I recently have started a process of migrating my website over to blogger.com. One of the main reasons for this was because in my last server move, I had broken my Movable Type installation, and found myself too busy to fix it. I found I didn’t want to spend my time fixing and updating blogging software. I wanted to work on my projects, write them up, and post them. It was time to move my content to an existing platform that handled the back end. I looked at a few, and decided blogger.com would be as good as any other service. It only took a short time to setup a blog, point a CNAME at it, and then to import my existing posts. When I started creating some new posts, I immediately ran into some limitations.
I rather liked syntaxhighlighter, but it still seemed like I had to do a lot of manual work with the code. Also, I had to select the brush each time. Couldn’t it guess? Notepad++ and some others will guess at what language you’re using and highlight accordingly. I found something called prettify that does just that. You only need to load one js file and one css file. Prettify works off of either
Being able to use this code made my posts look much nicer, but the entire process got me thinking. The way I “document” most of projects typically invole using a notepad editor like Geany or Notepad++. As I work, I add notes, copy in source code or shell comands, and do everything in a plain text editor. Later, I add commentary and clean up the document. I take this and paste it into the WYSIWYG editor on blogger. Finally, I have to keep switching between compose and html mode to get my text looking suitable. There are too many steps for me to want to do this consistently. All I really want to do is take my text file, add a little formatting in a few spots, a few hyperlinks in others, and post it. Enter 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). I have used this before, but didn’t pay it close enough attention. It’s used on github and reddit, there are plugins for it in dokuwiki and redmine. The idea is you write in text, adding formatting using the markdown syntax. This format is both human readable and machine readable. When read by the appropriate library, clean html is generated. It also has a feature for wrapping blocks of code inside of
Within the MarkDown project is a paged called “dingus” which means “placeholder”. You can paste your markdown text into one textarea and get the generated html plus a preview back. I tested pasting that generated html into Blogger’s HTML box and it seems to work perfectly fine. What this means is that I can type up my documentation completely within my text editor of choice, save it locally, and then generate my html code to paste into blogger. Some of you may have realized that my
With this setup, I can quickly paste in my text document and pull html code to paste into blogger.com’s html edit box. With some more research, I can modify the dingus to interact with blogger’s API and post on my behalf. There are also some WYSIWYM live editors that show you an instant render of your markdown as you type (you type in a textarea while your html renders in a nearby div). This would be a good way to do some tweaking to the markdown text before posting the html to the web. My next plans are to make a better dingus, possibly with a live preview and a “post to blogger” option. Some other links: