Typing up the last couple of entries, and wishing to include code and basic formatting, I ran into an old issue with MovableType, the publishing system I use for this site. Naturally I tried wrapping code excerpts in
<code> tags, and then customizing that enviroment in my css file. The result was very unsatisfactory. In particular, because I use MovableType's default "Convert Line Breaks" text formatting option to insert
<br /> tags and the like, trying to use
<code> excerpts results in double line spacing.
It's all just messy and annoying, and there has to be a better way. Of course, with millions of people blogging and hitting the same frustrations, there are plenty of better ways. After evaluating a few options at various levels of intrusiveness, I've settled on a solution I'm quickly finding invaluable.
Let me introduce Markdown. It's a Perl app that takes your text and converts the kind of symbols you use to format text anyway (underscores, asterisks, spacing) into relevant HTML. For example, to make the HTML tags I've used in this post appear as text, I simply enclose them in backticks. To make the word Markdown emphasised, I just enclose it in asterisks. And to include code excerpts, I just indent each line. And the best bit? The integration into MovableType is smooth as silk - instead of choosing Convert Line Breaks as my Text Formatting option when making a post, I select Markdown from the same menu.
Markdown is free, open, small, neat, well documented and lives over on Daring Fireball. I'm a happy blogging chappy.
In other MovableType news, it turns out that the commenting function on this site has been broken for some time. Long story short, the spam limiting measures I implemented ages ago moved some things that broke when I updated the site software. It's fixed now. I can be spammed again.