As you see by the date of the post below this one, it’s been several years since I posted to this blog. It started life as a blog about learning to use plain text to keep information and data. The blog title back then was Using Text (which still shows in the URL). I’ve changed the title to In My Opinion and I’ll write about just that: my opinion about things in the world around me and on the Internet.
This article says no, plain text is a lie. I don’t see it that way. The article is really talking about making sure you have your encoding correct and it does a great job of explaining why. To me, however, plain text in English is ASCII. It’s been around for over 50 years. It will render correctly in all cases. I recognize that the Internet has made it necessary to provide for other languages and that is where Unicode comes in. For that, you definitely have to make sure you announce your encoding, as the article says. The article also recommends that you read Spolsky’s article about encoding. I second that recommendation.
I have a post about Markdown. It’s about 15 or 20 screens of information with a comfortable layout with lots of whitespace. I thought it was a relatively complete description of Markdown. Now I find a McSparky book on Markdown that has 130 pages and 27 screencasts to discuss Markdown and how to use it. How do you write that much about a tool as simple and straight forward as Markdown? I don’t know yet and haven’t decided if I’ll spend the $10 to find out. But it comes highly recommended. My curiosity may get the best of me.
Not entirely about plain text, but one of the writers at ProfHacker put together a summary of their reviews and comments about tools they use. Here is the lead:
Here’s a collection of posts from the archives that focus on the use of plain text editors and alternative word processors.
I mentioned Markdown in an earlier post. Markdown is a system of markup for a plain text document designed to produce valid HTML content for the web directly from that readable text document. This is a tutorial for Markdown that I wrote mainly to learn about it. By writing a Markdown tutorial in Markdown itself, I could quickly learn all the features of the markup. Using a tool fixes it more securely in your mind than just reading about it—at least it does in mine. Continue reading
The benefits of using plain text for all the information you want to retain are simplicity, portability, and durability. Almost every application has the capability to import and use plain text. The recent example of Microsoft Word files is a good one to illustrate the barriers created by proprietary file formats. Continue reading
This is the first post of a blog I started several years ago about using plain text. I have always been fascinated by what tech experts could accomplish with plain text. They could keep notes and articles in plain text for simplicity, portability, and future retrievability, then turn those files into formatted, structured documents through the magic of markup or filters. Continue reading