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Ask Slashdot: Do You Use Markdown and Pandoc? 204

BartlebyScrivener writes "I am a author, screenwriter, law prof, and a hobbyist programmer. I love MacVim and write almost everything in it: Exams, novels, even screenplays now that Fountain is available. I use LaTeX and WordPress and so on, but several years ago I discovered Markdown and the wonderful Pandoc. I searched Slashdot expecting to find lively discussions of both Markdown and Pandoc, but found nothing. Do Slashdotters look down their noses at these tools and do their work in HTML and LaTeX? I can't imagine computer geeks using Word instead of their favorite text editors. If not Markdown and Pandoc, what tools do Slashdotters use when they create documents that probably need to be distributed in more than one format: HTML, PDF, EPUB or perhaps even docx?" And then there's DocBook, LyX, and a host of other markup languages. What do you use, in what context?
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Ask Slashdot: Do You Use Markdown and Pandoc?

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  • I use (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    reStructuredText. It is a lot more powerful than Markdown while still maintaining beauty. It is a bit more strict with formatting though, as is always the tradeoff for more power.

    • I like rST, but Markdown seemed to get wider support so I gradually switched to using it instead because they're sufficiently similar that it's annoying using both and lots of things didn't support rST. They're both roughly equal for the sorts of things I use them for: blog posts, articles, doc comments in code. There's no way I'd write a scientific paper or a book in either though: LaTeX is still the king there.
  • Yes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ardeaem ( 625311 ) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @04:15PM (#45182651)
    I used to use LaTeX for everything, but I have switched to markdown for presentations, papers, tech reports, and even everyday statistical analysis (probably, they'll turn into tech reports anyway). LaTeX is way too finicky for everyday use. markdown doesn't completely fail over a misplaced character, while LaTeX will. Of course, you're giving up a lot of power by moving to markdown, but I find for most things markdown provides a good balance of usability and flexibility. I still use LaTeX for papers I'm going to submit to scientific journals, which is where I need the features of LaTeX.

    I use the Rmarkdown flavor of markdown.

    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @04:22PM (#45182693) Homepage Journal

      LyX for reports and paper writing, with some raw LaTeX sprinkled in. I have a short python script that can merge multiple documents so I don't have extremely long bulks of content. And there is the python environment for LaTeX [texample.net], which is awesome with sympy and matplotlib.
      LibreOffice for quick documents perhaps with images for a quick WYSIWYG. There is no reason to do everything in text, for some (many?) things the feedback loop is just way too long.
      reStructuredText [sourceforge.net] for code documentation, anything that should be readable from command line, but also can be used to make pretty html websites. Sphinx [sphinx-doc.org] helps. rst exports into plenty of formats via docutils [sourceforge.net] (just expand for rst2* commands).
      Converters to epub for stuff I want to read on my ebook reader (from Calibre [calibre-ebook.com]).
      For the text formats my usual editor is gedit. Simple and plain.

      It doesn't matter much if you prefer Markdown or rst, that's like arguing which wiki has the best syntax. There are plenty of utilities that can cross-convert and export (pandoc is one of them).

      • Re:Yes (Score:4, Informative)

        by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @05:03PM (#45182985) Homepage Journal

        LyX for reports and paper writing, with some raw LaTeX sprinkled in. I have a short python script that can merge multiple documents so I don't have extremely long bulks of content.

        \input{file.tex} is your friend, it's basically the latex equivalent of the include statement in many languages. It's particularly nice if you have a simulation, gnuplot etc. generating a splash of latex that you want to integrate in the full paper.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          \include{chapter} is even better, as it lets you do things like compile only a single chapter (but with correct page numbering and such) when you're working on something specific. \input is a lot more low-level.

      • Re:Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Will.Woodhull ( 1038600 ) <wwoodhull@gmail.com> on Sunday October 20, 2013 @07:27PM (#45184005) Homepage Journal

        Since wiki syntax has been mentioned, I'll jump in.

        I now use wikitext for nearly all my writing, usually using gedit as the editor. My writing does not require the level of formating that LaTeX and its ilk are capable of. A good portion of my writing is in collaboration with others, and I want to grow that percentage since the text is consistently better when more than one person is stirring the word pot.

