLs. I use FTP Client Pro to upload the images. TextExpander Touch helps a little with the process of inserting them. It works with Textastic, and I also use it for various other shortcuts when writing, notably footnotes, which I wrote about here.3
  • The images uploaded via FTP are far too large. They appear fine, but it’s obviously not ideal to have a 1.5MB file transfer for every image! I looked for a good app to batch resize files, but couldn’t find anything that looked simple enough for my purposes. The other issue with this is that on the iPad it’s harder to switch between different apps and maintain a good flow when writing.

With this in mind, I looked into posting by email, which can be enabled in the journal settings. Squarespace 6 allows images to be attached to emails for posting, and they are supposedly resized automatically. It’s also possible to use Markdown and HTML in the email, and this will be processed.4 However it’s not possible to insert an image inline except with a HTML img tag pointing to my own server, so this didn’t really help much. It’s also not possible to define tags or categories by email, and the posts are automatically published with no option to save as a draft.5

I might attempt to work out something that I could run on my iMac that would respond to emails to myself tagged with ‘#post’, then have that upload the images and copy links to them into a HTML document that could be emailed to the post-by-email address of my Squarespace journal. I could then go on and add categories and tags in the mobile app. The problem with this would be that if they aren’t saved as a draft before I add the tags, then they might be pushed out via RSS before I have a chance to do this.

I’m hopeful that the effort of doing this will be unnecessary at some point in the not too distant future. There’s no public API yet (see, for example, this thread talking about the possibility of XMLRPC API support.

In the meantime, I can’t see any particularly straightforward solution to my problem, so I suppose I’ll carry on picking away at complex image URLs.

  1. Textastic has support for MultiMarkdown. It wouldn’t be my first choice for all writing on the iPad ? for longer things I prefer Byword, but MMD format is necessary for footnotes (amongst other things). 

  2. The Squarespace app has an option to include images from the iOS device. It includes them at the end of the post, and automatically resizes them.  

  3. The TextExpander snippet I use on iOS is, sadly, not nearly as useful as the one I use on my iMac. ‘,,fn’ merely inserts ‘[^]’ and places the cursor where I can insert the number, and ‘,,rf’ inserts ‘[^]:’ and also places the cursor. 

  4. I asked Squarespace support about what functionality was enabled when posting by email and (after a somewhat confusing moment on Twitter) I found out that they didn’t know that Markdown and HTML was enabled for by-email posting. 

  5. This functionality was submitted as a feature request via Squarespace support.