Postach.io (@postachio) Requires GitHub (@github) For Theme Customization?!

At some point the Postach.io team decided their dashboard theme editor was… was what? Insufficient? Too complicated? Difficult to maintain? I don’t know. I never had a chance to use their old theme editor.

What I do know is that their new theme editing solution poses a number of significant challenges - some of which I fear might really harm their growth. That would be a shame. I like the simplicity of their easy-to-use Evernote-to-blog approach. It’s the main reason I started using their service to begin with. Sadly, a tiny crack of doubt has appeared.

For those unaware of Postach.io’s changes, here’s my high-level, in-a-nutshell summary: one, editing a theme now requires the Postach.io account holder to connect their Postach.io account to a GitHub account; and two, edits, big or small, need to be committed to a fork of a Postach.io theme repository. In my opinion, this is an excessive solution - a solution that fails to match the same elegance of Postach.io’s business directive, a solution that is needlessly complicated. I think their solution is a step backwards.

I can imagine how frustrating this change might be for a user who doesn’t know the git workflow or doesn’t have the time to learn some of the inner-workings (i.e. LESS, Gulp, Jinja, etc.). Granted, I know git, and the workflows involved, so, as a geek, I’m relatively happy with the changes. As someone who builds software for a living, however, I cringed when I read Postach.io’s announcement, specifically their comment concerning the replacement - “we are truly sorry for temporarily removing [the original source editor] without proper warning or a comparable replacement.” Ouch.

Given an audience with Postach.io’s founders, Gavin Vickery (@geekforbrains) and Shawn Adrian (@nerdburn), I would strongly encourage them to bring back a simple browser-based editor for HTML, JS, and CSS, appeasing those who don’t need/want the new process, while also improving their GitHub integration to allow for more user-contributed themes. [ed. Call me!]

One last thing. While I was kicking the tires on the new theme editing workflow, I came across a few “issues” that I thought I’d document.

  • It’s not enough to fork a repository and choose it from the list on the “Source Code” page. A single commit needs to be made in order to start the (build?) process. This is highly problematic as using the “Source Code” option will kill a live blog, leaving only a page full of instructions for visitors to view. Not good.
  • In order to toggle between different custom themes it’s necessary to choose a theme from the “Theme Browser” between - custom, provided, custom.
  • Create a staged version of each blog for previewing theme changes and providing a feedback loop.
  • I would prefix all of the Postach.io themes on GitHub with “postachio-” so the brand stays with every forked repository. I edited mine so any GitHub followers, either now or in the future, would know what they were browsing.

Lastly, I want to reiterate - I still believe Postach.io is the right choice for me. I just want to see them get better and better.

Cheers!