        I've used several wiki engines since about 2003. At the moment Dokuwiki is my favorite: it has good ACL security, it handles embedded images and files okay, and it produces clean HTML5 pages. Mostly it behaves like Markdown in the way it gets out of my way when I'm using a plaintext editor.

        An advantage of Dokuwiki and wikitext is that the semi-wysiwyg browser editor allows wider collaboration and effective proof-reading, by persons who don't want to learn a mark-up language, even a simple one.

        When I need to do a brochure, business card, or other authoring task which is more about presentation than writing, then I use other tools. Inkscape is good, and I have done posters and slides in Gimp with little effort. But that is more about publishing than writing.

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      I use LaTeX(beamer class) when it makes sense, which is anything that is going to be production. It does require a level of discipline, but to me, the text based input and the precise output makes it worth any limitations. I use python script to output LaTex. Given that LaTex output to PDF is routine any past issues are past.

      For other things, Openoffice does everything I need. When I need a certain kind of fancy presentation I use Keynote.

    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      My favorite feature of markdown is that it can easily be used to collaborate with people without having them learn a complicated syntax. "Use the same formatting as I did" is all they need to know.
    • In the past century, there was also this neat tool called Scribe which spawned a bunch of similar tools, such as Skribe, Scribble, and Exscribe. Essentially, a rather light-weight semantic markup (like Markdown etc.) but at the same time extensible and programmable (like TeX) in a sane language (unlike TeX) and with multiple backends (again, unlike TeX).

      I wonder if there's a space in the lightweight markup space for a better markup than Markdown. That's what many people use, but it sure is limited, and not

      • Crap, this is starting to get embarrassing. :-) Please ignore the Pandoc mention. I intended to comment on that yesterday, but my intermittent connection got disconnected and when I got to it now, I had forgot by then that the question, besides Markdown, has *already* mentioned it.

        Also, I'm surprised that nobody seems to be using ConTeXt [contextgarden.net] instead of LaTeX.

  • Markdown is gaining popularity again thanks to the environment and community around GitHub. That said, I afraid that most people still would prefer wysiwyg systems, as it easier to use than 'feel like a programmer' when using weird codes such as HTML, MarkDown, bbcodes, MediaWiki etc.
    • by gd2shoe ( 747932 ) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @05:54PM (#45183365) Journal

      That said, I afraid that most people still would prefer wysiwyg systems, as it easier to use than 'feel like a programmer' when using weird codes such as HTML, MarkDown, bbcodes, MediaWiki etc.

      "Feel like a programmer" isn't the problem. Knowing that something is technically correct, but being unable to instantly verify that it is aesthetically pleasing is a major hangup. Unless you're making a professional report, or writing a book, there's no benefit to: hand-encoding a text, rendering it, editing the code, re-rendering it, tweaking the code, re-re-rendering it, tweaking the code again, re-re-re-rendering it... ad infinitum. In order for all that work to be worth it, the project must call for absolute perfection.

      For a vast majority of writings out there, "good enough" is good enough.

      (In today's day there really is no good reason why we can't have LaTeX quality wysiwyg. Computationally expensive, blah, blah, blah. We've got very, very fast computers on every desk today. Caching, and clever use of pre-rendering would permit a vast majority of changes to be rendered in real-time.)

      • I think the problem with wysiwyg is that it is not "what you see is what you mean". LaTeX rendering only works because the code says what you mean. It is very, very hard to design a wysiwyg editor that forces you to type what you mean, instead of what you think you want it to look like.

        Any LaTeX user who has co-authored something with a Scientific Word user knows this: the LaTeX it outputs is nonsensical, but it looks sort of okay when rendered. Just not as good as LaTeX from someone who speaks it as a

        • Have you ever used TeXmacs [texmacs.org], and do you have an opinion of it? I suspect you have, since "what you see is what you mean" is a phrase of which they are quite fond.

          For those who have not: TeXmacs is a graphical editor which implements the typesetting rules from TeX in an editor whose interface is inspired by emacs. (M-x commands, and all.) It does not use LaTeX as an intermediate rendering engine. I used it for a while. It has some virtue.

      • Avoiding "Computationally expensive" stuff isn't the reason for using Latex.

        When I use Latex, it's because I need to make a complex document with footnotes etc. and I want to use a real (i.e. programmable) text editor (GNU Emacs in my case).

        LibreOffice has its uses, but you can't grep .odt files.

