Lee Perry
March 13th, 2024

On Scribbles

I've been testing out Scribbles for the last few days.  Here's my thoughts on why, what I think so far, and which I might (and might not) use it for.

My main site is hosted over on micro.blog.  There are a number of things that I like about the setup there.  In theory I like the activitypub integration, which should interface my site with the indieweb.  I also like the flexibility that the Hugo backend gives, which has allowed me to design a site that is very bespoke to me.  However, interaction feels quite cliqued and is also restricted by micro.blog's design ethos, which also impacts on the ability to do funky things in the yaml frontmatter.  So I've been considering replacing that setup with a self-hosted solution, partly inspired by some of the work Kev Quirk has been doing over on his site in 11ty.  However, having just sunk best part of a week over the mandatory winter holiday 'perfecting' my site, I'm not sure that I can be bothered.

I've been watching various people posting content from Scribbles on the micro.blog timeline.  The platform seemed to draw at least some inspiration from the blog functionality at hey.com, less the email workflow.  Clean, crisp, rss first - when I saw a post from @Vincent on lifetime memberships for early adopters, I thought that I would get in on the beta, and reward a nice piece of innovation too.

What do I think so far?

I've been setting up and using scribbles for a few days now.

Firstly, the limited set of customisation options mean it's pretty difficult to spend too much time faffing with the site.  It is really geared towards getting in and writing stuff.  So if you are looking for a nice clean platform to write content in, then it might be for you.  If you are looking to build a custom design, it won't be.  That said though, there is plenty that you can customise including the header and footer blocks, the accent color, standard button text, and expanded / contracted article presentation on the index.

Scribbles Explore
Scribbles Explore

One of the best features of Scribbles is the community within the backend.  Press the 'e' key to visit the explore area (or select from the menu), where you can find links to various blogs, posts and shorts (title less posts) in Scribbles.  At the same time, if you do not want your content to appear here, just don't opt-in.

I've only posted a couple of posts (shorts) to test out functionality.  The first was a photo of my podenco Leo posing, and the second a photograph from Bolton Wanderer's game at the Reebok last night.  In both cases this worked seamlessly, and through the integration with Vincent's amazing tinylytics analytics tool I can see that I'm probably getting more post reactions / kudos along the way.

What's next?

As President Bartlett asked in the West Wing.

I'm not sure, is the honest answer, I've not really decided what I will use Scribbles for yet.

I've also been meaning to start a professional related project for a while.  That will be very image light and text heavy, so maybe Scribbles could be a good platform for that, though I'd likely set up a separate project to host it here.  I had been considering adding an extra micro.blog site for this (their recent changes to the premium offer really are excellent).  I believe Vincent is going to add Markdown support at some point - it would be ever better still then.

The Scribbles code block functionality looks (I'm about to use it for the first time) excellent, so I can see that Scribbles would also be ace for writing articles about code.  See:

greeting = "Hello Scribbles World"

However, it will be even better if I can ever inject a trinket into an iframe to demonstrate code running.

What not?

Scribbles' strengths lie in writing, and while image insertion works really well, I can't imagine that adding any decent quantity of images to a post or short is anything other than tedious.  It's not what the platform is designed for.  So I don't think my main blog moves across.  I'm also really happy with my site handle here, so I'll probably not point a custom domain to Scribbles either.

Similarly Scribbles would not be useful for my retro gaming project macretro, which again needs iframe capability to embed gaming videos.  Scribbles is probably not geared towards the level of interaction that project can get from readers, especially when anything in the news leads to everybody my age reaching for their Championship Manager Season 2001/02 CD-ROM, and trying to work out how to play it on MacOS!

On that note, I'll leave this post there.  Hope that you found it, and that it was useful!

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