can you see the future?

Bowerbird at Bowerbird at
Thu Jul 14 15:17:05 EDT 2011

looks like my message from last week
about writing tools was right on time...

we are enjoying a display of fireworks
now going off in this particular arena...

fletcher started work on an editing app
with markdown-preview built right in,
after reporting on his blog that he had
"seen the future" in ali's post last month,
where ali debuted his syntax highlighter,
and fletcher is releasing versions daily...



further, there are now many more apps
for the ipad/iphone which use markdown,
compared to when i looked a month ago.

i've bought almost all of them, and found
that none of them hits the sweet spot yet,
but some of 'em are getting kinda close...

and really, what i'm looking for isn't hard,
so i'm sure someone will get there soon...

in the meantime, there's experimentation:



markdown support on desktop machinery
is also increasing, as has been noted here:


since most writers still write at their desks,
that kind of support continues to be vital...


the articles at those last two links are by
brett terpstra, who's also just released an
overarching tool that can be set to "watch"
(i.e., monitor) markdown files (i.e., .txt files)
output from other programs, and re-convert
'em to .html each time they are re-saved, so
-- with this tool -- _every_ text-editor can
now be described as "markdown-compatible".

an auto-converter, itself, isn't a big deal, but
terpstra's app -- "marked" -- also provides a
preview pane of its conversion, making such
"markdown support" more than a line of hype.

that is, it can be run simultaneously with the
other text-editor program, thereby giving you
"instant feedback" if your results are incorrect,
while you are still in the text-editor to fix 'em.
this is an extremely valuable pedagogical asset.

"marked" has other charms too. (for instance,
it generates .pdf output which is serviceable.)

and yes, it has glitches too -- some characters
cause it to go blank, and (worst of all, for me)
it seemingly will not handle files which do not
have an extension (and none of mine do) --
but it _is_ brand new, so we hope it improves.

there are, however, some problems inherent
in this approach. i execute saves _frequently_
-- on the order of once a minute, i'd guess --
but i'd like to see a re-rendering more often
than _that_. but i just can't see how "marked"
would ever be able to provide that. moreover,
it'd be nice, when writing more than a snippet,
if the display anchored at the insertion-point,
not always presented from the top of the file.
"marked" _could_ take measures to implement
that feature, but i'm uncertain its programmer
will see the need, or feel the feature is worth it.

so i believe a light-markup text-editor which
embeds its own output-display will be better.

but despite these few shortcomings, "marked"
is clearly a step forward in the right direction.
and gruber sent its site 10,000 hits yesterday,
and hopefully terpstra enjoys a great payday...
("marked" is now in the top-10 of paid apps.)

so even in the mere week since my last post
on this topic, things have improved greatly...

yes, it's true that most of this improvement is
occurring on the mac side, when light-markup
is a benefit that can truly work cross-platform.
(face it, folks, it's truly the only way that we can
rid the world of the scourge known as ms-word.)

and yes, it's also true that there's still too much
emphasis on light-markup as a vehicle to .html,
instead of enlightenment about its broader value
for archiving, as an alternative to heavy-markup.
(face it, folks, it's truly the only way that we can
rid the world of that other scourge, called .pdf.)

but given the last month, especially the last week,
i'd think we can be quite happy with the progress...

light-markup is on the march...

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