        (Actually, instead of "LaTeX quality wysiwyg", which sounds like you want software other than Latex, but which gives equal quality, you probably meant to say "wysiwyg LaTeX". If that's the case, I agree. But since

        • by gd2shoe ( 747932 ) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @08:00PM (#45184249) Journal

          LibreOffice has its uses, but you can't grep .odt files.

          Depends on what you're doing. You can't use grep, specifically, but you can search by regular expression in LibreOffice.

          (Actually, instead of "LaTeX quality wysiwyg", which sounds like you want software other than Latex, but which gives equal quality, you probably meant to say "wysiwyg LaTeX". If that's the case, I agree...

          That's one way to slice it, but not the only way. I think publishing has an unhealthy relationship with LaTeX. Markup languages have come a long ways since 1980. Why are we so stuck on this one? Another language that is (1) more human readable (2) easier to machine parse (3) renders to equal or better quality (4) is wysiwyg friendly, should be quite possible.

          • by rnturn ( 11092 )

            LibreOffice has its uses, but you can't grep .odt files.

            Depends on what you're doing. You can't use grep, specifically, but you can search by regular expression in LibreOffice.

            I think the grandparent post was talking about doing a search of files within a directory (or tree) outside the editing utility. What lunatic is going to manually load each file in a directory and repeat a search? (``Well, that string's not in this document... let's close this file and try the next one....'')

        • Precisely. I write mostly in TeX (real TeX, not LaTeX) but use LibreOffice for some documents. One of the major reasons that I continue to use TeX is that I can edit it as I please, which generally means using GNU Emacs. LibreOffice and its kin are so much inferior as editors that I feel crippled when I have to use them. Indeed, when writing something that is mostly text, even if it is ultimately going to be formatted in LibreOffice, I almost always write it as plain text in Emacs, then import the plain tex
      • In today's day there really is no good reason why we can't have LaTeX quality wysiwyg.

        Actually there's a very good reason: only geeks use LaTeX, and geeks are completely incapable of writing usable (read: wysiwyg) software.

      • by devent ( 1627873 )

        You contradict yourself. If ""good enough" is good enough." then you just write the text once, render it, finish.
        There are technical limitations to wysiwyg, and the core issue is: wysiwyg is a lie:
        http://www.terminally-incoherent.com/blog/2008/10/16/wysiwyg-is-a-lie/ [terminally...herent.com]

        • by gd2shoe ( 747932 )

          There is no contradiction there. Without wysiwyg, you have no way to know if what you've got is good enough, or not. You've got to go through the process or rendering, changing, rendering, etc, until you reach "good enough". With wysiwyg, you instantly know if something isn't good enough. It's a lot faster, especially if you make a little bit of effort to deal with styles. The final product won't be perfect, but it will be good.

          And that link is a rather stupid and opinionated rant, quite frankly. It's

          • WYSIWYG is a terrible way of writing, but it's a great way of editing. The problem is that most modern tools conflate the two. When I write, I prefer to use vim and minimise the distractions - I see the words, I focus on the words and the markup describing their meaning, and I worry about the typesetting later. For articles, actually I don't worry about the formatting at all, my publisher sorts all of that out and so there's no reason for me to bother. I don't care what it looks like - that's not my job
      • In fact, I started using LyX [lyx.org] back in... 1997 or so?

        Not only it is used and looks like a WYSIWYG editor, but actually frees your mind from actually caring how it will render on a page of a given size. Just write what you mean (they call it WYSIWYM — M for Mean), and when previewed/printed it will be beautiful. Why? Because it is LaTeX doing it.

  • shamelessly putting forward a young project of mine but look, here I'm using markdown (piped to anything, pandoc works fine) inside HTML documents and in multiple blocks throught the document.
    webnomad [dyne.org] is a minimal implementation to use <markdown> </markdown>inside a plain html and bootstrap styled website. I hope this inspires someone. I'd advocate for markup tags inside HTML6 eheh
  • I use the BEST editor there is - $EDITOR.

    I save files as 7bit ASCII, hard-wrap at column 72, and if a file extension is required, i use .txt.

    • Welcome to the 1970's.

      Seriously 7-bit Ascii?
      Hard Wrap at 72? Are you still using punched cards? I stopped using them in 1974!

      Get with in MAN. Use UTF-8.

