[conspire] markdown and pandoc

Nick Moffitt nick at zork.net
Thu Apr 19 02:52:53 PDT 2012

Dan Bikle:
> Generally for me,
> Higher Level is better.
> LyX now on my Radar.

I have to say that I like "higher-level" markup specifically in that I
prefer my source text to be as legible and readable as possible.  To
that end I can't stand HTML's requirement that you insert a flurry of
tags with awkward-to-type </> characters just to make a new paragraph.
I would always start with something that respects a blank line as a
paragraph separator.  

I've come to enjoy pandoc, which uses an advanced dialect of markdown
as its preferred source markup language.  It supports some of the
features of TeX/LaTeX (bibliographic citations, for example) that aren't
in pure markdown, but it won't do everything.  

But for the most part, pandoc source documents look just like 
1990s Usenet ascii-only markup traditions.  You have *italics* and
**bold** and > for quoted matter, and indentation has the effects you'd
hope for.

You can specify custom templates for each of the output formats (HTML,
LaTeX->PDF, epub, etc.) if you need better styling.  A friend of mine
has been working on a no-nonsense stylesheet for the sort of bare HTML
pandoc spits out:

	(live examples at http://zork.net/~st/typesetter/ )

The goal of this project is to set good typographical defaults for
things, rather than splash art-school design elements all over the
place.  I kind of wish I could reliably insert this stuff into my
browser defaults somehow!

One other nice thing is that pandoc actually *parses* the markdown,
instead of just being a match-and-pray series of regexes (as is the
original markdown reference implementation).  This is really helpful in
its goal of being a translator between formats.  You can even feed in an
HTML document and have it spit out mostly-correct markdown for you.  I
wonder if I can use that as my reader for the odd html-only mail...

I used to like reST (as used by Python projects for documentation), but
the HTML spat out by the docutils processors is really uncomfortable to
work with in CSS.

You are in an open field west of a big white house
with a boarded front door.
There is a small mailbox here.
> _

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