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There’s plenty of ways to blog today, but one has caught the imagination of bloggers and developers more than any this year: Ghost. And today, it’s finally ready for everyone to try out.
We tried out Ghost when it was first released to Kickstarter backers a few weeks back, and found it to be a brilliantly simple way to blog in Markdown — that is, once you get it installed. That last point is far simpler today, thanks to the efforts of Ghost’s partners including our whole Envato team.
Here’s the tools you need to get a new Ghost-powered blog today:
If you’ve been following our articles for years, it’d be hard to not have heard of ZURB, the team behind a number of awesome yet simple web apps. There’s Reel for simple presentations, Axe for critiquing designs from your iPad, Chop for getting feedback on your code snippets, Strike for simple online todo lists, and more in their lineup of free web apps. Then, there’s their pro suite of Influence, Verify, Solidify, and Notable to help you present, get feedback on, and test your designs and mockups. ZURB also is the team behind Foundation, the responsive front-end framework that makes building modern sites much simpler.
With all those apps and tools already under their belt, the ZURB team decided to extend their reach a bit earlier this year when they bought out the design community Forrst. They’ve just released a private version of their fully redesigned Forrst, and it’s finally apparent how it fits into their vision.
Wunderlist is easily one of the greatest simple todo list apps ever made. It’s one of the few todo list apps that most computer users would have almost definitely have heard of before. But then, it took off so well because it was free — combine that with native apps for almost every platform, including PCs with less todo list app options than the Mac and mobile platforms, and it seemed unstoppable.
That was only supposed to be the first stepping stone for the 6Wunderkinder team, though. They originally intended Wunderlist to be a basic free todo list app, then to follow up with Wunderkit as their pro collaboration app. That plan got scuttled, though, and instead they doubled down on Wunderlist, adding pro accounts and team features. The pro accounts brought task assignment, subtasks, and new backgrounds back in April, but with this month’s updates, Wunderlist now makes perfect sense as a great team collaboration app without making their simple todo list app any more difficult to use.
Early last November, designer and writer John O’Nolan published his idea of a lighter WordPress fork focused on writing: Ghost. The original concept page showed a beautifully redesigned dashboard that focused on the stats and info that matter to writers, combined with a post editor that let you write in Markdown and preview the live post at the same time. The concept took the web by storm, racking up hundreds of comments on Hacker News and beyond — and even drawing interest from WordPress’ creator, Matt Mullenweg.
Nearly 11 months and a wildly successful Kickstarter later, and backers finally have the first beta of Ghost to power their blogs. It’s a Node.js and SQLite powered CMS that’s been coded from scratch instead of the original idea of a WordPress fork, and it’s already a totally different blogging experience than anything you’ve ever used. It’s attracted thousands of individual backers, as well as corporate sponsors from Envato and Code School all the way to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (of all surprising things). It’s easily the most exciting thing in blogging right now.
Box is one of those enterprise-focused startups that’s never made tons of sense from a consumer perspective. They’ve offered generous amounts of free storage just for signing in with their mobile apps, but that’s never been enough to get most of us to move away from Dropbox — especially since, originally, their desktop sync app wasn’t included for free. That hans’t stopped them from being the document sync tool of choice for many businesses, where the clunky UI didn’t matter as much as did the security and syncing features.
Then, there’s the apps, that great equalizer that stands to make or break any platform. Most of our consumer mobile apps are integrated with Dropbox, not Box, but on the web, Box has a solid library of apps that let it do much more than just sync files. It’s had a basic office-type app for some time now, along with a Mac and PC app that syncs Office document changes in real-time. But now, it’s going even further, with a brand new app aimed to compete in the collabortive writing space that’s taking off this year.
With Microsoft’s former Office VP Steven Sinofsky now on the Box team, it seems they’re more than ready to take on Microsoft — as well as Google and other online collaboration tools. And this time, they’ve got an app that looks nice enough, it’ll likely attract more than just enterprise customers.
Two years ago, Evernote bought out Skitch, the popular Mac screenshot annotation tool, and promptly ruined it. Perhaps it wasn’t that bad, but most Skitch fans were frustrated over the new version’s lack of features, and it took quite some time for Evernote to win us back to Skitch.
But now, they’ve taken Skitch’s best annotation features, mixed them with the original Evernote web clipper and their Clearly extension (which itself was another purchased app, Readable), and made the best tool to save online content yet. The brand-new Evernote Web Web Clipper 6 for Chrome is amazing, whether you’re wanting to save text-only copies of articles to Evernote or want to annotate sites and share them with others.
Our friends at Quote Roller are running a giveaway this week that you might be interested in: they’re giving away two iPad Minis, one to their existing users and another to new users who try out their app this week. Quote Roller was designed to help you be productive, no matter where you are, and they have a brand-new iOS app update coming this summer that’ll make it an even better on-the-go companion for you. And, they’re celebrating its release by giving away the iPad Minis.
You just might be able to try out Quote Roller, find how much time it’ll save you, and then get an iPad Mini for free to make you even more productive on the go!
But why are you still here? Head over to the Quote Roller site, sign up for a free trial, then like the Quote Roller Facebook page and share the giveaway photo with your Facebook friends to get entered in the giveaway. That’s not too much work for a chance at a free iPad Mini, now is it? And hey — you’ll likely find that Quote Roller will save you time and keep you from having to work too hard on making quotes and proposals for your clients, even on the go with their new iOS app.
Whether you’re starting a new company, are working on your own personal side projects, or trying to manage a team at your existing firms, there’s a ton of web apps out there to help you out. From online code management tools to dashboards to see how your team’s doing and services that’ll take much of the work out of building new apps, it seems there’s a web service for everything these days. The only problem is, they can all add up to be fairly expensive over time.
You don’t see many discounts or bundles on web apps, but this week, the folks at Hacker Monthly — a magazine version of the popular tech forum Hacker News — have put together quite the nice bundle of web apps for anyone who’s developing web apps: the Hacker Bundle. It’s got Geckoboard to make a status dashboard for your team, BugHurd to track your app’s bugs, Beanstalk to privately host your code in Git or Mercurial, Twilio to add voice calls and SMS to your app, Mandrill to add email to your app, Visual Web Optimizer to make sure your app is running great, and more!
Most of the subscriptions included are for 3-6 months, and all together would cost $1500. In the Hacker Bundle, though, you’ll get them all for just $37 — less than the price of just the Beanstalk plan.
If you’ve considered using any of these web apps in your startup, be sure to check out the full bundle of web apps within the next week or so while the bundle’s still live!
When Google announced it would be shutting down its Reader service on July 1 of this year, it left many customers of the popular RSS service feeling stranded. Many of the most popular alternatives, such as Feedly and The Old Reader, have had to beef up server capacity and bandwidth.
Meanwhile, other company’s, such as Digg, are planning their own upstarts to fill the void. In the meantime, customers have some time to experiment with various services and decide on which they wish to land. One of the newest is CommaFeed, which aims to be a complete alternative to Google Reader, but can also do a whole lot more in addition to being a simple web app. (more…)