My Markdown Writing Fetish

Markdown Fetish

Okay, I may have a fetish for writing Markdown. See Tea’z Markdown Post

Plain text is my world, my Shangri-La. Maybe that’s another reason I prefer tweets to status updates.

I generally view the web from an i- or mac- screen. So these days, I roll my blog posts with three tools that I highly recommend. They truely simplify my life. If you live in an Apple world, perhaps they’ll work for you too .

Dropbox

Between Google Drive and Dropbox, DB is my sweet spot. It handles the things I need it to — and that means .md files. I want my Markdown files to live somewhere that I can access anywhere. I want to start writing from iOS and pick it up again from OS X. Dropbox does the job while handling version control nicely. Dropbox is the glue for my blogging experience.

Byword App

I discovered Byword not too long ago. It’s indispensible for my mobile writing needs. In fact, I just recently replaced my Mail app in the dock with Byword. That simple step also removed the distraction of watching badge icon counts accumulate. No longer do I feel compelled to immediately deal with each new email. Now I see Byword in my dock and feel the desire to write.

Byword is all about Markdown. Above the keyboard in edit mode (just tap anywhere in an open document) is a special row containing some of Markdown’s often used syntax :

  • tab
  • header
  • link
  • image
  • list
  • emphasis
  • undo
  • left / right arrows to move cursor (Of course you can just tap where you want the cursor, but the arrows help for precise positioning.) A recent software update also makes tap for cursor positioning much more responsive in fact.
  • slide the Markdown keyboard row to view word count, character count, and word count plus character count.
  • slide the keyboard down to view the Markdown document and then slide from the right edge leftward to see a preview screen of the formatted version

Now besides purchasing the app from the iTune’s store, there’s an additional in-app purchase option that enables an advanced publishing feature. With this feature, you can publish a post to :

  • Blogger
  • Evernote
  • Scriptogr.am
  • Tumblr
  • WordPress

This is a convenience, though it’s not how I roll.

The coolest part is the Markdown focus and saving into Dropbox. You set the synch to Dropbox during the initial set-up.

This brings us to my third tool :

BBEdit

This is my favorite text editor for the mac. It’s a tank that just plows through plain text and HTML. BBEdit is always running on my mac and never fails me.

There’s also a nice script that I use within BBEdit which converts Markdown to valid HTML. It saves me a few steps.

So I can pick up a Markdown file that I’ve been working on from Byword App on the go, switch to BBEdit and continue writing from a larger screen. Thank you Dropbox!

There’s a Byword editor for the Mac, but I’m not about to use it when I have the toolbelt that BBEdit offers – you know what I mean?

BBEdit is the bonafide master of plain text manipulation for the mac. The thing just never crashes, no matter what I throw at it.

So from BBEdit, I wrap up a blog and decide whether to convert it to HTML or leave it. Many blogging platforms support Markdown these days. WordPress for instance has a nice WP-Markdown plugin that enables Markdown for Pages, Posts and/or Comments. Tumblr has a Markdown posting option too. Oh, I love seeing Markdown supported in so many places.

Markdown removes the tags of HTML while still conveying meaning to anyone reading it in its raw format. Thank you John Gruber.

It makes writing enjoyable because the syntax is minimal and so usable in most scenarios.

Picking Up in BBEdit

I just picked up writing this post in BBEdit from Byword – so seamless.

I’ll probably convert it to HTML and massage it a bit to add some additional divs and classes from the Bootstrap framework (we can’t forget about mobile layouts).

I’ve discovered that this workflow provides me with many benefits. Besides the seamless transition of writing blogs from a mobile screen to a laptop screen, the fact that the document is saved in Dropbox, means that I can get to it anywhere. By avoiding the GUI menus of blog platform editors, I can tweak to my heart’s content, consistently, anywhere. If a blogging platform goes down, I can simply drop my Markdown into another platform of choice to get it published.

Okay, so Markdown is my writing fetish. It just makes writing a blog so much more enjoyable for me. Take it for a spin. Maybe you’ll like it too. It’s easy to learn and there are many places to learn more about it from. Just Duck It (Okay, I’m also a fan of DuckDuckGo).

I’ll have to discuss the use of images within Markdown and blogging platforms on another occasion. I mostly self-blog with text but images can be included. They require some thought though.

Tip : You can include valid HTML right within a Markdown document.

For any markup that is not covered by Markdowns syntax, you simply use HTML itself. Theres no need to preface it or delimit it to indicate that youre switching from Markdown to HTML; you just use the tags.

The only restrictions are that block-level HTML elements must be separated from surrounding content by blank lines, and the start and end tags of the block should not be indented with tabs or spaces.

Using Markdown anytime, everywhere, wherever there’s a cursor is how I roll my blogs these days.

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