Scripting News: Markdown and outliners.

A picture named drummer.gifI’ve had Markdown on my to-do list for a few months, and the other day, with a bit of blank space in my worklist, I decided to give it a shot.

It was amazingly easy to integrate into our JavaScript app. I just downloaded the source for Pagedown, the Markdown interpreter used by Stack Overflow. I put it into a file on our server, and included it in Fargo. Added a command to the File menu, and came up with a simple way to generate it for users. The whole thing was done in a couple of hours.

Now we need people who know Markdown and outliners to take a look at this, try it out and relatively quickly, before there’s an installed base to break, figure out if there’s anything special we need to do, because this is an outliner and not a straight text editor.

Here are a couple of considerations:

1. Should we generate one or two return chars at the end of every outline heading? At first we did one, then thought better and generated two, but now we’re back at one. Pretty sure one is the right answer. We often think of a headline as a paragraph, but sometimes headlines are titles. Markdown views titles and paragraphs very differently.

2. Indentation. I thought at first that we should generate a tab for every level, but backed out of that idea quickly because Markdown treats tabs as very special characters. Everything deeper than level 0 would be seen as preformatted code. Not the desired outcome.

So I wonder if there have been any others who have integrated outlining and Markdown before? If so, what did they do here?

See the Fargo docs for an idea how it works from a user’s standpoint.

I welcome any comments from Markdown experts (I am anything but that).


About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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