I’m still very much a beginner photographer but looking to improve. This post on creating better phone photos has a lot of inspiration:

Behind the emergence of a these incredible mobile photos are countless amazing photographers who – everyday – redefine and push the limits of this new art. And so – we asked the world’s best mobile photographers just how exactly they create art with their phones.

JavaScript Helper for Triggering Stripe Failures

Lately I’ve had to integrate Stripe a few times and I keep having to visit their test card page over and over to copy and paste failed cards. Today I finally had enough and threw together a little helper that you can add to a Laravel blade file.

With this when you view the credit card form you can open console and type stripeData. and have autocomplete of whatever failed message you want to test for.

I know this is super simple but it helped me so I think it’s worth sharing.

I had several people ask me to do an interview in my Artisan files series and it just so happens I had an empty slot this week so I was happy to oblige.

The Simplest Way To Use Laravel Blade And AngularJS Together

By default AngularJS and Blade conflict with the way variables are called. Both use a double curly bracket {{ var }} syntax. There are a few workarounds such as changing Angular’s or Blade’s delimiters but an easier method is available.

Inside blade prefix Angular echo variables with the at “@“ symbol. Here is an example:

This will prevent blade from parsing it but will be correct when sent to the browser.

Nice and simple!

Ulysses III Themes

In my post yesterday about Ulysses III I posted a screenshot of my customized theme. Since then I’ve had a few requests for me to release the theme and I’m happy to oblige, you can now find the following two themes in their styles exchange.

Here they are in all their glory.

Peacock Ulysses III Theme

Peacock Ulysses III Theme
Peacock – Inspired by Dayle Rees

Simplex Ulysses III Theme

Simplex Ulysses III Theme
Simplex Theme

Most of my focus was on the dark styles but the beauty of Ulysses is that customizing them is super easy.

To get your theme to look just like mine I used the following Ulysses settings:

  • Font: Anonymous Pro
  • Line Height: 1.4
  • Paragraph Spacing: 0.2
  • First Line Indent: 0
  • Page Width: 70
  • Insertion Point: iOS

I hope you enjoy these and if you have any questions just ask in the comments below.

Ulysses III – An IDE for your writing

I’m fascinated by writing apps. So much in fact that I believe I have purchased every one that has ever been made. I’ve even tried using development apps like Sublime and PhpEdit but nothing ever felt just right. I can’t explain it but it was always some little issue that drove me crazy.

This all changed when I found an app called Ulysses III. At the core it’s a nice markdown writing app much like some of the others on the market. But that is where the similarities end. It is minimal yet extremely powerful.

What I enjoy most is the sidebar and the library of all your files, sheets as they call them. I’ve seen a few apps do this but something about having everything together in one app makes me feel good.

All files are backed up to iCloud and are available on the Mac and iOS via their free companion app Daedalus Touch. I do most of my writing on the Mac but having the iOS app is great for jotting down quick notes while on the go.

Where the app shines is in those little features that are out of the way unless you need them. They have mastered making a simple app.

A simple app isn’t simple by virtue of having fewer options, a simple app is simple because of usability. — Ben Brooks

From the folder level you can set goals, see statistics, and add custom/smart folders. These same things can be done on a sheet level, as well as custom tags.

The writing environment is also nice. It supports markdown with some added features such as comments, notes, and annotations. You can really do some series writing in it. In fact you can even split a sheet which would come in handy when writing your next novel.

The export is another great thing. You can export as markdown to your clipboard, send to marked app, export a PDF, email, or iBooks. They even have a styles exchange where you can install different themes for both exporting and the writing environment. Here is my current customized theme:

ulyssesIII-theme

Along with all these it even has a quick open (command + o) which is similar to Sublimes command + p or PhpStorm’s recent files. Fully searchable.

Ulysses III is an IDE for all your writing.

———

So far I’ve only used it for blogging but I am planning on releasing the next volume of the Artisan Files e-book with it. I feel like with the export templates and the feature set it has, I can generate a nice looking e-book. Not only that but save me the headache of using iBooks. I never could fully figure that app out. 🙂

The only downside is the export doesn’t appear to support mobi files. I am hoping an app like Calibre can help here. Only time will tell.

I’m very pleased with this app and on my list it’s a must have.

Tips for Writing Technical Blog Posts

As a developer one of the best ways of giving back, beyond releasing code, is by writing about your experiences. Think about all the people you follow on social media. Chances are you follow the ones that are sharing knowledge and inspire you.

I love this part of the industry but a lot of times I see developers make common copywriting mistakes in their blog posts.

What good is a tutorial or article if it’s glanced over or never found?

In this post I’m going to outline some of the tips I’ve picked up and mistakes I’ve made in the past.

Article Structure

Your technical blog post needs structure. Two common methods are:

  • Introduction, body, and closing.
  • Pain, dream, fix (by Amy Hoy)

The first method is what a lot of technical articles use. It has a tendency to come out pretty dry and boring.

I like the second method better as it makes it easier for you to set up a story. The basics is to start your article by focusing on the pain or problem, then a dream of what you want to accomplish, and finally the actual fix or solution.

As a developer this is much of our entire day, so moving it into a story form is easy and should come naturally.

Article Title

Have you spent hours crafting a blog post, editing it, making sure its perfect, only to have it be a big flop? I have, numerous times and one of the common problems is the title. In fact much has been written about crafting the perfect title and it could be argued it’s the most important part of your article.

For us developers the best titles are those that other developers will be searching for. For example on my site “Switching to PhpStorm” and “Setting up Gulp, Bower, Bootstrap Sass, & FontAwesome” are my most popular posts. The only reason is because they appear in search engines.

Those two posts I threw together fairly quick and the ones I’ve spent the most time on hardly get any traffic.

Article Introduction

I touched on the introduction previously but it needs it’s own section. The introduction is the second most important part. This is where you inform readers on what to expect and set everything up.

I come across lots of articles where this is missing or just generic filler. It doesn’t draw me in and at that point I just scan the headings for sections that sound interesting.

Article Content

Including headings and scannable break points is another important feature. On the web readers quickly scan articles so you need a break to draw them into each section. Some examples are of course headings, blockquotes, lists, and images.

It’s also important to write clearly and keep your style consistent. In technical writing that means keeping your naming the same. A common example is writing the word JavaScript. Don’t mix between using js and JavaScript. Stick with one.

Another tip is to run your text through an app like hemingway. For web writing keep everything at a grade nine reading level or lower. Using small words helps readers where English isn’t their primary language, and makes your content more consumable.

Article Closing

In copywriting the closing is typically your call to action. Most developers aren’t selling anything so this is a great spot to ask for comments, connect via social media, or recap the article.

Wrap Up

I hope these tips on the structure, title, and content help you the next time you are writing a technical article. Now go and write about that problem you solved today. I’m sure it would be a benefit to others.