A blogging platform for the decentralized web
While blogging may not be a core necessity for Graphite, it is something we’ve always been interested in. For me, personally, blogging has been a big part of life. My first blog was a simple San Diego Padres fan blog. I then started writing for more mainstream sports blogging sites, eventually launching my own sports blogging company. That company was eventually acquired by a Fantasy Sports site. So, yes, blogging is important to me and important to Graphite.
As a fun side project to the core Graphite product, we built Graphite Publishing. The words you’re reading now were written in Graphite Publishing. It’s still very much a beta project, but I think it could be something exciting and new in the decentralized web space. There are plenty of blogging platforms out there, many of them promising you data ownership. With Graphite Publishing, you get true data ownership plus encryption (until you publish a post). Your drafts are protected. Keep them to yourself until you’re ready to share them with the world. Beyond that, it’s just a fun app. Here are some of the features:
Like writing in a full-screen, distraction-free mode? No problem, hit the square button in the bottom-right and you’ll go full-screen. But that’s not all.
For those who don’t like a bright screen at night or who just prefer dark themes in general, hit the moon icon in the bottom-right, and you’ll toggle dark mode. Hit it again to switch back. This is such a fun feature that we’ll be including it in the core Graphite product in the near future.
Design Your Site
Many blogging platforms offer you one of two main solutions: Use their style and format or find custom themes and upload them. Sure, you can probably customize some weird hybrid of html and css to make a truly unique site (hi, Wordpress!), but if you barely know html, how are you going to figure out how to customize hybrid code? With Graphite Publishing, there are three pre-built themes available, but you have full control over the html and css of both your main landing page and the single post page.
Click the Design link in the navigation and you’ll be able to toggle between the main page designer and the post designer. Graphite Publishing uses Handlebars to render posts, but don’t worry, the instructions for including that in your design are readily available. Just click the “i” icon on either the main page designer or the post designer.
We believe that as part of full data ownership, you should have total ownership of your brand as well. There are no design limits for your site. Go, design, play!
Custom Deployments & Unique Domains
If you head on over to the Settings link in the navigation, you’ll see your default site url. It’ll look something like:
That url will automatically be generated when you sign up for an account. In the future, it is very likely that we’ll open up custom subdomains to make these site links a little more pretty out of the box. However, Graphite Publishing is open source, and free (while in beta). So, you can download the “build” folder from the Github repository here. Then, upload it to the static hosting platform of your choice and run your blog from your own host and on your own domain. You might end up with something like:
The above, of course, is not a real url. But as a fun proof of being able to deploy this site ANYWHERE, we went ahead and deployed it on the new Xor Browser (another Blockstack app). You can see it at the link below:
You can also go to https://xorbrowser.com/ and search for “jehunter5811.id” in the search bar at the top. Pretty cool! A decentralized blog published to a decentralized hosting platform.
Keep in mind, if you go this route, you will manually have to deploy updates. Whereas if you just use the hosted site, you will always be up to date.
This is just a fun feature. It may not feel terribly necessary, but it’s something not many blogging platforms offer. After you sign up, all Graphite Publishing branding is gone. By default, the navigation bar on all the back end pages will have the account name you chose in the logo section. However, if you click the Settings link in the navigation, you can go and upload a logo instead of just displaying your account name.
It’s a fun little touch that I think a lot of people will enjoy.
The goal of this side project is prove out what can be built on Blockstack’s developer platform. In the future, you will see team publications, meaning you can invite other team members to write on your blog. You’ll see comments and reactions. You’ll see a ton of new features that will push the limits of Blockstack. Think of this not just as an experiment in what Blockstack can built, but also as an experiment in the types of architectures Graphite can custom-build on top of Blockstack.
As this is a beta product, there are sure to be bugs. If you find them, email us at contact [at] graphitedocs [dot] com or open an issue here.
If you’re just being introduced to Graphite via this blog or via Graphite Publishing, I encourage you to also check out the core product here:
Break free of data miners, own your data, own your security.