How Does Calepin Work?

Calepin reads Markdown-formatted, plain-text files stored in your Dropbox and converts them into blog posts for you. You can publish, edit, re-edit, and delete posts just by editing these files and then re-publishing your blog. Calepin does the work of converting these plain-text files into a useable blog, and even generates an Atom feed to allow people to subscribe to your blog in their favourite feed-reader, leaving your free to concentrate on writing.

By combining a service you already have with a syntax that’s easy to learn, Calepin is the easiest way to self-publish online.

Quick Start

After logging into Calepin go back to your Dropbox and look for a folder labeled “Apps”. The Calepin folder should already be there with a sample blog post. Make sure all your blog posts are plain text. Use a plain text editor like Byword or Notepad. All files in ~/Dropbox/Apps/Calepin should carry the .md or .rst filename extension.

All blog posts must carry a date and a title. This is metadata needed by the generator to order and label your posts meaningfully. Format your posts like the screenshot at the bottom of the page, otherwise they may not be picked up by Calepin and won’t be published published on your blog. More details on how to format your posts are in the Calepin Guide.

When you hit the “Publish” button Calepin picks up edits, removals and new posts and updates your Calepin URL to reflect your newest work.

Why Use Calepin?

Because It’s Uncomplicated

All you need is a Dropbox account and some knowledge of Markdown. That’s it.

Because Markdown Is Easy and Elegant

Markdown “allows you to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to structurally valid HTML”. You don’t need to learn complex HTML tags, and the syntax isn’t heavy or distracting; you can easily add headlines, subheads, emphasis, links, and footnotes without ended up with a complex, hard-to-read mishmash of tags.

Due to its simplicity and ease-of-reading, Markdown is the ideal syntax for writing essays, long-form journalism, and short stories: none of the complexity of Microsoft Word, but all of the features you’ve come to rely on for serious writing.

Because Dropbox Is Always With You

Dropbox takes care of syncing your writing to all your devices together so you can write and edit posts anywhere. It’s on your desktop, your laptop, and your smartphone, and you don’t need to worry: write a draft on your iPhone and it’s waiting for to put the finishing touches on you on your Mac.

Because Calepin Does All the Hard Work for You

With Calepin, you don’t have any of the complexity normally involved with static site generators. No awkward CLI commands to try and remember, no updates or patches to apply, no server management, no fiddling with RSS feeds. Calepin does this all for you, leaving you to concentrate on the most important part: the writing.

Because You’re Not Locked In

Find something that works better for you? No problem. Your .md files are small and portable, and aren’t locked away inside a proprietary format or hidden away inside an arcane XML file. They’re right there in a folder you own and control, ready to be used somewhere else if you need them.

Because You Own Your Writing

Some other blog services claim copyright or unlimited, permanent reuse rights on everything you post on them.

Calepin doesn’t. Not now, not ever.

You retain copyright to everything you post with Calepin, and always will. We won’t reuse it, sell it, or try to take your rights away from you. And if we want to use anything you’ve created in our publicity materials, we’ll ask your permission before we do it.

FAQ

Themes

Calepin currently has no plans for custom themes. Think of it like submitting a short story to a newspaper: the writer’s identity isn’t portrayed through a look and feel — it’s portrayed through their words.

Posts Not Showing Up?

Calepin is picky on posts it processes. Every post must have “Date” and “Title” in the metadata, formatted correctly. Calepin also skips ANYTHING that is not UTF-8 encoded. So make sure your editor handles saving and editing UTF-8 files. Most Mac OS X and iOS editors do this by default. Windows users may need to dig into the editor settings.

Custom Domains

Calepin fully supports custom domains for all accounts.

Is Calepin Free

Many users are rightfully concerned about the longevity of their published work. The only way to guarantee it is by making Calepin make sense in the long term to the app creator. In the future, expect Calepin to become a paid service with a free trial or limited account. Right now the service is 100% free. There is no concrete time plan for the paid version.

What Does a Calepin Site Look Like?

This post by Calepin user Koralatov is a good example of the sort of post you can write using Markdown and Calepin. You can also compare it to its Markdown source.

There’s a lively and growing ecosystem of apps and online tools built with Markdown in mind. MarkdownPad for Windows and Byword for Mac are both good desktop editors; Elements for iPad and iPhone uses Dropbox for storing all its files, and makes a good option for writing on iOS devices.

There are lots of other options, though, so follow @calepinapp on Twitter for tips on writing in Markdown. We always welcome suggestions on which tools to use for writing Markdown.

Calepin Guide

For more settings and tips read the Calepin Guide.

Testimonials