Cory Doctorow's craphound.com

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  1. Very cool idea! I'd switched to Scrivener on my Mac after confusing my non-versioned text files on a PC too many times. This sounds like a great alternative.

    Comment by shaydchara — February 13, 2009 @ 7:26 am

  2. Very cool idea that I will play with. But one thing, why Flashbake hosted on something like github? It seems like a good fit, an open source program that interacts with git.

    Comment by John Shimek — February 13, 2009 @ 9:28 am

  3. I started to use git manually. One of the problems I had is I wanted to use the diff options to see text changes. But I have to use plain text or something similar. Do you just ignore this feature or do you use something where you can see the plain text differences when you write?

    Comment by Rich Vazquez — February 13, 2009 @ 10:28 am

  4. Rich: Cory mentioned above that he uses a plain-text based format most of the time.

    There are some useful plain-text based formats for writing. I often use reStructuredText (rst2a.com has a stylish intro for the non-coder) for that purpouse.

    I know of a trick that should work with newer, richer formats, that you probably even integrate into flashbake. The .docx format of Word (standard in Word 07 and available as a plugin to earlier versions) and the .odf format of OpenOffice both are zipped wrappers around a collection of files including an XML of the actual text. (That is, they are just about exactly like any other .zip file.) What this means is that a tool like flashbake should be able to unzip the .docx/.odf into a directory structure to record more meaningful commits that show some almost-plain-text differences. If you want to get a point-in-time copy of the file you just need to zip the contents back up into the original filename...

    Comment by Max Battcher — February 13, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

  5. [...] Cory Doctorow’s craphound.com >> Blog Archive » Flashbake: Free version-control for writers... For any writer looking to create a digital record of everything that they write, this looks really cool. (tags: writing software backup archive git sourcecontrol) [...]

    Pingback by links for 2009-02-19 | Yostivanich.com — February 19, 2009 @ 6:05 am

  6. Funny, I started writing a book 2 days ago (using pyroom) and I instinctively set up a git repo and a cron job that pushes my changes to my server. Synchronicity.

    Comment by Kasper Souren — February 20, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

  7. [...] ► Cory Doctorow’s craphound.com » News [...]

    Pingback by This Writing Life » Blog Archive » ★ Recording the Novel, Word by Fricking Word — February 23, 2009 @ 2:21 am

  8. Very cool but... what's the advantage over a wiki? A wiki stores the history version of each file, it's easy to set up and can embed visual and edition tools right within.

    Comment by Utopiah — February 23, 2009 @ 3:06 am

  9. Well, a Wiki isn't as nice for entering text, for starters. The way this works now is, I just maintain my existing text-files and git and the scripts manage the changelog for them. I don't want visual tools, I want the EMACS keybindings I've used for 15 years and the full-suite of in-editor plugins and macros that are part of my writing practice already.

    Comment by Cory Doctorow — February 23, 2009 @ 3:10 am

  10. I struggle with many things, and version tracking my writing is one of them. As my first request for a plugin is one that takes a shot with a webcam (Mac, so iSight builtin). Just more archiving. :)

    Comment by LDJessee — February 23, 2009 @ 1:26 pm

  11. Just listened to your TwiT podcast appearance, and thought you missed a point in the DTV that flashbake is the exponent of.
    When VCR's become obsolete, and the providers have de-facto control over the media player, who's going to have the digital copies of the crap that i don't track?
    The BBC is transmitting on BBC7 and other channels stuff that it got back from the void with its 'amnesty' and re-mastered for re-broadcast. Lost Goon shows, and other old radio are now back in the archive. If you love a show, and you cannot keep a permanent copy because you don't own your media player....

    Just a quick FYC (for your consideration)

    Comment by Tim — February 25, 2009 @ 4:51 pm

  12. [...] spent the entire morning getting Flashbake working on my laptop.  Previously I was using a combination of Scrivener and OS X’s Time [...]

