Ulysses for iPhone is here

The Soulmen group today announced the official release of Ulysses for iPhone. Ulysses is a writing app for all your Apple devices and is my favorite one.

I took part in the beta of the iPhone release and I must say I’ve not really had any problems. Even from the early releases.

If you are looking for a professional writing app check out Ulysses Mobile

Should you disable comments on tutorials?

I received this question over email and I have to admit it’s a tricky one for me to answer. Before I get to the answer let me tell you about my outlook on comments and why I enable them here.

I allow comments because I love interacting with people without the 140 character restriction. Comments allow the conversation to continue and it’s nice to hear other points of view.

Continue reading “Should you disable comments on tutorials?”

Personal Websites

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Question of the day by Stephen Dubner and James Altucher. The show revolves around one single question and always has fun questions. Plus it’s short averaging around 15 minutes.

On this episode, they had a guest ask the question and it was, “Are personal websites still necessary?”. More specifically, if starting today would you create a personal website or use an existing hub like Medium?

Continue reading “Personal Websites”

2015 In Numbers

At the end of every year I like to look back and see what all I accomplished. Since almost everything I create and work on is online, generating stats and data is relatively easy. Plus many services are now sending “year in review” emails so it’s all automated. Here are some of this years numbers for Laravel News and this site.

Laravel News

Here is the break down for this year on Laravel News

  • 1.5 million views with the best day bringing in 27k.
  • 356 new posts, growing the total to 1,053 posts. Down from 679 last year.
  • Longest posting streak of 6 consecutive days. (I typically take the weekends off)
  • Most popular post was the Laravel 5 release announcement because it hit the front page of hacker news.
  • Top referring sites: twitter.com, facebook.com, news.ycombinator.com, laravel.com. Thanks to all the others that linked to the site.
  • Most visitors came from The United States, United Kingdom, & India. 212 countries in all.
  • The Laravel newsletter grew from 3,260 subscribers to 11,650.

Eric Barnes (this site)

For this site which gets almost no love.

  • 230k views with the best day bringing 1,800. Last year total views was 50k.
  • 33 posts published bringing the total to 114.
  • Setting up Gulp, Bower, Bootstrap Sass, & FontAwesome was the most popular post and it wasn’t even published this year. Search engines still reign.
  • Most visitors came from The United States, United Kingdom, & India.

I don’t think there is anything to really learn from these numbers except to show up everyday and eventually something will hit.

Laravel and Stripe

Over the past few years, I’ve implemented Laravel and Stripe on multiple occasions. Everything from subscriptions to one-off purchases. When I started, Laravel Cashier wasn’t invented yet and it was a totally different beast, but now with Cashier it takes a lot of the pain away by having a simple API.

But with selling products and subscriptions there are many other aspects you need to think about and it’s easy to get intimidated thinking about all the features you need. Or worse, where to even start?

I wanted to share my knowledge on the subject and teamed up with an experienced author, W. Jason Gilmore, to create a new book on the subject, Easy E-Commerce using Laravel and Stripe. Jason has authored numerous books and has also built a 10,000+ product online store and a SAAS for the interior design and architectural industries.

We wanted to create a fun hands-on book taking you from the start of a project all the way through implementing product sales, digital downloads, and subscriptions.

The book is written around a fictional lawn care company that has hired you. But Mr. McDew, the owner of the company, is a stickler and wants to be sure you know what you are doing. So after each project phase he drills you with questions about the implementation, and if you answer correctly you get to move on to the next phase.

No web development book would be complete without sample code and we include many code samples, plus a complete companion project. This allows you to use it not only as a learning resource but you can run the app locally to test and play around with.

Some of the highlights include:

  • You will receive all of the source code to a real-world online store
  • Comprehensive, step-by-step instructions showing you how to integrate Stripe into your Laravel application using Cashier.
  • Learn how to integrate Stripe in a fun, entertaining, and unintimidating fashion by following along with the creation of a real-world project for a fictional company.
  • You’ll learn about many of the concepts central to building an online store, such as how to build a product management interface, and a one-time URL generator for downloading electronic products.

We also cover other Stripe features such as the “buy now” modal window, validating credit card forms, adding coupons and discounts, swapping subscriptions, and even implementing custom Stripe web hooks for sending emails.

Save yourself time and learn how to implement Laravel and Stripe today.

Lessons learned from running a weekly newsletter

Yesterday marks the one-year anniversary of my weekly Laravel News newsletter. I managed to send a new issue almost every week and only missed two because of vacations. I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning, and still every week I’m learning something new about the science behind newsletters. In this post, I want to share some of the behind scenes on running the newsletter, a few stats, mistakes I made, and lessons learned during this first year. Continue reading “Lessons learned from running a weekly newsletter”

Geek Show – How to Write Technical Blog Posts Quickly and Easily

In the latest Five-Minute geek show, Matt covers his tips for writing technical blog posts quickly and easily.

I wrote a few of my own technical blog post tips but I like how he focuses on improving your speed. I’ve written more in the past year than I ever have in my life and I’m still slow. However, it is getting easier.

A tip that neither Matt nor I mentioned is, always remember you are the expert when writing about a technical topic. That doesn’t mean you have to dumb it down. Just pay attention to not miss any steps that you think everyone knows.

30 Day Blogging Challenge

Last month I took a 30 day blogging challenge. The goal was simple, write a new post every weekday for a month. Sounds easy right.

November had 20 weekdays and I managed to publish 16 posts. Which I honestly consider a success considering we had a holiday and I attended a conference. It’s the most posts in one month I’ve ever done on this site.

What I found most interesting is how much social media has taken over blogging. Instead of really thinking about an idea and putting into a long form post, I write quick 140 character summary and after 10 minutes it’s forever lost in the abyss.

Going forward from this I do want to get into a better blogging routine, not daily but at least two posts a week. I believe this will help me improve my writing and get better at writing longer form articles.

Have you ever tried a challenge like this? If so, what was your results? Would you be interested in doing it?

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.