My writing journey on Hashnode and my top 5 features in Hashnode

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Hey everyone.

I have been using Hashnode for about the 2 weeks now and it is almost indistinguishable from the app in 2018. This one is simply one of the most incredible tools I used. Let me tell you a small story before I talk about my favourite features.

How did I even end up using hashnode?

So, I know Mohd Shad Mirza from a meetup that I host( Fullstack Javascript Earth ) and Shad was one of the speakers in the meetup's early additions for which I am immensely thankful for.

Shad works at Hashnode and I was wondering how I should publish a book I have been writing on React for the last 2 years.

I wanted to reach more people and more beginners in general so they find my book interesting. And I felt writing one chapter a day in a blog like fashion and reach more people made more sense to me.

Asset_39.png Shad and Sandeep Panda helped me get my publishing workflow on Hashnode fixed and I have been publishing articles ever since on Hashnode.

My book is called Delightful React and you can read it over here . I am still releasing it one chapter a day. As of writing this post, I am 12 chapters done with 17 left to go.

I absolute love writing here and my book has been going on non-stop.

Why do I love using Hashnode?

Well, I thought about this a lot and the simple reason I love Hashnode is the same as the reason I love Github.

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It feels so natural that you should be able to have a small space on a platform as a person and write code or write about code without hassle. To me Github and Hashnode seem like siblings.

Anyway, let's get to the good stuff and then probably spend some time on the not so great stuff.

My top features of Hashnode

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1. Best in-class Editor

Best editor on a blogging platform without question. I was trying to embed a codesandbox yesterday in this chapter here. It was as simple as copy pasting the embed code(it was in HTML).

I was actually thinking of cross-posting all my chapters at another community site(rhymes with kev-dot-do) and I couldn't stand how much I had to read to embed a simple codesandbox iframe.

The countless custom liquid-tags and the different options they had quickly made me give up on it.

As of today, most good editors come with good syntax highlighting, markdown support and shortcuts like Bold, Italic etc, but being able to be distraction free is also important.

I don't want to have an AWS like control panel and read documentation to write a post. I just want to write a post.

2. Draft Sharing

I tend to have my drafts run over by a couple of people who are learning React, so they see how the article is shaping up and if they like the images etc. Live Collaboration is missing on Hashnode but Draft sharing is good enough for now. I am able to do just enough with it. Good feature.

A lot of sites have draft sharing. So it is not a unique features as such, but I like how quick it is and how it is helping me out.

3. Near-Instant image upload

Another solid feature. I like the image upload and how well it puts up. It is pretty quick and the preview mode also picks up the image quickly. Not much more to expand on this one.

4. Content ownership on my own domain

At this point, we are running away with everything. We haven't paid Hashnode anything but we have our domain with SSL configured with Hashnode customisation on subdomain (root or otherwise) of our own domain.

  • Ridiculously amazing feature given away for no money at all.
  • It's also pretty quick. So whatever custom SSL certificate generation service + assignment code that they wrote, it is doing it's job well.

I am not sure if there are in security implications on this one, but if you know any, let me know in the comments.

5. Customising home page with Pages

This is a neat feature. If I am going to give a subdomain to Hashnode, I want to be able to customise it. At this point, customisation is pretty limited, but it's a start and I can see in the Feature Requests roadmap, that they are working on some really good features right now.

Other features that I love

  1. Preview is right beside the Writing area
  2. Syntax highlighting is pretty solid
  3. Community is strong here and growing
  4. It also has an API. At this point I don't understand how every single thing is free.

It's free, so I don't want to complain too much

There are some points which nag me with every chapter, but I don't want to focus on it too much because for 80-90% of the time, I am having a good time over here. But having said that, I don't want to just praise them all the time. There are some issues that I face regularly and let's gently talk about them.

So, What can be better?

1. More features on homepage

A bit more. More page templates (able to pick a series as a page or make a collection of pages independent from series,.. I don't know. 😅 A free user has a lot to ask to but little to offer. )

2. 10 different Reactions for the same activity

I don't understand this to be honest. 10 different reactions for the same behaviour. They all are like a Facebook like button. I can understand that 10 also acts as a ceiling cap on the number of reactions you give it, but the different symbols? I don't know. Seems weird.

3. Article Cover is docked away

Article Cover is an integral section of the writing area and it should actually probably be a part of the writing area itself and be docked to the top. title, content, featuredImage are generally the most important aspects of writing an article. So it being in a sidebar, makes it a little annoying for me because I change it about 3-5 times as I write an article

4. There are some bugs when syntax highlighting is used with ordered lists

A pretty big issue for me, but I simply use unordered lists with code snippets now. Syntax highlighting breaks often when used in conjunction with some of the markdown. And I double checked often, the markdown was perfectly valid.

5. Missing scheduled publish

I am eagerly waiting for this one. I think it's being worked on right now and I can't wait for this.

Anyway, I guess what I am saying is

I am immensely thankful for Hashnode as a free service that allows me to have a community and a chance to write great content easily on it. And I want to thank them for their hardwork as they are giving all of this out for free without ads or any payments whatsoever.

Given that they are still a startup it's easy,

  • to cave in, and put that little ad somewhere at the top, or at the bottom and just ruin everything and load everything 1000ms late.
  • Or you know put all of my content behind a paywall one fine Wednesday
  • or just give up putting pu with all these Bhargavs asking for more freebies

But they haven't and they are doing a seriously good job. So this is a just a small tribute with a request for even more features for free and more encouragement to them to continue what they are doing because rewards are not far way.

Cheers!

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