    • hard-wrap at column 72, and if a file extension is required

      Really? My FORTRAN 77 cards had 80 columns. Where do you write your ID-sequences? What happens when, on your way to the mainframe room, you stumble and spread all the cards all around the floor? Dude, I'm telling you 80 columns is the way to go nowadays...

      • When I was taking Fortran IV and Fast Fortran, eight columns of the card were reserved for those sequence numbers (which the keypunch could automatically do), so no more than 72 were directly available to the user. One reason for 72-column word-wrap, there was a time when that was convenient, since one could reference a line on a terminal screen with what was punched on a card.

      • Really? The last time I used cards was due to a class requirement. I was taking a class that had a programming assignment and the professor actually wanted us to turn in card decks. So I sent a copy of the program to my virtual punch and sent a message to the operator asking him to send the file in my punch to a physical card punch. His response: SERIOUSLY? And this was back in my FORT-G and FORT-H days. I've never heard of anyone coming anywhere near an 029 keypunch in the F77 era. In fact, I think it was

  • by excelsior_gr ( 969383 ) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @04:20PM (#45182685)

    I can't imagine computer geeks using Word instead of their favorite text editors.

    Indeed, everyone has his favorites. People have argued text editors to death. Find what works for you and use it (and stop flaming us). Also, programmers write software, not documentation. All document conversions are left to the secretary (and she may do it in any way she pleases).

    • by utoddl ( 263055 )

      Also, programmers write software, not documentation.

      I've been contributing to a project over the last 20 years (which happens to be a text editor [unimi.it]) which has 80+ pages of documentation in texinfo. I'm not specifically recommending texinfo; it's what the project started with and it works. The point is, the build process renders a plain text version of the texinfo documentation, then a script reads the formatted docs to build several of the program source files, including hash tables of the commands, static text for the internal "help" commands, enums (it's C c

      • Well, I was jesting, but your comment made me realize that in the case you described the programmers also didn't actually write the documentation, they programmed it so that it writes itself!

        • by utoddl ( 263055 )
          Okay, I'll run with that. So documentation is really just code that we run on users. Suddenly writing documentation has much more entertainment potential.
  • I use HTML when I just want a document that works everywhere. When I want to impress or actually care about typography, I use InDesign and render to PDF—nothing beats its optical margins and paragraph-optimized justification.

    Markdown strikes me as something really great for people who don't know HTML. Otherwise, it doesn't really save you a significant amount of typing and it is significantly less powerful.

    • by Gertlex ( 722812 )

      Regarding the second half of your comment, I use ReStructuredText a lot, and have used Github's modified Markdown a fair bit, too... and in addition to disagreeing with your assertion about not saving much typing over HTML, text in ReST/Markdown is so much more readable than HTML when not rendered (aka when you're writing it...) (though now I realize that since I have very few images/links in my ReST text, that's a big part of why it's so readable)

  • by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @04:21PM (#45182689) Homepage

    I think you have a bunch of axis going on here at the same time.
    1) Open source tools vs. closed source
    2) General use vs. specialized
    3) WYSIWYM vs. WYSIWYG editing.

    Let's start with (3). I generally like WYSIWYM more than WYSIWYG environments. That being said WYSIWYG is very useful for content where consistency doesn't matter as much. While there are WYSIWYM systems for presentations but they only really work for data publishing better than WYSIWYG. I think a fairer comparison on this axis might be LyX vs. Word or FrameMarker vs. Word. Going up something like higher end composition engines vs. something like InDesign.

    Then there is general use vs specialized. LaTeX is optimized for text with equations which is specialized. Fountain is for screenplays. That's not the same as a product like Word which is all purpose.

    Finally open source vs. closed source is a complicating factor. When we consider Word do we consider all the myriad additional cost extensions, for example SharePoint or just the core product? For OpenSource do we consider the entire platform and how these components work together? More importantly closed vs. open goes beyond editing to broader computing issues.

    • by manicb ( 1633645 )

      Is MS Word really "all-purpose"? I'd say it was optimised for middle management.

      • by jbolden ( 176878 )

        It is far too advanced for middle management. Middle management doesn't need things like bibliographic support, long complex multi author change tracking, styles, complex tab adjustments, multiple keyboards for foreign languages.... Those are features for people who spend much more time authoring documents than middle management.

