Since the dawn of this weblog, I’ve undertaken different approaches to my writing. I’ve used different content management systems (it’s currently a self-hosted WordPress blog, but I also have Squarespace and Scriptogr.am sites), and I’ve used a variety of tools and apps to making writing for this blog easier. Although I have a reasonable handle on HTML, I am not a coder, and hate writing in it. It’s a poor format for editing, and an even worse format if I want to re-use my writing for other purposes.
My current writing process involves Multimarkdown Composer and Mars Edit on OSX and Byword and Poster on iOS. I could just use the WYSIWYG interface on MarsEdit or Poster, but find that I like to write first in plain text so that I can edit and re-use. Frankly, the HTML rendered through most WYSIWYG tools is pretty clunky.
The “glue” that binds these disparate sites and apps together, however, is John Gruber’s Markdown syntax, which makes writing easy, regardless of whether I start in Drafts on iOS or nvAlt on OSX and then continue in Byword/Multimarkdown Composer, or start straight in Byword/MMC. Every time I start, I start in Markdown.
Markdown is quite easy to learn, but it is still a little “geeky”. It is also cool because most non-geeky people could read a text document in Markdown and get it. And it renders well in a variety of outputs – HTML obviously, but it also works nicely for written publications.
David Sparks of MacSparky and the Mac Power Users podcast has published his latest MacSparky Field Guide – this one being the MacSparky Markdown Field Guide, co-authored with Eddie Smith. It follows on from his wonderful Paperless Field Guide, which is one of the best resources for Mac users (in particular) who want to move to a paperless lifestyle.
I saw David’s post today announcing the release of the new Markdown Field Guide. I immediately downloaded it from the iBooks store (it’s also available as a PDF book) and will start reading it today. I may review it in detail later on, but if my experience with the MacSparky Field Guide’s and Markdown is any indication, this is one that any writer (particularly for the web) will want to download today.