Thoughts on Markdown

This page summarizes the projects mentioned and recommended in the original post on news.ycombinator.com

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  • KeenWrite

    Discontinued Free, open-source, cross-platform desktop Markdown text editor with live preview, string interpolation, and math.

    KeenWrite[1] is my text editor that takes a slightly different approach to MDX. Rather than include variable definitions within documents, variables are defined in an external file[2]. I find that when variables are part of documents, those variables are often embed controls for presentation logic. To me, any presentation logic meant to affect a plain text document's presentation does not belong in the document itself. Part 8 of my Typesetting Markdown series shows the power of separating content from presentation by leveraging pandoc's annotation syntax[3].

    Annotated Markdown is sufficiently powerful to produce a wide variety of different styles. Here are a few such documents typeset using ConTeXt[5]:

    https://dave.autonoma.ca/blog/2020/04/28/typesetting-markdow...

    https://dave.autonoma.ca/blog/2020/04/28/typesetting-markdow...

    https://impacts.to/downloads/lowres/impacts.pdf

    What I do find bothersome is how some company's are setting de facto Markdown standards without considering the whole ecosystem. GitHub has done this by introducing the "``` mermaid" syntax, which creates a lot of problems[6].

    [1]: https://github.com/DaveJarvis/keenwrite

    [2]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_dFd6UhdV8&t=18s (renamed afterwards)

    [3]: https://dave.autonoma.ca/blog/2020/04/28/typesetting-markdow...

    [4]: https://dave.autonoma.ca/blog/2020/04/28/typesetting-markdow...

    [5]: https://wiki.contextgarden.net/Installation

    [6]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=30337894

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  • Asciidoctor

    :gem: A fast, open source text processor and publishing toolchain, written in Ruby, for converting AsciiDoc content to HTML 5, DocBook 5, and other formats.

    I'm wondering that the article doesn't mention AsciiDoc with a single word. AsciiDoc is a perfect tool for complex text documents with tables, references, side notes etc. It is almost as easy as Markdown (if you compare only the features included in both), but offers way more possibilities. There are also good tools to convert it to different output formats like HTML and PDF.

    A good starting point is: https://asciidoctor.org/

  • pyblosxom

    Discontinued Pyblosxom file-based blogging engine

    One minor note: jekyll definitely was not first to introduce front matter (though they may have introduced yaml front matter?).

    I am sure that at least pyblosxom had it earlier: https://pyblosxom.github.io/Documentation/1.5/writing_entrie...

    Here's the earliest surviving commit showing blog entry front matter in 2002: https://github.com/pyblosxom/pyblosxom/blob/f80cdb42eb37ee0e...

    My recollection is that blosxom (a perl blogging engine) had front matter as well, but I can't find any evidence of it.

NOTE: The number of mentions on this list indicates mentions on common posts plus user suggested alternatives. Hence, a higher number means a more popular project.

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