  • I use emacs (Score:5, Funny)

    by foobar bazbot ( 3352433 ) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @04:22PM (#45182691)
    Because it has C-x M-c M-butterfly. [xkcd.com]
  • I use asciidoc [methods.co.nz] as a quick and easy way to take minutes of meetings. I usualy mail the participants a quite decent-looking pdf version of the minutes immediately after the end of the meeting. I also use gitit [gitit.net] as a personal wiki. I must admit that I sometimes confuse the syntax of the markdown used by gitit with the quite similar asciidoc. I could switch to pandoc for my minutes, of course, but the pdf produced by asciidoc looks a lot nicer than pandoc's
    • This. As this poster describes, you can hammer out minutes and notes in real time in markdown, then use pandoc to render them to WYSIWYG-able format. Then you mail it out, and everyone else is amazed at your speed. More to the point, you don"t waste your own time.
  • Scrivener (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @04:32PM (#45182761) Homepage

    If you're writing a novel, a tool like Scrivener is a lot better than a text editor of any particular sort. It's designed for writers and makes it easy to do things like keep track of and organize all your notes, which if you're writing a novel is going to be far more important than whatever command is used to change the font.

  • I use LibreOffice, because I hardly do html and need to keep compatible with the crap they use at the customer and the employer when it comes to office formats.

    In general, most commercial text editors are lousy at both editing and layout, but they contain all the "features" that people who don't understand either find handy to mangle their documents with. LibreOffice isn't that different from the others in that respect, but at least it's free and it runs on all the systems I use for daily work, regardless o

  • I use Emacs for writing; most of it is in XML (usually DocBook, sometimes TEI, occasionally XHTML). I use XSLT to transform it to LaTeX if I want publication-quality PDF, but more often the document is the input to other people's toolchains which want XML first. I occasionally transform to other formats (HTML, Word, or some wiki formats which are largely MarkDown-ish).

    I author in XML because most of what I write involves quite detailed and very specific structure, and DocBook and TEI provide appropriate levels of markup for this. I made a conscious decision to go this way a very long time ago, when it was all still SGML, and I have never regretted it.

    Most people don't have that level of specificity to adhere to. All the formats you mention have their areas of application, even Word, but there is a growing undercurrent towards using HTML5 as the default format, driven partly by the fact that Ebooks use it. The publishing industry is very interested, as they hate and detest Word, and only use it because its change tracking is useful and it has usable style-editing, which OpenOffice and friends don't have (ie they have no style margin like Word). It was very clear at the XML SummerSchool [xmlsummerschool.com] last month that there is growing support for HTML5 in editing tools, and some new advances in editorial control (eg systems like Xopus [xopus.com], FidusWriter [fiduswriter.org], and Poetica [poetica.com]) mean there may even be a way to escape from Word :-)

    Disclaimer: editor interfaces are my thesis topic; I have no connection with any of the above except the XML SummerSchool.

  • by vikingpower ( 768921 ) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @05:01PM (#45182969) Homepage Journal
    ...that any Slashdot posting opened up a new world to me. This is one of those - way too rare - postings. I use to write flat text, and hand that to secretaries or colleagues for formatting it into whatever they want or need: html, word, slides, whatever. Software documentation, to me, is generated javadoc - so basically html generated out of flat-text code comments. Of course I knew and know about the existence of LaTex et al.. Yet, as a software architect, I guess I have been, for decades, plain lazy. I simply write flat text in emacs or notepad++. Man, you opened up a universe to me !
    • Very cool.
      By the way, if you ever use an iPad for writing notes (with an added keyboard, since the screen keyboard is insufficient), then try the Textastic writing app. Fast, fast, fast. That is where I first learned about markdown. Textastic will render the markdown to formatted text within the app.
  • by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @05:34PM (#45183185)

    As a web developer, I understand the need to allow users to create content. However, I consider full blown web-based WYSIWYGs (such as TinyMCE and CK Editor) to be terrible tools. Yes, they take care of most of the dirty details, but they also have the capacity produce bloated garbage markup. I've always found bbCode annoying. I've used a couple of Wiki syntaxes as well (MediaWiki, Jira), and find them only slightly less annoying than bbCode. Because I know HTML, I prefer to just write HTML when I know the final format will be HTML.