    Pingback by Flashbake - Very Cool | Speak Softly, Carry a Candle — February 27, 2009 @ 9:41 am

  13. [...] Dit allemaal zonder dat de schrijver manuele back-ups hoeft te maken. Maar er is meer, aldus Cory Doctorow: Every 15 minutes, Flashbake looks at any files that you ask it to check (I have it looking at all [...]

    Pingback by Ongevraagd Advies #13 Teksteditie in een digitaal tijdperk | KRAAI — February 28, 2009 @ 12:18 am

  14. I'm trying to work out what format you use for your text files - and this is the nearest-ish article google found.

    I use emacs for coding and want to use it for everything else, but don't want to type HTML or something equally nasty. HTML is for computers to read - I am not one. I will look at rst, but my blog will be using redcloth (probably). What would you recomment, Cory? What do you use?

    Thanks

    Comment by Francis Fish — March 8, 2009 @ 8:55 am

  15. I've been using git (manually, without cool add-ons like this) for nearly a year (and subversion for a year or so before that) to track this kind of thing--though not as automatically--and it's been a great experience, and it works really great. Basically, at this point my entire text-based digital existence gets stored in git repositories. Config files for emacs (and other programs), wikis using the ikiwiki engine, todolists (via org-mode, but same deal), and so forth. I even replicate my MailDir inside of a git repo (which works oh so much better than IMAP).

    Despite how cool version control is (and it is), the distributed nature of git is what seals the deal for me. I have clones of my repositories on my desktop and my laptop, as well as on a server. So I can bounce changesets between computers and servers as I need to. Running multiple machines is no longer a headache. Being out in the wild without my machine is fine as long as I have a thumb drive with putty on it.

    re #14 Francis Fish: I use Markdown. Between the HTML converters, the plugins for most blogging applications, and the ability to translate it to LaTeX>PDF with Maruku it is made out of win.

    Comment by tycho garen — April 4, 2009 @ 5:50 am

  16. [...] of ebook with sources, notes, and links baked right in. As Cory Doctorow recently described in the context of Flashbake, readers could watch the writer/journalist construct the narrative in real time. The New Yorker [...]

    Pingback by Is Now The Time For Magazines to Launch Book Divisions? | INDEX // mb — April 20, 2009 @ 1:03 am

  17. [...] Primarily, software developers use version control systems like Git and Subversion to archive, manage, roll back, and merge code over time. But you can use version control for any kind of file that’s plain text—whether it’s code, creative writing, a to-do list, or notes. That’s exactly what science fiction author and blogger Cory Doctorow uses it for, but he didn’t want to manually commit files by hand, like coders do. In response to conversations with Doctorow, programmer Thomas Gideon cooked up Flashbake, a simplified interface to Git that runs in the background and commits versions quietly as Doctorow writes, no intervention required. (Here’s the whole story of Flashbake in Cory’s words.) [...]

    Pingback by McColley.net » Blog Archive » Flashbake Automates Version Control for (Nerdy) Writers [Version Control] — April 29, 2009 @ 8:32 am

  18. [...] Primarily, software developers use version control systems like Git and Subversion to archive, manage, roll back, and merge code over time. But you can use version control for any kind of file that’s plain text—whether it’s code, creative writing, a to-do list, or notes. That’s exactly what science fiction author and blogger Cory Doctorow uses it for, but he didn’t want to manually commit files by hand, like coders do. In response to conversations with Doctorow, programmer Thomas Gideon cooked up Flashbake, a simplified interface to Git that runs in the background and commits versions quietly as Doctorow writes, no intervention required. (Here’s the whole story of Flashbake in Cory’s words.) [...]

