14 August 2020
A couple of days in the past, a reader requested about what I exploit to do all my on-line writing. People typically have some fairly robust opinions about their writing instruments, and whereas most of them have their makes use of, for me, it’s in regards to the format of the saved information. All of my writing is saved as textual content, both ASCII or UTF-8.
I’m sufficiently old to have entered the digital age through the wild west of file codecs. Each phrase processor had its personal proprietary file format. In case you don’t have entry to the unique utility, you might be typically out of luck. So that you printed out something you actually wished to maintain. Whereas I’ve digital information from the Nineties, they’re mainly unreadable on their very own. The 2 exceptions are LaTeX and HTML information.
I began utilizing LaTeX as an undergraduate due to its capacity to typeset equations. Earlier than LaTeX, you’ll kind out your paper, leaving some house for equations that you just then wanted to rigorously handwrite. LaTeX had a fairly steep studying curve, nevertheless it allow you to write equations as code. If you printed your paper, the equations have been completely typeset, simply as you’ll see in a analysis journal. It was superb. Since .tex information are saved as textual content, they’re nonetheless completely readable. The equation parts can look a bit complicated, however you possibly can determine it out. What’s extra, fashionable LaTeX variations learn outdated information completely wonderful. I can nonetheless render and print each science paper I’ve written, from undergrad to at present.
I began messing about with HTML in early 1994 after I made my first webpage whereas in grad college. Previous HTML was on no account standardized, my first web page nonetheless renders in a contemporary browser. My early websites have been coded by hand however finally moved over to web site turbines comparable to MovableType or WordPress. I’ve a static-page archive of each website I did from 1994 to at present, and so they nonetheless work simply wonderful.
As of late (apart from the issues I handwrite) my writing is finished in some variation of Markdown. For instance, this web site is generated by Hugo, the place every put up is a Markdown file with a couple of shortcodes. Write the put up, and Hugo creates it for you.
That’s the place the true energy of Markdown lies. Since it’s simply textual content with normal notations for headers, italics, hyperlinks, and the like, it may be transformed to any file format actually simply. Write one thing in Markdown, and you’ll rework it into something from a Phrase doc to an internet site. And since I’m simply typing textual content, I can concentrate on the writing quite than format and typography.
To reply your query, expensive reader, I simply write issues in textual content with a textual content editor. It isn’t fancy, nevertheless it works for me.