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markdown

The nerd
implimentation of GTD
is based on plain text-files, or more
precisely

– all lists in text files, kept in directory
“~/Documents/txt”
– all documents maintained in Markdown for easy
HTML conversion

I’ve been writing HTML-code since the times
that the best browser around was something called NCSA Mosaic so I’ve never paid too much attention to
Markdown
before. Here is its main purpose

Markdown is a
text-to-HTML conversion tool for web writers. Markdown allows you to
write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then
convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or >HTML). Thus, Markdown is
two things: (1) a plain text formatting syntax; and (2) a software tool,
written in Perl, that converts the plain text formatting to
HTML.

An example of Markdown-code followed by its
HTML-output can be seen at the BlueCloth website and I have
to agree that the Markdown text is very legible. I’ve been playing
around with Markdown for a couple of days now (in fact this post is
written in Markdown as WordPress has a Markdown-plugin) and have found a
few uses for it (more on this another time). Essential sites to visit if
you want to learn some Markdown are : its basic
syntax
and in the rare cases that this doesn’t do what you want to
do there is also a full
syntax
page.

If you want to use Markdown to write your
HTML-pages you need to be able to convert Markdown to HTML (and
conversely although the uses for this are not immediately clear, but
there are plenty of good reasons!). That’s what the
Markdown.pl Perl-script does for you (one way) and the
Python-script html2text.py (to be found here) (the other
way).

To get them working using BBedit
all you have to do is to put them in the _BBEdit Support/Unix
Support/Unix Filters_ directory (to be found in the BBEdit-folder in
_/Applications_). Then, if you have written a Markdown-text, do a
_Select All_ go to the !# menu and look for
Markdown.pl under _Unix Filters_ and voila, you have valid XHTML
(the other direction is similar).

This is a bit of work and one
would like to do both operations in nearly all Applications using the
_Services Menu_ (in fact, until a few weeks ago I had no clue
that there was something as useful as this menu hidden under the
program-name-menu of any Cocoa-program!). This is best done using HumaneText.service. The
installation is really as siimple as they say on this page (although it
took me a couple of trials before it worked, and I use the Services-menu
rather than the keystroke-shortcuts).

HumaneText works perfectly with TextEdit,
SubEthaEdit and (probably more important to mathematicians) TeXShop and
iTeXMac (the two most common front-ends for (La)TeX under OS X). A
noteworthy exception is BBEdit (hence the above laborious work-around).
Sometimes there are problems with punctuation in the conversion but you
can get around this using SmartyPants.

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