Blogging from GNU Emacs
Yes, blogging from Emacs is possible.
If you are not so familiar with Org-mode, or with publishing HTML project (or just enjoy reviewing the basics from time to time), here is a small tutorial describing the steps to let you enjoy an Emacs blog.
Org-mode 15 seconds introduction
Fire up GNU Emacs.
C-x C-f ~/my-blog.org RET to create a new Org file named
In this file, hit
M-RET to insert a new heading. Type something
sensible as the title of your next blog entry:
* My first blog post with Emacs and Org! This will be the content of my blog entry.
my-blog.org as a HTML page
You need to publish your Org page somewhere in your computer.
So let's create a
public_html/ directory in your home directory:
~$ mkdir public_html
Now edit your
.emacs.el file and add this Emacs lisp snippet:
(setq org-publish-project-alist '(("blog" :base-directory "~/" :html-extension "html" :base-extension "org" :publishing-directory "~/public_html/" :publishing-function (org-html-publish-to-html) :html-preamble nil :html-postamble nil)))
The code above defines a HTML publishing project with no preamble and no postamble. (To learn more on publishing projects, please read the Org manual.)
Evaluate this code by hitting
C-x e at the end of the last
M-x org-publish RET blog RET anywhere in Emacs to publish
public_html/ directory now contains a new file,
with a HTML export of your
my-blog.org as a RSS feed
You want to publish this page as a RSS feed so that readers can subscribe to it. (Yes, my own definition of a blog is that simple: some HTML content and a feed.)
You are three steps away from having a blog—you only need to:
ox-rss.elto enable RSS publishing;
- create a RSS publishing project;
- add some RSS-related info in your HTML publishing project.
Enable RSS publishing
Find ox-rss.el in Org's
contrib/lisp/ directory and make sure this
directory is in your Emacs load-path.
Since Org lives in the
~/install/git/ contrib on my computer, this
is my configuration:
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/install/git/org-mode/contrib/lisp/") (require 'ox-rss)
add-to-list to append a new project to
org-publish-project-alist, but you can simply use
setq with both
Create a RSS publishing project
Add this new RSS publishing project:
(add-to-list 'org-publish-project-alist '("blog-rss" :base-directory "~/" :base-extension "org" :publishing-directory "~/public_html/" :publishing-function (org-rss-publish-to-rss) :html-link-home "http://mydomain.org/" :html-link-use-abs-url t))
It is pretty similar to our HTML publishing project except that:
- the publishing function we use is
- we set the
:html-link-homepublishing option so that relative links in our RSS feed are prefixed with the "http://mydomain.org/" domain name (assuming it will be the final destination of our blog);
- we set the
:html-link-use-abs-urlpublishing option to
t(true) so that all links in our RSS feed are absolute, since it does not make sense to have relative links in RSS feeds.
Evaluate the code above with
C-x e then hit
M-x org-publish RET
blog-rss RET to publish the RSS feed:
public_html/ now contains a
my-blog.xml file along with the
Add some RSS-related info in your HTML publishing project
Our last step is to link our RSS feed (the
my-blog.xml file) with
the HTML file. Let's rewrite our HTML project like this:
(setq org-publish-project-alist '(("blog" :base-directory "~/" :html-extension "html" :base-extension "org" :publishing-directory "~/public_html/" :publishing-function (org-html-publish-to-html) :html-preamble nil :html-postamble nil :html-head-extra "<link rel=\"alternate\" type=\"application/rss+xml\" href=\"http://mydomain.org/my-blog.xml\" title=\"RSS feed for mydomain.org\">")))
We just appended the
:html-head-extra option, which tells what
information we want to add in our HTML
Last but not least: a real setup
Okay, you now have a single file, with a RSS feed that points to headlines in this file. But what if you want to allow readers to comment your blog posts?
In this case, you need to have one page per blog entry and to use something like disqus.com to enable comments on this page.
This is perfectly fine!
Just write your blog posts in dedicated .org files, then use the
my-blog.org file as a collection of summaries of your blog posts.
At the end of each summary, put a link to the Org page where people
Then update your RSS publishing project like this:
(add-to-list 'org-publish-project-alist '("blog-rss" :base-directory "~/" :base-extension "org" :publishing-directory "~/public_html/" :publishing-function (org-rss-publish-to-rss) :html-link-home "http://mydomain.org/" :html-link-use-abs-url t :exclude ".*" :include ("my-blog.org")))
Note the options
:include—they say: "Don't publish
.xml files for all .org files in the base directory, only publish a
.xml file for
This setup may sound weird first, but I find it useful on the long
term: quick thoughts get directly in the main
my-blog.org file, and
longer blogs have their dedicated pages, with comments allowed.
Of course: you can do a lot more than that—here is a quick list:
- embed pictures;
- embed arbitrary HTML code;
- embed code snippets (zero headache to get syntax highlighting);
- tweak your RSS publishing project to skip TODO headlines
- use timestamps for drafts that need to be published later;
If you are not afraid of raw code with too few comments, you can dive into my .emacs.el and grab hints from my configuration.
Why this is cool?
- Writing in Emacs is just pure delight.
- Blog posts are now part of your Org agenda.
- If you already have a habit of taking your notes in Org, then you'll more easily take a habit of publishing blog posts from these notes.
- Since Org files are plain text, storing a blog as a git repository feels natural: people can contribute your blog with… patches.
ox-rss.el is not very well known so far, I hope this blog post will
encourage people to use it! Let me know if something is not clear.
You need to use Emacs version 24.2.1 (or later) and Org 8.0 (or later).
Thanks to Sacha Chua's post here about blogging with Emacs, as this triggered me to write this post! Her post is worth exploring for the links it contains to other Emacs-based solutions I didn't mentioned here… but I'm sure you'll discuss them in the comments.
To comment this blog post, you can send an email to the public mailing list ~firstname.lastname@example.org
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