Towards My Own Markup

*Please note: this entry was written while sitting in my daughter’s hospital room. It was written for want of something to do on this the second day of her hospitalization as the timelessness and placelessness of hospitals continued to fray the edges of my consciousness. It was written in an attempt to begin to smooth some of the fraying.*

For general purposes, Markdown, as well as the other “plain text markup languages”, serves very well. I do not, however, find Markdown very conducive when I am writing either for myself or writing to think. For one, I find I do generally prefer an indented line for the beginning of a paragraph, with no blank line above or below. It’s especially useful when you are either writing through a series of short paragraphs or bits of dialogue, where the Markdown language could very well have half your screen filled with white space.

I also find that I prefer the `Creole` language’s use of equal signs for headers a better option than the hash signs, which it reserves for numbered lists. Using the hash sign also resolves the problem of having numbers get out of order as you write a list. Markdown of course fixes this as it converts to HTML, but you still have some confusion in the plain text original.

Now, one solution to developing my own markup language would be to fork a version of Markdown, in whatever programming language I would prefer to work in — there are versions of Markdown in Perl, PHP, Python, and Ruby (and I am sure there are more versions in other programming languages). My problem is that I have a pretty extensive back catalog of entries in my WordPress database, 1034 posts as of today, and most of them are in Markdown. I also have over 200 notes in MacJournal, most of which are by default marked up similarly.

It would be easy, I think, to write a script, using something like `awk`, to go through those posts and replace `\n\n` with `\n\t`. The same would be true for numbered lists — replace `^d.` with `#.` — and most uses of the hash signs for headings would be similar.

But instead of working with over one thousand bits of text, and with no real interest in double-checking if everything came out correctly, the better solution might be to proceed with my new markup language and then simply write a quick script to change it to Markdown *when I decide to make a text public*.

Mind, only some of this is brought about by my current return to command line geekery. It’s also the case that my favorite note-taking application, MacJournal, cannot sync all of my devices easily. Two (or more) computers by Dropbox? No problem. iPhone and iPad … well, you can sync but only through the abomination of getting both machines on the same network, setting them up to sync, etc. This is silly. I already have my MacJournal data sitting in a DropBox account. My iPhone can connect to my Dropbox account. Sync to that.

MacJournal can’t do that. The cool new journaling application Day One *can* sync many devices through DropBox, but it currently cannot hold images and it does not feature tags. (I suppose one could make tags work the same way I make them work in my textCMS, as hash tags, e.g. `#tag`, but that only offers me searchability not my preferred way of working with tags, via browsing.) And Day One stays away from plain text files for storage, preferring a variant of the Mac OS `plist` for formatting entries in the file system. And, too, I have to abide by its preferred markup language, which is Markdown, and not one of my own choosing. But, its UI is quite nice.