How to wordprocess with plain text
Welcome markdown and its cousin multimarkdown. Plain text is invariably a great simple space and time saving way to convey your thoughts. Email, for example is a killer app that depends entirely on plain text with minimal formatting. Add to that the devices that are out there including the ubiquitous cell phone and other devices where we keep on taking notes including evernote and simplenote or springpad, and cloud services such as Google Docs or Dropbox. To that extent, to increase and enhance readability and write in a way that makes reading really really easy, I think markdown has no parallel. As John Gruber in daring fireball, the father of markdown format writes,
The overriding design goal for Markdown’s formatting syntax is to make it as readable as possible. The idea is that a Markdown-formatted document should be publishable as-is, as plain text, without looking like it’s been marked up with tags or formatting instructions. While Markdown’s syntax has been influenced by several existing text-to-HTML filters, the single biggest source of inspiration for Markdown’s syntax is the format of plain text email.
Markdown is remarkable, as it enables me to express (using simple sentences and paragraphs as unit of expression). Reflecting on writing, the structure becomes extremely simple.
There are several implementations of markdown to be converted to other formats for easy reading.
First, markdown itself is easy enough to read as such, and therefore requires hardly any additional effort to read.
Second, markdown can be passed through its own filter to generate its own html or xhtml structure that can then be converted to other formats
Third, using markdown and saving the file as such, it is possible to use pandoc to convert text to other formats
Fourht, I guess one can use pandoc to convert text from other formats to markdown Using a combination of markdown, latex, bibtex and pandoc and dropbox or Google Docs and blogs that let you use markdown, it’s quite possible to seamlessly keep writing and producing really useful stuff and stay productive. Plain text can be very useful alternative to complex word processing.