For a while now I’ve been using Textile when writing weblog entries. Textile — the “Humane Web Text Generator” — lets you use simple markup tags in your text rather than trying to write HTML by hand. For longer articles, I tend to write them in straight HTML in my editor, running them through Tidy if needed prior to posting.
This past week I switched over to Markdown which I’ve found to be an excellent replacement. Based on the ideas of Textile and other methods, Markdown’s goal is to present text that is perfectly readable as-is and looks even better when converted to HTML. Think of it like plain-text e-mail and you’ll get the idea. See the Markdown site for more details of the usage which is quite simple.
Markdown is available for MovableType and other platforms and will work with SmartyPants if installed. It’s a simple Perl module that also be run from the command-line, so you can do your own “preview” prior to posting. (Having the standalone module is also helpful if you ever want to migrate your weblog entries to straight HTML format.)