Emacs Wizardry: markdown-mode

 

I have made an amazing discovery recently.  While its not quite an achievement like the Curiosity rover (Mr. Rover has been entertaining to follow on Twitter) it certainly has brought me great joy nonetheless.  It is Jason Blevin’s markdown-mode.

Back in this post I mentioned that I would be using Emacs more routinely, to include editing these blog posts which I have been doing so far.  But to get the formatting just the way I like it, I’ve been using html-mode and editing the raw html and then uploading it to WordPress.  This wasn’t all that bad, but I’d have to remember the paragraph tag for each paragraph, use the right href, etc… Word wrapping was an issue too and I would have to fill / unfill paragraphs prior to uploading as well.

This is no more.  Using markdown-mode I can edit in the lightweight markdown and after installing markdown (via brew install markdown on my mac), I can quickly generate the html from the text. I’ve used github’s flavored markdown (gfm) before, but it never clicked with me to use it for blogging until I did some googling. Conveniently, gfm-mode is also available.

emacs (specifically aquamacs24 built from source at github) with the top buffer in markdown-mode and the bottom buffer showing the html.

I realized that I’ve just geeked out on Emacs, but very much in the Neal Stephenson definition from “Tune On, Tune In, Veg Out” in Some Remarks, which I have been enjoying lately:

“To geek out on something means to immerse yourself in its details to an extent that is distinctly abnormal-and to have a good time doing it.”

My Emacs usage has drastically increased now that I’m back at work, so there will be more geeking out in the future.

But first, from that same article, another great Stephenson quote (that and I’m enjoying the simple blockquote markdown syntax):

“The few conservatives still able to hold up one end of a Socratic dialogue are those in the ostracized libertarian wing-interestingly enough, a group with a disproportionately high representation among fans of speculative fiction.”

 

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