John Gruber with the help of Aaron Shwarz relieved the pain of writing awkward html to writing straightforward Markdown. Yes, yes, yes and yes! Was it difficult? - I cannot know. Was it needed? - Yes!
<div class="entry-content"><p>John Gruber with the help of Aaron Shwarz relieved the pain of writing awkward html to writing straightforward <a href="http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/">Markdown</a>. Yes, yes, yes and yes! Was it difficult? – I cannot know. Was it needed? – Yes!</p>
John Gruber with the help of Aaron Shwarz relieved the pain of writing awkward html to writing straightforward [Markdown](http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/). Yes, yes, yes and yes! Was it difficult? - I cannot know. Was it needed? - Yes!
In the following I will argue that before long Markdown will kill Word. I am talking about MS Word. Markdown with all its seemingly superficial simplicity has the power to throw such an blow.
We seemed to have been stuck with Word forever.
Except for things do not stay in one place. In the last decade a number of species of text manipulation and formatting tools have become dramatically better and fitter, though working with plain text (code) for computer programs. Word seems to remain much the same and we seem to have become resigned to its interface and behavior.
When I say dramatically better, I am looking into the direction of the modern text and code editors and IDEs, tools that software developers and designers use. Just look at Sublime Text and catching up Atom or Coda2 – sleek, extensible, fast.1 Sublime Text, for instance, has taken the best of what is out there in code manipulation and put it into an appealing interface. Any software developer or web designer who cares about her tools has a well-tuned IDE or editor of choice.
Other alternatives to Word have been around since early Cenozoic times: powerful text editors like Vim or Emacs are around for decades. Whereas LaTeX – a typesetting system for formatting sophisticated articles – is extensively used in scientific community since 1980s.2
After working with Markdown documents for long enough, I realized that Markdown-style text editing is a great middle point between WYSYWIG and markup-based text processing. (I am aware of pro and contra decoupling text manipulation from styling.) However, only now the effort of working with markup-based solution is less than an effort of editing in WYSYWIG mode. To me, this is a new spiral in a slow evolution of text manipulation – a tipping point for adoption of Markdown-style text editing by general users.
And it’s already there. Markdown kinds spread over the Web and are now almost everywhere: Wikipedia, StackOverflow, Github, blogs (including this one) to name a few. New stylish editors for Markdown appear: Mou, Ulysses III.
Why? Because Markdown is simple and adequate. You can type it in a Notepad or on your phone and get a result of a Word value.3
Separation of concerns: content, structure and style
Markdown allows you to focus on Content and Structure, and only on them.4 Then you focus on Style, independently. Style is external to the content and it can be flexibly adjusted. Have you even written a postcard? Didn’t you try out wording on a scratch paper first?
There is still something we need to work on: How do we add style?
Of course style can be in CSS – that is how we have it in the Internet –
Markdown -> HTML +
Happy. Except for CSS is not convenient to learn or use by general users. There must be some visual editor that would help them to tweak and adjust styling in a intuitive way. Ideally, tweaking should humbly live in the Markdown editor and spit out SASS or CSS if asked.
Visual CSS editors start to appear. For instance, Stylizer is tuned for intuitive style editing with immediate feedback, though still not an option for anyone who does not know CSS.
Deckset approaches Markdown styling from another angle – it takes care of the style and generates styled presentations. You focus on the content and the app provides you with predefined trendy styles (that you can’t change, yet).
The solutions are out there to be put together. We don’t need Word anymore. We are changing the way we think about text editing.
P.S.: Now that Word is sorted out, how do we go about Excel?
You can separate them in Word as well, but only in the first edit. Once you’ve formatted your text in Word, all consecutive edits will require adjustment of Content, Structure and Style altogether. ↩