Some notes on how I’ve connected Micro.blog to my existing Squarespace site.
I’ve enjoyed using Micro.blog for the last couple months. It’s developing as an interesting writing and sharing platform and it’s already become my first destination for finding new content.
There are several ways to set up your Micro.blog feed. The easiest way is to use Micro.blog hosting. Everything just works for $5/month. If you don't have an existing site, this is the way to go.
The next best option is to use Wordpress. The Wordpress APIs connect seamlessly with Micro.blog and while it’s not as turnkey as Micro.blog hosting, it seems pretty straightforward. In fact, Manton updated the documentation about using Wordpress with Micro.blog yesterday.
But one of the interesting things about Micro.blog is that you can use it with pretty much any blogging platform as long as it has an RSS feed, so I decided to see if I could connect my existing Squarespace hosted site to Micro.blog. I’ve had my Squarespace site for almost 10 years. I'm happy with Squarespace so I don’t really want to move Sketchbook B over to another service like Wordpress.
For anyone interested in using Squarespace with Micro.blog, I wanted to detail how I’ve configured my Micro.blog account with Squarespace and talk about two options for how to set it up and my workflow for posting to Micro.blog.
Option 1: Add a new blog page
I added a new blog page to my Squarespace site and named it “Microblog.” It’s just a standard Squarespace blog page, so you can add text to the header and footer. My microblog lives at http://sketchbookb.com/micro.
Then I headed over to Micro.blog and added the new RSS feed. On the Micro.blog web interface, you edit these settings on the Account page, in the Feeds section. I originally tried to add http://www.sketchbookb.com/micro/?format=rss to Micro.blog, which worked, but didn’t seem to work consistently. After a little experimentation and some research, it seems that http://sketchbookb.squarespace.com/micro/?format=rss works better as the feed address.*
And that's it. Now, anything I post to my Squarespace microblog page posts to Micro.blog.
Option 2: Use a category on your main blog
I was also able to connect my main blog to Micro.blog. Any post I tag with the category “micro” is added to Micro.blog. All I had to do was add https://sketchbookb.squarespace.com/journal/?category=micro&format=rss as a feed in Micro.blog. Since I typically post longer content to my blog, Micro.blog pulls just the title and provides a link to the post. It’s a pretty elegant solution.
Micro.blog lets you add multiple feeds to your account. So I have both option 1 and option 2 set up. I use the microblog page for my twitter-like posts. And if I want to share one of my longer essays — like this one — on Micro.blog, I just tag it with “micro” and the title and link are posted automatically.
Once it’s configured, everything pretty much just works. I post to Squarespace and it shows up on Micro.blog (with cross-posting to Twitter). Some other things that just work:
- The Squarespace Blog app works fine for posting on the go.**
- If you add an image to the post, it shows a preview on Micro.blog without any issues.
- Posts without titles work fine, at least with the template I'm using.
- Adding emoji works well, which is great because emoji tags are awesome.
- Formatting for inline links, bold and italics is really easy.
- If you change a post with 24 hours, it edits it in the Micro.blog feed.
- Cross posting to Twitter works great. I didn’t think it would be useful, but it completely is. I don’t post directly to Twitter anymore. All of my posts start on my own site.
What doesn’t work.
Connecting Squarespace and Micro.blog works well, but there are some minor tradeoffs. Since you are hosting your own feed and Micro.blog doesn't have API access for Squarespace, you can’t start new posts from the Micro.blog app. Instead, you start your post on your Squarespace site, and then do replies and engagement in the Micro.blog app. It’s an extra step. Some other issues:
- There isn’t a character counter in the web interface or iOS app. So you can’t easily tell how close you are to 280 characters.
- Sometimes there is a short delay between when you add the post to your site and when it appears on Micro.blog.
- If you want to have a list of all your Micro.blog posts someplace on your Squarespace site using a Summary block… yeah… that’s not going to work. Squarespace doesn’t really know what to do with a post in that context with no title or summary.
- Because Squarespace doesn’t have an API or any hooks into services like IFTTT, you can’t automate some processes. For example, I’d love to copy my Instagram posts to the microblog using IFTTT, but that doesn’t seem possible.***
My workflow for posting to Micro.blog is simple. I add a new blog post via the Squarespace web interface or using the Squarespace Blog iOS app. The microblog post has no title and consists of 280 characters or less. For a photo blog post, I add a picture to the post.
If I want to read other user posts or comment, I do that from within the Micro.blog app on my phone or on the Mac.
This workflow is more complicated than just posting and responding in one app like I used to do with Twitteriffic or like I could do with Micro.blog if I had a different hosting set up. But I prefer having all my content originate from Sketchbook B so for me, it’s worth the minor inconvenience.
Squarespace and open social
One last thought… I really wish that Squarespace would reintroduce an API that allows for interconnectivity with a new class of open social networks like Micro.blog that rely on RSS, JSON feeds, webmentions and more. I’ve been using Squarespace long enough, that I remember when they had an API. If open social networks take off — and I realize that’s a big if — expanded support for microblogging and connections to supporting apps and services are the kind of premium features that a product like Squarespace could offer.
It's still early
Micro.blog is still in the early days, with Manton having just recently opened signups to the general public. The service is evolving in really interesting and fascinating ways.**** As Micro.blog changes, it's possible my Squarespace setup will become less than ideal, but for now, I'm sticking with my Squarespace site and I'm happy that I've been able to integrate the two services.
* Squarespace recommends that for podcasts, it's best to use the username.squarespace.com structure for that feed. I'm not sure why, but I guess the same logic applies to Micro.blog.
** I use the iOS app. There is an Android app as well.
*** I have a couple of ideas of how I might work around this, but it's going to be complex.
**** I 💚 Emoji tags
Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. He's currently in the middle of a project to design a new shirt a week for an entire year. Follow Bob on Twitter, Instagram and Micro.Blog.