I enjoy writing. When I want to escape the world of HTML and CSS, I go to markdown. I’ve written elsewhere about my markdown fetish, such as here: My Advice: Learn Markdown – teaneedz.
When I took this website over to WordPress, two things that I wanted to bring along were Bootstrap and Markdown.
Bootstrap, Markdown & WordPress
Bootstrap provides an interesting foundation to build a website on. Its responsive features and baseline styles provide a great starting point for many projects. Not everyone will agree, but Bootstrap can do some wonderful things for a designer, such as save time and provide a quick responsive site for various screen sizes. Others may have different opinions, but I find it to be a solution for many problems. Combining Bootstrap with something like H5BP means that a site is being built on standards and best practices.
Because many projects tend to involve WordPress, especially when blogging and monetization become requirements, this site has finally been converted to it. My personal thought is : WordPress is another tool for the toolbox. Love or hate it, it’s something not to be ignored.
Personally, I’m a plain text aficionado. I compromise with the WordPress dashboard, using it for quick modifications and then try to move on to a text editor to get more radical changes done.
Tip – If you’re thinking of doing WordPress on your own for your business, tread carefully. Get some knowledgeable professional help – unless of course you’re already a designer or quite handy with HTML and CSS.
My tips and suggestions are from the shoes of a regular user – a person busy creating opportunities and business elsewhere. I suppose being a product guy at heart means always asking, “Will regular folks get this quickly and painlessly?”
The WordPress dashboard indeed allows one to customize many areas of a theme, but people like me will save you time, headache and money in the long run. We’ll dive in, get things optimized and twist a look to your liking.
Shoestrap for WordPress seems to provide just the right flavor of Bootstrap that I was looking for in the world of WordPress.
Shoestrap is an open-source WordPress theme that’s based on HTML5 Boilerplate and Bootstrap from Twitter. It is a fork of the amazing Roots theme with many customizations and additions, allowing you to use WordPress’s built-in theme customizer to control every aspect of your theme!
Shoestrap or Bootstrap is simply the foundation. From that foundation, the dashboard in WordPress allows one to change regular items such as colors and layout. However, someone with knowledge of Bootstrap, will come in and tweak anything under the hood to mold the theme to whatever they want it to be.
Requirement #1 seems to be solved here.
Markdown (requirement #2) is met with the WP-Markdown plugin by Stephen Harris. I’m still taking it for a run but it appears to take care of my markdown needs. I believe in Markdown.
Markdown is such a light syntax for writing that it really makes the blogging aspect of things fun.
# This is an <h1> header (think large bold heading) ## This is an <h2> header (think bold sub-heading) ### This is an <h3> header (think bold sub-sub-heading) This is a paragraph or <p>. See the blank line above and below this line? - This is an item of an un-orded list or <li>
Just some examples of markdown. More details can be found here : Daring Fireball: Markdown Basics
Writing markdown in WP is easy now with the above mentioned plugin. Getting out of a WYSIWYG editor is probably the best thing one can do to properly get into the blogging mode. Writing a blog in plain text, without a bunch of HTML markup allows me to focus on the simplicity of writing. WYSIWIG editors remove that pain, but introduce new levels of discomfort when it comes time to get things looking just right.
My general workflow involves writing a blog from BBEdit (my plain text editor of choice) in markdown and then transferring it over to any blogging platform. If the platform supports markdown, then I transfer it over without any changes. BBEdit will translate the markdown to HTML quickly though, if the platform does not support markdown – saving me a few steps. I use a little Mac app called QuickCursor to handle firing up BBBedit whenever I need to type within a text field on the web. A keystroke brings me to BBEdit and back – not to mention that it takes care of all of my web design needs.
The WP-Markdown plugin will let you write markdown directly into a post’s editor. It also supports markdown in comments too.
In the backend, everything gets converted to standard HTML which means that you can cross out one item from your SEO list. Some folks may not use headers when writing a blog, but yet they are important for good SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Using markdown results in a good layout and use of headers simply because they’re so easy to remember and use.
I encourage anyone to learn markdown and see how it improves the writing process.
If you ever have to print out a document in straight markdown and send it to someone who doesn’t know a thing about it or HTML (sales, marketing, some board members maybe) – you know what? They’ll understand it.
The syntax is intuitive enough that anyone can read it. They may not know that a # means an h1 header, but that doesn’t matter. The document will still convey meaning and will look cleaner than one that is written with a bunch of HTML tags all over it.
One can even include HTML right within a markdown document.
For me, writing became so much more enjoyable with fewer distractions when I started using markdown. The creative side is not weighed down with extra clicks and WYSIWYG foibles.
However, if you want someone else to handle this all for you, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I can be a good tool to have in your toolbox at times – an aficionado for hire – or maybe just a tea bud to drain a pot over 😉