Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Marking down

358 words

HTML can be a pain to type and to read. And while I’m not using it personally – for the fear that having everything encoded in yet another format might come back to haunt me in the future, and because I’m not too unhappy with HTML while I’d have to learn some less powerful abbreviation of it otherwise – tools like Markdown look like a very good idea to me. Good enough to offer it for you to use in your comments, even.

And I’d like to see some comments. Particularly on how well Markdown handles usage of ‘normal’ people who aren’t aware of the whole HTML stuff. How badly can things go wrong and who badly do they go wrong? The background for this is that I’ve been making a small website for a friend. I like playing around with HTML and CSS, so that’s not a big deal. But what absolutely wrecked my nerves were the texts in those pages.

On the one hand I thought they weren’t particularly good and could need some extra work. But that may just be me and it’s basically not my call because it’s not my website. But it really slowed down the work because I always stopped when reading the text and made remarks (I guess I shouldn’t have but that’s just what I tend to do…). In addition to that, having everything tangled in HTML makes it rather difficult to read and write for the people who don’t know HTML and don’t care about it.

So, my idea would be to have simple ‘marked down’ text files on the server that contain the text only and somehow put them into the pages themselves using PHP or so. This would enable my friend to edit her texts on her own, while sparing me the effort of having to worry about the texts.

Comments on whether this is a viable way of doing things or, whether, even for a non-complex site it’d be worth setting up Movable Type or some other system to make things even more easily editable will be appreciated as well. What are your experiences in this area?

February 21, 2005, 15:54

Comments

Comment by Will Robertson: User icon

Hey ssp

This (your second last paragraph) is exactly how Daring Fireball is set up — if you add .text to any of his pages, you can see the unadorned Markdown source.

Perhaps he’d share some of his scripts were you to contact him directly?

Good luck, Will

February 21, 2005, 22:43

Comment by d.w.: User icon

Sven — a friend had to write a small web app for some internal users at his company, for a group of users who weren’t comfortable with HTML syntax but were familiar with common email conventions like using asterisks and underscores for emphasis. After I told him about my positive experiences with Markdown he decided to incorporate it into his project and the results have been very good — the users are happy with it and he doesn’t have to worry about cleaning up screwy HTML.

February 22, 2005, 15:12

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