Markdown 1.0b4 and Me

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004 @ 1:27 am | Internet

I’m sure a large number of the folks reading this have already heard about John Gruber’s Markdown, but I felt like adding my own 2 cents.

My usual writing process is to open my weblog entry stationary in BBEdit, add the new content as XHTML, sanity-check the syntax and the content, and copy the content over to the MovableType interface.

The first few posts I wrote in Markdown used a similar workflow — the only difference was that I formatted the content as Markdown instead of XHTML. Before posting, I ran as a Unix filter inside of BBEdit, converting my content to XHTML.

I composed this way for two reasons. First, I wanted to keep copies of my postings on my hard drive. Second, I wanted to validate the syntax before I posted to the web.

Tonight’s postings are the first time I’ve composed solely in Markdown and posted directly to MT, selecting “Markdown with SmartyPants” as my Text Formatting option.

Before using Markdown, I didn’t even use MT’s Convert Line Break option — I felt like it only replaced about 5% of the XHTML tags in my postings, so it really wasn’t worth it. Markdown, on the other hand, replaces almost all of tags in my postings with syntax that mirrors the way I write emails. At this time, the only XHTML tagx I’ve needed to hand-code are the <acronym> and the <blockquote> tags (the latter so I could include the cite attribute). One of the benefits of using a plain-text email client, I guess.

I’m still writing in BBEdit and saving my entries to my hard drive, but now I can easily read them in BBEdit (or emacs or whatever) instead of firing up Safari.

If you’re interested in Markdown and it’s development path (it’s still beta, after all), check out the Markdown mailing list. There are some very good discussions over there about proposed changes and additions to the Markdown syntax. Granted, the list was announced less than a month ago, but the discussions tend to be well thought out and respectful of differing opinions. Actually, some of the discussions on the list echo John’s story about changing his mind.

Thus, Point No. 1: When I end up changing my mind on a matter of opinion, it usually is not because I had the facts wrong; it’s because I was looking at the wrong facts.

Funny how that works sometimes, no?

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