Thoughts on Markdown


Aug 5, 2011

Markdown is not new. It’s nearly seven years old at this point, which makes it about one hundred and fifty Internet Years old. AOL was probably still relevant when Markdown was first created, which tells you something. [1]

I’ve resisted even trying Markdown until the past week or so. It wasn’t difficult or complicated, of course. By its very nature, Markdown is designed to be simple. Simple to use, simple to read, simple to edit. So, after much unnecessary procrastination, I have been writing almost exclusively in Markdown for a week now. Specifically, I’m using the MultiMarkdown variant. [2]

Learning to Edit

I’ve always hated editing. My writing process consists of random fragments of thought, followed by a short burst of putting things in some semblance of order, and then hitting publish. I hate editing. Or, I used to hate editing. Writing in Markdown keeps my work much cleaner and easier to read, which means it’s infinitely easier to edit. I won’t suddenly start churning out masterpieces of written word, but I am learning to edit. That’s a start.

Footnotes FTW

Footnotes are something that I’ve wanted to add to this site for ages. Due to sheer laziness, I’ve never gotten around to setting them up. Sure, there are plugins that handle footnotes with ease… but I install the fewest plugins that I can reasonably get away with. Less plugins means a faster loading site.[3] As much as I like footnotes, you don’t come here just to read them, do you?

New workflows will be created

For now, I’m writing in nvALT, which has a neat MultiMarkdown preview window. I can write until my fingers bleed, and then hit CMD+CTRL+P to see what my drivel looks like after conversion to HTML. If I’m satisfied, I can click View Source, press CMD+A, CMD+C, hop over to a WordPress window, press CMD+V to paste the contents into the editor.

So while the actually writing and editing is very simple, the process of getting the HTML to my site is not quite perfect. I’m sure there’s a great way to automate this process… perhaps I’ll finally need to look into Keyboard Maestro.[4]

  1. We old-timers used to dial in to AOL to access the internet. We had to tie up a phone line to get online. We had phone lines in our house. Damnit I’m old.  ↩
  2. One of my tasks at work is creating email newsletters. Since email clients are generally awful, I have to use tables in the designs. MultiMarkdown has the ability to create tables pretty easily, compared to writing out the HTML.  ↩
  3. The extreme absence of clutter and crap on this site helps, too.  ↩
  4. Supposedly the be-all and end-all of awesome Mac utilities for super nerds.  ↩

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