    Pingback by Flashbake Automates Version Control for (Nerdy) Writers [Version Control] | My Blog Channel — April 29, 2009 @ 8:44 am

  19. [...] Primarily, software developers use version control systems like Git and Subversion to archive, manage, roll back, and merge code over time. But you can use version control for any kind of file that’s plain text—whether it’s code, creative writing, a to-do list, or notes. That’s exactly what science fiction author and blogger Cory Doctorow uses it for, but he didn’t want to manually commit files by hand, like coders do. In response to conversations with Doctorow, programmer Thomas Gideon cooked up Flashbake, a simplified interface to Git that runs in the background and commits versions quietly as Doctorow writes, no intervention required. (Here’s the whole story of Flashbake in Cory’s words.) [...]

    Pingback by Flashbake Automates Version Control for (Nerdy) Writers [Version Control] · TechBlogger — April 29, 2009 @ 8:59 am

  20. [...] Primarily, software developers use version control systems like Git and Subversion to archive, manage, roll back, and merge code over time. But you can use version control for any kind of file that’s plain text—whether it’s code, creative writing, a to-do list, or notes. That’s exactly what science fiction author and blogger Cory Doctorow uses it for, but he didn’t want to manually commit files by hand, like coders do. In response to conversations with Doctorow, programmer Thomas Gideon cooked up Flashbake, a simplified interface to Git that runs in the background and commits versions quietly as Doctorow writes, no intervention required. (Here’s the whole story of Flashbake in Cory’s words.) [...]

    Pingback by Flashbake Automates Version Control for (Nerdy) Writers [Version Control] | NerdNewz.Net — April 29, 2009 @ 9:40 am

  21. [...] Primarily, software developers use version control systems like Git and Subversion to archive, manage, roll back, and merge code over time. But you can use version control for any kind of file that’s plain text—whether it’s code, creative writing, a to-do list, or notes. That’s exactly what science fiction author and blogger Cory Doctorow uses it for, but he didn’t want to manually commit files by hand, like coders do. In response to conversations with Doctorow, programmer Thomas Gideon cooked up Flashbake, a simplified interface to Git that runs in the background and commits versions quietly as Doctorow writes, no intervention required. (Here’s the whole story of Flashbake in Cory’s words.) [...]

    Pingback by infoyourway.com » Flashbake Automates Version Control for (Nerdy) Writers [Version Control] — April 29, 2009 @ 10:27 am

  22. [...] Primarily, software developers use version control systems like Git and Subversion to archive, manage, roll back, and merge code over time. But you can use version control for any kind of file that’s plain text—whether it’s code, creative writing, a to-do list, or notes. That’s exactly what science fiction author and blogger Cory Doctorow uses it for, but he didn’t want to manually commit files by hand, like coders do. In response to conversations with Doctorow, programmer Thomas Gideon cooked up Flashbake, a simplified interface to Git that runs in the background and commits versions quietly as Doctorow writes, no intervention required. (Here’s the whole story of Flashbake in Cory’s words.) [...]

    Pingback by Flashbake Automates Version Control for (Nerdy) Writers [Version Control] « Coolbeans — April 29, 2009 @ 10:52 am

  23. [...] Primarily, software developers use version control systems like Git and Subversion to archive, manage, roll back, and merge code over time. But you can use version control for any kind of file that’s plain text—whether it’s code, creative writing, a to-do list or notes. That’s exactly what science fiction author and blogger Cory Doctorow uses it for, but he didn’t want to manually commit files by hand, like coders do. In response to conversations with Doctorow, programmer Thomas Gideon cooked up Flashbake, a simplified interface to Git that runs in the background and commits versions quietly as Doctorow writes, no intervention required. (Here’s the whole story of Flashbake in Cory’s words.) [...]

    Pingback by Flashbake Automates Version Control For (Nerdy) Writers | Lifehacker Australia — April 29, 2009 @ 1:29 pm

  24. [...] Primarily, software developers use version control systems like Git and Subversion to archive, manage, roll back, and merge code over time. But you can use version control for any kind of file that’s plain text—whether it’s code, creative writing, a to-do list, or notes. That’s exactly what science fiction author and blogger Cory Doctorow uses it for, but he didn’t want to manually commit files by hand, like coders do. In response to conversations with Doctorow, programmer Thomas Gideon cooked up Flashbake, a simplified interface to Git that runs in the background and commits versions quietly as Doctorow writes, no intervention required. (Here’s the whole story of Flashbake in Cory’s words.) [...]

