Markup vs Markdown

John Gruber has written an interesting piece on, amongst other issues covered, markdown. Markdown is the opposite of markup (cf. HTML markup) and attempts to reclaim readability and simplicity in weblog post by eschewing non-essential HTML tags. I can identify with a lot of what John says in his post but with my own posts there are a couple of areas where I feel I must use HTML markup, so this got me thinking about my own weblogging work flow.

I used to type directly into the edit box for a new post. As I’m on a Mac I can’t use the clever WYSIWYG editor features that come with my weblogging software (those features are Windows only) so any HTML I want to include in my post I had to add manually. This got to be too much of a pain, so in that respect I can totally sympathise with John’s markdown principle. But then I discovered the joys of using a stand-alone WYSIWYG HTML editor, specifically Adobe GoLive. This application takes all of the headache out of writing a post and allows for simultaneous write/edit/preview.

Now here’s the bit of my own work flow that’d be just too darned tedious to do by hand, embedded images and links. I tend to use a lot of these and to do them properly e.g. add ALT tags to images and assign titles to links is just too time consuming without an editor. Now, with the exception of posts sent straight from my mobile phone, I try to correctly use ALT tags and link titles as I think it provides a better reading experience and is probably more compliant in terms of accessability.

Lastly, I noticed another advantage of writing in a stand-alone HTML editor such as GoLive. If I want to write about writing HTML i.e. include HTML tags in my posts as part of an illustrative code listing for example, then this is all taken care of for me as GoLive automatically converts the tags I write in WYSIWYG mode into encoded tags. For example, <br> in WYSIWYG mode becomes &lt;br&gt; in source mode and therefore doesn’t confuse the browser.

Taken together with other useful editor features such as spell checking and a drag-and-drop library of HTML objects, I’m very happy with my present work flow.