Something a bit different today, Chris is talking to us about Markdown, a different way to format your blog posts.
First released in 2004, Markdown is a free, lightweight markup language built for the web. Since its release it’s become the de facto standard for user-written content on a number of major websites including GitHub and reddit. As an alternative to remembering HTML syntax it’s also a fantastic tool for blogging, for a number of reasons:
Markdown is easy to read. Readability was one of the main design aims of Markdown, and in many ways it’s really just an extension of the informal markup many people have already used before in text messaging and plain text emails:
Heading ======= Sub-heading ----------- Paragraphs are separated by a blank line. Text attributes *Italic*, **bold**, `monospace`. Shopping list: * apples * oranges * pears Numbered list: 1 apples 2 oranges 3 pears
Markdown is easy to remember. Because it’s easy to read, and because it’s similar to what we’ve used before, it’s also really easy to remember. It doesn’t have an enormous list of features, and this is a good thing because it means you’re never stuck trying to remember how to do something: it just feels natural.
Markdown is easy to implement into your blogging workflow. Ultimately it’s just plain text, which means that you can use pretty much any tools you want to write it. This post was originally drafted in Notepad on my desktop PC, then copied and pasted into Google Docs so that I could review it on my Android tablet and rewrite a few parts. You could just as easily write it on an iPad, an iPhone, a Blackberry, or whatever you have handy when inspiration strikes – so long as it has a text editor!
Obviously this isn’t much use if you then have to manually mark up your draft in HTML, so thankfully it’s also really simple to integrate Markdown into most blogs. There are plugins available for most of the major blogging platforms, and also a number of standalone converting tools such as Dingus and Pandoc.
Markdown helps you concentrate on the important thing: your content. The biggest thing I keep coming back to is Markdown’s simplicity. For me, this is the key to writing: making sure that the tools I use keep out of my way and let me concentrate on thinking of the next few words.
For the curious, you can read the original Markdown version of this post here.