    Markdown syntax is clean, succinct, and can be extended when needed. The vast majority of non-savvy users only need to do basic formatting (bold, italics, headlines, lists) and Markdown covers that very well, in a way that the user can't do much damage to the prescribed styling of the content.

    I've very briefly experimented with LaTEX, not enough to have actually used it for anything. I was not aware of PanDoc, but it looks very interesting.

  • by PybusJ ( 30549 ) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @05:46PM (#45183291)

    I like the emacs org mode [orgmode.org] (also available for vim [vim.org], and even your mobile [google.com]), though primarily for structured outlines/note-taking, its markup allows document formatting and it can export to a range of formats including PDF.

    Notes, documents, TODOs, all in one format.

    • by gwolf ( 26339 )

      I am surprised it took so many comments for somebody to mention Org Mode.

      I am currently about to finish a book written 100% inside Org-mode. With great, easy to read (and write) markup. Equally epxortable to LaTeX and to HTML (for generating PDF, regular Web pages, ePub, etc.)

      Please, somebody mod PybusJ's comment up.

  • I use Latex for almost all my texts: small, large, letters, presentations, what-have-you.
    Also I copy texts from web sites to Latex and print it out for reading.
    For texts that are only for me I use: plain text.

    I don't understand why some (most) people are scared of Latex. In Linux you just install per package manage Latex+Kile and then you are one mouse click away from a nice Pdf document.

    Small example from http://neurotheory.columbia.edu/~ken/cargo_cult.html [columbia.edu]
    Gives you a very nice document to print out and re

    • by devent ( 1627873 )

      Edit: forget to add mulicols package.
      Fonts: http://www.tug.dk/FontCatalogue/ [www.tug.dk]

      % unicode
      % font
      \linespread{1.05} % Palatino needs more leading (space between lines)
      % page size
      % page columns
      % the document
      \begin{multicols}{2}[\section{Cargo Cult Science}]
      During the Middle Ages there were all kinds of crazy ideas, such as tha

    • I don't understand why some (most) people are scared of Latex.

      As a regular latex user for the last 8 years, I have to say that I am not scared of latex.

      I hate latex.

      I could rant forever about how latex turns writing mathematics from a joy into a constant chore, or how errors and typos can take long to fix than it took to type the document, or how pages never, ever come out satisfactorally.

      But I'll just note that the biggest issue with Latex is that it has its own idea of how your document should look, and i

      • by devent ( 1627873 )

        I think you have a really high standard, like 80 stores buildings high.

        What I really like with Latex is:
        * that even the most simple document looks great, compared with anything MS Office or Open Office.
        I mean, I have experience with Latex from Google search but my documents looking better then anything I saw yet, both from private and provisionals.

        * I can define my own style and use it in all my documents
        * It's plain text so I can use version control
        * I don't have to worry to have the same version of Office

      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        But I'll just note that the biggest issue with Latex is that it has its own idea of how your document should look, and if you disagree or ever dare attempt to override its page and space wasting decisions, you are in for a world of pain.

        And heaven help you if you want to do any page layout work that requires computation. If you've never tried to do actual math computation in LaTeX... well, go find a ball-peen hammer and smash yourself in the nuts repeatedly for twenty minutes. You'll get the same basic ex

  • I use it for blog postings, with the tables and footnotes plugins. I also use it when converting simple text files into e-books with Calibre, which has a built-in markdown converter. I have nothing against html, but typing an open and close tag for everything gets to be tedious when you just want to write something simple, especially for tables.

    I've had to edit other people's book-length Word documents before. These tend to be a mess, because many people don't know how to use styles, so the formatting is a

  • It is "AN author", not "A author".

  • If you use one tool for everything, you're lost in the amateur world.

    Professionals in every profession on this planet have a vast array of tools and pick the right tool for the right job. It's one of the things that makes you a professional.

    I personally use WYSIWYG editors for general text editing like letters, articles and some books. Stuff like Pages or iBooks Author (since I'm on a Mac).

    For longer books and fiction, Scrivener is my tool of choice and since it can export epub, it was my tool of choice for

  • I write fiction, so my focus needs to be on the content rather than presentation, and I envision events in the story, not how the literal text appears. I had to use a non-WYSIWYG word processor called AppleWorks 2.0 on an Apple IIc long ago as a kid, and dealing with the codes was quite distracting; upgrading to WYSIWYG MultiScribe aka BeagleWrite, where I could pay attention just to the story, was a massive improvement.

