Review of Typlog as a turnkey platform for IndieWeb as a Service

Review of Typlog as a turnkey platform for IndieWeb as a Service
Yesterday I ran across a tweet in the IndieWeb chat announcing that Typlog, a hosted website/blogging platform, now supports Webmention.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

I looked at their website, and it also looks like they support a few other IndieWeb building blocks including WebSub and RelMeAuth by leveraging Twitter and GitHub. (The developer indicated they supported IndieAuth, but I highly suspect it’s just RelMeAuth, which is still a solid option for many IndieWeb tools.) 

Having just put together a Quick Start IndieWeb chart that includes services like micro.blog, i.haza.website, and pine.blog, I was immediately intrigued. This new platform (proprietary and not self-hostable, but very similar to the others) looks like a solid looking little platform for hosting one’s personal website (or podcast) that includes some IndieWeb building-blocks.

It’s got a 7 day free trial, so naturally I spun up a quick website. With just a few simple defaults, I had something pretty solid looking in only a few minutes with a pleasant on-boarding experience.

I’ll note that some functionality like importing content from WordPress, Tumblr, Ghost, or a podcast feed requires an actual subscription. Once you’ve finally subscribed, there are instructions to set it up to use your own domain name. However, most of the basic functionality is available in the trial. Another important indie feature is that it has a built-in export using JSON format, so that one can take their domain and content to another service provider if they wish.

It looks like it’s got a ton of common useful features! This includes support for podcasting, password protected posts, scheduling posts, membership posts, and integrations for Stripe, CloudFlare, Google Analytics, and MailChimp among many others. The platform is built with some basic and beautiful page templates and prefers to have markdown in the editor, but seems to work well with raw HTML.

They also allow adding custom code into <header> and <footer> so it should be straightforward to add support Microsub to one’s site using a service like Aperture so that you can have (feed) reader support.

Unfortunately it looks like there’s no Micropub support yet. I suspect that Typlog would be quite pleased to have a number of posting applications for both desktop and mobile available to it by adding this sort of support.

Also on testing, it looks like while the platform supports incoming Webmention, it doesn’t seem to be sending webmentions to links within posts. (Perhaps they’re batch processed asynchronously, but I haven’t seen anything yet.)

The platform seems to do really well for posting articles and podcasts and even has a custom template for reviews, but all of the user interface I’ve seen requires one to add a title on all posts, so it doesn’t lend itself to adding notes (status updates) or other indie-like posts like bookmarks, likes, or simple replies. It has a minimal built in h-card, but it could be expanded a bit for sending webmentions.

The pricing for the service starts at a very reasonable $4/month and goes up to $12/month with some additional discounts for annual payments.

In sum, I love this as another very indy-flavored web hosting service and platform for those looking to make a quick and easy move into a more IndieWeb way of hosting their website and content. While services like micro.blog and i.haza.website may be ahead of it on some technical fronts, like pine.blog, Typlog has a variety of different and unique features that many are likely to really appreciate or wish that other services might have. I imagine that over time, all of them will have relative technical parity, but will differentiate themselves on user interface, flexibility, and other services. I could definitely recommend it to friends and family who don’t want to be responsible for building and managing their websites.

One of my favorite parts of Typlog is that the company building it is based in Japan, where I’ve seen a little bit of development work for IndieWeb, but not as much as in portions of Europe, America, or Australia. It’s been great seeing some growth and spread of IndieWeb philosophy and platforms in Asia, Africa, and India recently.

And of course, who couldn’t love the fact that the developer is obviously eating their own cooking by using the platform to publish their own website! I can’t wait to see where Typlog goes next.

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich

Exploring Pine.blog

I’d noticed Pine.blog before at a previous IndieWebCamp, but not had time to delve into it very deeply. Seeing some of what Brian Schrader has been working on while following IndieWebCamp Austin remotely this weekend has reminded about the project. As a result, I’ve been spending some time tonight to check out some of the functionality that it’s offering. In part, I’m curious how similar, or not, it is to what Micro.blog is offering specifically with respect to the idea of IndieWeb as a Service which I’ve recently begun documenting. It’s always great to see the growing diversity and plurality of solutions in the space.

My brief prior experience with the platform was simply adding my website to their discovery service. Tonight I’ve found that Pine.blog has got a very pretty little feed reader experience with some fun discovery functionality. You can apparently create multiple timelines to follow content, but one needs a paid account for more than one timeline. It allows both following sites as well as recommending them to others. It also appears that Brian is supporting the rel=”payment” microformat as I see at least one feed that has a “$ Support” button in the Pine.blog interface to allow me to go to the site’s payment page to support it. I think this may be one of the first times I’ve seen this functionality in an app in the wild outside of the Overcast podcast app which added it a couple of years ago.

It has webmention support, so I can “like” things within the reader and notify others. Without a paid account I don’t see the ability to reply to or mention other sites though. It also looks like it allows for import/export of OPML too, though I haven’t tried it out yet–I can only test drive so many feed readers at a time and Indigenous is taking up all of my bandwidth at present.

I do wonder a bit about potentially importing/exporting my content if I were to go all-in on Pine.blog. I’d bet the idea is on the product map, but that’s a huge bit of work to build without a paid user base to support it. I’d personally want at least an export function if I were to change over, though I’m more likely to want to dovetail my own site with it much the way I’m currently doing with Micro.blog.

It looks like it should be able to post to my website, but I’m finding the “publish” and “preview” buttons don’t work–perhaps I need a paid account for this functionality? Of course, I only see UI to provide pine.blog with my URL and my account name, but it hasn’t authenticated using a password or other method, so perhaps that portion isn’t finished? I’ll circle back around to it later when I do a free trial. I do notice that Brian, the developer of the project, has an account on pine.blog which is mirrored on one of his subdomains running WordPress. Quirkily I’ve noticed that the header on his main website changes to alternately serve the pine.blog version and the WordPress version!

More to come as I continue exploring… Later on I’ll take a look at some of their paid functionality, but for now, it’s a pretty compelling set of features and some well-laid out user interface to start. I look forward to seeing how it continues to evolve.

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich