One of my dad’s passions is cooking. He used to write up recipes in MS Word, print them out and collect them in a folder. Some of those sheets he shared with his friends and family. In the last years he was active in various forums and a blog turned out to be the easiest way to get his information out.
At first “blog” was only the magic word, he built websites with RapidWeaver for each of his projects. This wasn’t the solution, he moved on and tried Google+ and Facebook. The social network approach was nice, because he got some likes, but there was no real interaction and the own brand, so to speak, was missing. He was used to click plugins and expect everything to work and be customizable.
After this forth and back I suggested using Markdown for the tenth time and set up a WordPress installation for him. It’s a new world for him and he struggles getting WordPress configured to do what he wants to do. Again the RapidWeaver plugins where a tad easier to use and often times I get a mail with “nothing works – gonna quit soon (again)”.
It’s frustrating to watch since live could be so easy. I only have to find a simple blogging platform that just works for him. It should be one that’s easy to understand, customized and manage – especially handling pictures.1
Whatever I eventually will come up with, there’s a good chance Markdown will be involved. It’s just the best way to write on the web – there’s no arguing in my opinion.
But Markdown is a barrier for people who hear it for the first time. What to do about it? Well, we’re heading straight for the holiday season I thought to myself “what better to do than to put the gift of Markdown under the tree”.
There are gazillion articles on the web which explain it. But I think there’s a better way:
Creating Content with Markdown: Learn by Video: Simple, future-proof writing with plain text by Brett Terpstra (currently $37.45). Instead of a DVD you can also watch in online on Peachpit. It’s 56 min full of Markdown.
Now Brett’s gone back to basics and created a video which explains every aspect of Markdown.
What I hope to achieve with this gift is that my dad feels obliged to watch it. If he does, he will learn everything that’s to know about Markdown. Simple as that. A hopefully bulletproof plan since there’s no text to read and an instructor who walks him through all the obstacles.
About The Video Tutorial
Brett was kind enough to hook me up with a copy after he released his tutorial back in May. As usual when it comes to linking to the latest and greatest I’m a bit late to the party. In this case I hope it doesn’t matter too much that I skipped buzz-phase. After all, we’re dealing with a classic.
Before hitting play on the video I’ve found myself sitting with a reflective gaze traveling through the last years of me using my keyboard. I’ve been writing in different Markdown flavors for about 5 years and initially the thought that I know all the tricks was predominant. More precise: I imagined this to be a nice easy ride where I just sit back for an hour and see what people like my dad can learn from Brett’s tutorial.
My natural nerd-arrogance was casted aside and struck down after I reached a certain chapter. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but I actually learned some valuable “tricks”. Truth be told, with Markdown there are no tricks. It’s just how you suppose to use the Markdown syntax. I didn’t know or forgot about the tiny details that can make your life easier when writing Markdown, c.f. now I can dismiss my workaround for keeping lists intact when throwing in a blockquote or code block.
The bottom line is, it makes for a great gift but also works like a PRAM reset for users like me. Now I have a refreshed memory and can use 100% of my knowledge again.
Brett starts out nice and explains what Markdown is, who it’s for and what the benefits are. He continues how basic structuring of a document works and of course the syntax of Markdown.
A basic knowledge of HTML is recommended to understand everything, but if you follow the examples you should be fine.
One last thing: it’s also nice to know that Brett developed the same style preferences as the ones I’m using now (excluding reference style links… FoldingText and inline links rocks – it’s my personal dream team).
If you’re curious, here’s the table of content:
- 1.0 Introduction
- 1.1 What is Markdown (1:44)
- 1.2 Document Structure (2:51)
- 1.3 Headlines (2:27)
- 1.4 Bold and Italics (1:35)
- 1.5 Lists (4:49)
- 1.6 Linking (7:47)
- 1.7 Images (1:18)
- 1.8 Blockquotes (0:51)
- 1.9 Code/Verbatim (3:10)
- 1.10 Hard line breaks (0:42)
- 1.11 Style considerations (2:39)
- 1.12 Test Yourself
- 2.1 Markdown extensions: Footnotes (1:52)
- 2.2 Markdown extensions: Tables (1:49)
- 2.3 MultiMarkdown (3:07)
- 2.4 Discount (0:48)
- 2.5 Kramdown (1:10)
- 2.6 GitHub-flavored Markdown (1:03)
- 2.7 Other Markdown flavors and extensions (1:29)
- 3.1 Converting to Markdown (2:04)
- 3.2 Exporting Markdown (5:54)
- 4.1 Leanpub and blogging platforms (1:02)
- 4.2 Collaboration (3:37)
- 5.1 Byword (1:26)
- 5.2 MultiMarkdown Composer (1:17)
- 5.3 iThoughts X and iThoughts HD (0:48)
- 5.4 Scrivener (0:48)
- 5.5 Marked (2:30)
- 5.6 Simplenote (0:29)
- 5.7 nvALT (0:43)
- 5.8 Sublime Text, TextMate, and others (0:40)
- 5.9 Conclusion and additional resources (0:34)
- 5.10 Test Yourself
I was thinking about suggesting Kirby or statamic. If you have suggestions, I’m open. Send me a tweet. Budget is also import, Squarespace is not an option. ↩