Markdown and Blogging

Cross-posted from scriptogr.am.

Late last year I started thinking about moving my blog on from Posterous. If I do, this will be my second move as I started on Google’s Blogger originally. Posterous attracted my attention because as much as I like WordPress, I wanted something simple where I could focus on content and not managing a Website. Posterous has worked reasonably well, but I don’t have confidence its a solution I can stay with.

With that focus on simplicity, I quite like the idea of writing my posts using markdown, rather than in html or a rich text editor. What is markdown?

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)…

…The overriding design goal for Markdown’s formatting syntax is to make it as readable as possible. The idea is that a Markdown-formatted document should be publishable as-is, as plain text, without looking like it’s been marked up with tags or formatting instructions. While Markdown’s syntax has been influenced by several existing text-to-HTML filters, the single biggest source of inspiration for Markdown’s syntax is the format of plain text email.

Incidentally, Posterous does support markdown, but doesn’t appear to work in the Posterous bookmarklet. The other ongoing issue with Posterous is the difficulty of backing up or exporting your content.

Having a look around, there are actually a lot of people interested in blogging with markdown and some services designed to specifically support it. Right now I’m trying out scriptogr.am, which uses Dropbox as a content management system for your plain text posts. The benefit of using Dropbox is that regardless of what happens to scriptogr.am, I get to keep my content backed up in a format that can be easily re-published using another markdown-based blogging or WCMS system.

The main limitation at this stage – with scriptogr.am at least – is that you can’t easily post attachments, such as images. However, I’m happy to work around that for the moment. I also need to look at integrating a commenting system.

Another alternative is to host your own markdown-based blog, which is something I’m also looking at.

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