Self-publish with free software

May 2024

I have previously self-blogged1 with a combination of methods: rolling my own HTML (as one does); and composing in Markdown then converting to HTML with the command-line tool Pandoc. While writing that sentence, I impulsively did a web search and found that not only does Pandoc have a GUI version, but at least one adjacent project that allows creation of Markdown documents alongside a web preview (below).

Well, I’ll explore those later (my ultimate goal is to be able to advise activists wanting to self-publish on/in community intranets, as well as online). What set me off creating this document was a friend asking (on Mastodon, for what it’s worth) how she could easily create simple HTML pages for display on her own computer; I reminded her that LibreOffice allows one to view, edit & export documents in web format. Answering her question made me wonder if I could use that as another method of self-blogging. So here we are! I deliberately inserted an image because I want to see how easily the bundled files can be placed in the server.

Well, here’s how that went: I did a “Save As” [HTML] and then directed my browser to view the page; it was disappointing. The text had wrapped around the image too tightly, and the footnote had been hiked up and even overlapped with the image slightly. I then came back to this “office” document and used its tool menu to turn off wrapping completely. Saved again, and refreshed the browser window. Problem solved… but not a good look. The page was all spaced out. I came back and fiddled with the image and wrap settings, went to web view, fiddled more... while doing this, it occurred to me that I could also view and edit the CSS elements in the HTML file (for my own education; I still want to be able to show people how to self-blog without handling any code). I might do that too, later. For now I’m happy to have updated myself on the web-friendliness of LibreOffice.

Postscript: I am now happy with the following work-flow: Compose a text in LibreOffice, including embedding of images; save as HTML; upload to web server using SSHeasy web client.

Post-postscript: KISS method: Compose in PanWriter (or import file there); export file as HTML; upload as before. This gives a nice default style (see MVP.html)

1Self-blogging: placing one’s files in a web server, as opposed to using a blogging platform. Of course I’ve also used various platforms, but my interest lies in low-resource contexts like community intranets.