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Desk: A simple way to write and blog

By Melissa Hill on February 4, 2015

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The Theme Foundry team is pretty serious about productivity and it’s exciting to be able to feature helpful tools and apps we like. This week, we’ve been talking about Desk, a writing app for Mac that makes blogging a breeze. I’ve been playing with Desk for a few weeks now, getting to know it, establishing a workflow, and testing it out with WordPress and our themes, and it’s been an overwhelmingly pleasant experience.

It’s also on sale through Thursday in the App store, so hurry and grab a copy for yourself!

Desk was designed to help make you a better, more prolific, and more productive writer. By cutting through all the junk that regular text editors use, adopting a minimilast design, and making it effortless to publish. Desk was made for shippers.

Write your posts in markdown or use the tastefully uncluttered WYSIWYG editor. Drag and drop images into your drafts and set their alignment. And when you’re ready, you can choose a category, tag your posts, and even drop in a featured image before you publish.

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I tested Desk with Make, to beautiful results (a page created with the Post section on the left, the draft in Desk on the right):

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It’s worth noting that Desk just edits posts, not pages. But it was designed with bloggers in mind. Some of the (probably underrated) features I liked:

  • The word count is displayed at the bottom of the editor, so I can do my morning pages and will know when I hit my targeted 750 words.
  • Desk shows an approximate read time as well. Useful when you’ve gotten into a groove writing, only to come up 3000 words later.
  • The night mode is really lovely to write on. Especially if you spend a large chunk of your day staring at the glowing white internet.

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There’s been a lot of debate around the inclusion of the distraction-free writing mode in WordPress 4.1 and how it might be enhanced in the future. For bloggers who are using WordPress primarily as a blog-publishing platform, Desk makes such discussions moot and streamlines the process from draft to final post.

Are you a blogger? Do you have any favorite tools or apps to simplify your workflow?

7 Comments

  1. Melissa Hill

    Of course. Great job with Desk, John! It’s been a treat to work with!

  2. David Bennett

    Good writeup.

    I’ve been using Desk for a couple of weeks and I passed a couple of comments back to John.

    I am looking forward to the update that will include an option not to turn off comments (which it does automatically in the current version).

    One thing I have found with Desk is that an over-zealous use of the delete key when editing can cause a piece of text to run into an earlier, styled piece of text such as a header or a link.

    With text editors like MarsEdit that show the html it is easy to see what to correct. It’s not as intuitive with Desk.

    Blogo suffers from the same problem but I much prefer Desk to Blogo.

    Have you looked in the Admin panel in WP at the posts posted from Desk?

    I see lots of paragraph/emphasis/line break/ etc. code in there. MarsEdit doesn’t do that. But I have no idea whether that code is bloat or simply that Desk shows code that is hidden with the WP editor or with MarsEdit.

    And if it is extra code, is it just a drop in the ocean compared to the all the other factors that can slow a site down?

    I figure that you people at TheThemeFoundry are good people to ask about this and I’d love to hear from you with your opinion.

    Bottom line is that I am using Desk despite having been a MarsEdit user for years – and I think the reason is because of the visual appeal of Desk. That appeal might pass, but for now I am enjoying it.

    It’s a bit like the distraction-free mode in WP. I like it – but I think I like it mostly because of the novelty of the other parts of the Admin panel disappearing and reappearing.

  3. Melissa Hill

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the comment! It did take me a few test posts to figure out how to write on Desk without WordPress inserting unnecessary line breaks. Not sure if the fault lies with Desk or WordPress on that issue. I have a love/hate relationship with the visual editor on WordPress anyway.

    I can’t say I have much experience with overzealous deletion though. :)

    I’ve used ByWord for a long time, though sometimes it’s buggy. I do like it because I do a lot of writing on my iPad though and it syncs on Dropbox. If Desk were to release a version for iPad, I’d be 100% sold! I agree that the visual appeal of Desk is a large part of the charm. I also like the community and great support around the app as well though.

  4. David Bennett

    Hi Melissa,
    I noticed the line-break/paragraph issue. I wonder whether it might be the WP and Desk are using different versions of Markdown?

    With the original John Gruber version, a paragraph ‘needs’ two carriage returns. We switched to using a single carriage return version with our own app for that very reason.

  5. Frederic Pierron

    Hi,

    Desk is a great choice.
    I have made a deep comparison of Desk, Blogo and MarsEdit. You can read here : http://wp.me/p3Sg4x-nA

    Desk is more than a offline editor for WordPress. It can do all your text creation (notes, articles, novel, and so on…). But the 2 others are great too.

    By the way, I love your work. I may buy Oxford soon, the two columns side by side is a kind of dream for me. I have already bought Watson, which was my template for a while.

  6. Melissa Hill

    Hi Frederic, thanks for sharing your post! I definitely also like Desk because I can see myself using it for much more than blogging also.

    Thanks for the kind words on our themes also. :)

Comments are closed.