    Pingback by Flashbake Automates Version Control for (Nerdy) Writers [Version Control] - 1713th Edition | Technology Revealed — April 29, 2009 @ 5:45 pm

  25. [...] but he didn’t want to manually commit files by hand, like c&#111&#100&#101rs do. In response to conversations with Doctorow,&#32&#112&#114ogrammer Thomas Gideon cooked up Flashbake, a simp&#108&#105&#102ied interface to Git that runs in the background a&#110&#100&#32commits versions quietly as Doctorow writes, no in&#116&#101&#114vention required. (Here’s the whole story of Flashbake in Cory’s words.) [...]

    Pingback by Flashbake Automates Version Control for (Nerdy) Writers | MashTech — April 29, 2009 @ 10:23 pm

  26. [...] Trapani’s post on Flashbake led me to Cory Doctorow’s discussion: Every 15 minutes, Flashbake looks at any files that you ask it to check (I have it looking at all [...]

    Pingback by blips : draft management — May 1, 2009 @ 6:36 am

  27. [...] meant to address the problem of retaining an archival record of the production of digital texts. Cory Doctorow [...]

    Pingback by Excursus : Flashbake or Git Gateway Technology? — May 13, 2009 @ 5:55 pm

  28. [...] @atoponce That's sounds like a great way to backup configuration files. Reminds me the Flashbake program. http://craphound.com/?p=2171 [...]

    Pingback by xprop's status on Monday, 01-Jun-09 04:01:34 UTC - Identi.ca — May 31, 2009 @ 8:01 pm

  29. [...] Dit allemaal zonder dat de schrijver manuele back-ups hoeft te maken. Maar er is meer, aldus Cory Doctorow: Every 15 minutes, Flashbake looks at any files that you ask it to check (I have it looking at all [...]

    Pingback by Ongevraagd Advies #13: Teksteditie in een digitaal tijdperk | Villanella — July 27, 2009 @ 5:25 am

  30. [...] a little by Cory Doctorow’s post, ‘Flashbake: Free version-control for writers using git’, about his use of scripts to [...]

    Pingback by Git Commit Hook Script – Word Count and ‘Now Playing’ « fejalish.com — July 9, 2011 @ 9:51 am

  31. [...] LaTeX (OK, I’m old and lazy, so I’m actually using LyX), and as every proper nerd (and also as award-winning science-fiction author Cory Doctorow) I’m version controlling it using git. From the very beginning I knew I want to watch it [...]

    Pingback by Watch things grow « GYP@BalaBit — March 30, 2012 @ 5:22 am

  32. i read ur book little brother, & loved it . i was totally inspired by everything. im trying to get in2 this scene but i need tech answers and help. what do i read? who do i talk 2? can i ask u?

    Comment by J3r1m1ah — June 16, 2012 @ 9:30 am

  33. [...] http://craphound.com/?p=2171 – Cory Doctorow talking about life tracking and Git [...]

    Pingback by Show Notes – Monday Oct. 18th, 2012 » Technocolorshow — October 15, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

  34. Was thinking about flashbake again today and read through the comments. Thought it might be interesting to belatedly point out that I actually built the tool I hinted at above. Called musdex (http://pythonhosted.org/musdex/), which is an intentionally obscure old Zork universe magic word, it's a tool you can set up in pre/post hooks to auto-unzip and format things like Word's docx or OO's odt files (and Celtx files and more) into a source-controlled directory. Some people may find it a nice side-by-side tool.

    Just noticed I've still not written Git integration documentation, but that is fairly straightforward to write.

    Comment by Max Battcher — September 7, 2013 @ 5:51 pm

  35. Documented using musdex with git, if anyone is interested (documentation link in #34). I may have missed something, so feedback would be appreciated.

    Comment by Max Battcher — September 11, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

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