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There is a radiant darkness upon us

To Markdown or Not to Markdown

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Steve Rubel sings the praises of Markdown and good old fashioned text editors.

I agree and for a long time have dithered over whether to write all of my blog posts in Markdown. This makes sense as it simplifies the syntax and theoretically should make writing content easier and quicker. I was particularly struck by Caius Durling’s use of Markdown on his Habari blog and the use of the plaintext plugin to reveal the raw Markdown.

However, despite experimenting with both the Markdown plugin for Habari and later the Markdown filter module for Drupal, I have actually never taken the plunge.

I think the subconscious reasons behind for my reluctance to bite the bullet and fully embrace Markdown are:

  1. Knowing the subset of HTML tags I commonly use, I am finally relatively comfortable composing posts in raw HTML.

  2. Although Markdown uses a simple, easy to learn syntax (which is rather the whole point after all), the Markdown markup would be a slightly different syntax to learn and master.

  3. I am (justifiably in my case) worried that I would constantly produce incorrect Markdown syntax and hence generate flawed HTML so I would be forever reviewing the generated HTML which again would be time consuming and self-defeating. A side by side split, live screen Markdown/HTML preview would be really useful.I have just discovered the Live module which looks like it could be used in conjunction with the Markdown filter to create similar functionality (but only when this module is ported to Drupal 7).

  4. Sometimes I embed images from Picasweb or YouTube and I’m not sure how these HTML embeds would work in Markdown or whether the Markdown processor will accept raw HTML for these occasional exceptions.

  5. Drupal supports different filter types on a per post basis but I have concerns about attempting to migrate a blog containing a mixture of HTML and Markdown posts to different blog platforms and I’m hardly likely to convert 1,000 historic posts to Markdown. However, if the Markdown is processed and the generated HTML is stored in the database, this may not be a problem. Another obvious solution is trying to curb this constant urge to tinker with the underlying technology powering this blog but that is unlikely to happen.

Anyway, time to stop procrastinating. I have managed to write this post in Markdown and already I like the modified, simpler syntax, so I will endeavour to follow Steve Rubel’s advice and join the ranks of the ‘modern communicators’.

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