    Also, when it comes to fiction, the publisher is likely to control the appearance, and

    • Damn it, I forgot to paste in that I normally use OpenOffice because of the need to focus on my writing rather than the textual appearance. How ugly the code is underneath doesn't especially concern me, as hopefully the reader is busy paying attention to the characters/plot.

  • /usr/bin/vi, what else? Not vim, not elvis. No color, no auto-format, no hype.
  • by real-modo ( 1460457 ) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @10:46PM (#45185145)

    If you want wysiwyg markdown: on Windows, check out texts.io. On linux, Uberwiter. On Mac... there are probably lots of options besides texts.

    If you write fiction, or any book-length texts (a Ph. D. thesis or academic papers, frex), you owe it to yourself to check out Scrivener. It's available for OS X, Windows, and in beta for Linux. Closed software and charged for, but worth it.

  • If I'm writing a paper, I use LaTeX. Yes, the macros are a pain, but I find it takes less time than writing a paper in, say, Word (page breaks, sections, image placement, etc. need only be written once in LaTeX, but in Word they need to be revisited at each draft); and LaTeX's output quality meets my standards (while Word's, say, doesn't).

    If I'm writing documentation, I use Markdown. It's simple and it has links. The output quality is far lower, because I expect readers to prefer reading plain HTML anyway -

  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Monday October 21, 2013 @01:53AM (#45185829) Homepage

    As someone that writes a great deal both for online and offline distribution, I use markdown *extensively*.

    It's fabulous for the grunt work of formatting: headers, italics, links. The rest can be done by tossing in HTML, XML, or whatever other markup code is needed. It's fabulously lightweight and fast and unobtrusive.

    In fact, for all those "I wrote my dissertation in LaTeX, *sniff* *sniff*" people here on Slashdot, how about this:

    I wrote my dissertation on an iPad 2, in Daedalus, in markdown, embedding HTML or other kinds of markup as necessary, then formatting it all in a final pass through a couple different parser/formatters. Sometimes the right tool for the job is the one that you have to think about the least—the one that stays out of your way—and for me, that's markdown+Daedalus.

    (Yes, I'm prepared for the onslaught of accusers, ridiculers, and doubters here—prepared to ignore them.)

    • I use markdown + Deadalus for long-form (i.e. dozens of pages) content that will go to print.

      I use markdown + Mou for short-form content that will go online.

      If you write for online distribution at all and you don't know about Mou, you should definitely check it out. Similar statement for those that write books but don't know about Daedalus.

  • by ItsJustAPseudonym ( 1259172 ) on Monday October 21, 2013 @02:08AM (#45185865)
    ...jEdit or gVim for entry, pandoc for conversion, Firefox for viewing in HTML. I take notes in markdown during tech meetings. It"s scary-fast to create good looking notes.
  • The wiki community had their chance to standardize on a markup language but instead we have an atrocious assortment of wildly disparate syntaxes with Mediawiki unfortunately leading the charge... Now we need another one?

    Ok; I'm old. I grew up using LaTeX for everything. Even generated invoices automatically from an ascii file of client/project/hours direct to printer using a Makefile. Now I don't 'write' anymore. I edit with vim and if I need to publish to html, I wrap the file with ... I simply don't c

  • The original question doesn't really ask about LaTeX, but everyone here is talking about that. So, is markdown used around or not?
    I do use Markdown, it's convenient for quick formatting. I am not going to use LaTeX just for a few simple bold/italics needs...

  • I started it when I was writing lots of text on an Alphasmart stand-alone keyboard, almost the best tool for first-draft writing. But really bad for editing. So I'd upload raw text to a file, for further processing on a real conputer. I wrote a program to do preliminary cleanup, making it more like HTML. Emacs after that.

    Yes, that was over a decade ago. The program is written in Modula 3.

    I discovered that the notation I was using on the alphasmart was more convenient than raw HTML, so I continued to us

  • Reading the Ars Technica review [arstechnica.com] it seems that LG desperately wanted it to be a copy of the Samsung Galaxy S4.

    Personally I don't like Samsung (or probably this LG phone) because they change too much from the stock Android version. But I am happy with my Sony Xperia Z1. Very happy in fact, even though there's still some software problems (got update last night though, hopefully it's even better now).

Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.