My preferred writing environment

When working from home, my preferred writing environment is to use a huge fixed-width font on a large monitor with a matte finish, and nothing else on the screen. I write my text using either Markdown or LaTeX, depending on what the output format is going to be. And Yoda and Meditating Guy make me feel a little less crazy when I’m talking to myself. ;)

A little Scala project to convert AsciiDoc to clean, simple HTML

Table of Contents1 - A shell script solution2 - A JavaFX GUI3 - Summary

I recently started using AsciiDoc to write a new book. A great thing about it is that unlike Markdown, you can use AsciiDoc to write a book and get all of the features you want in a book, including linking between anything, captions for tables and figures, indexes, etc. Because this got me started using AsciiDoc I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could also use AsciiDoc to write blog posts like this one?”

Sadly, I quickly ran into a problem: I couldn’t find a good way to convert AsciiDoc into HTML, or even Markdown. There are tools to convert AsciiDoc to HTML, but for some reason they take the approach of including a ton of markup in the HTML (divs, spans, and attributes), and as far as I can tell there’s no way to turn off that markup.

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A shell script solution

How to convert asciidoc to markdown

It turns out that converting AsciiDoc to HTML without including a bunch of undesired CSS is a problem, and converting AsciiDoc to Markdown is also a problem. The page I linked to shows the best way I’ve found to convert AsciiDoc to Markdown, which can then be converted to CSS-free HTML. In case that page ever disappears, the basic commands are:

Install pandoc and asciidoc:

sudo apt install pandoc asciidoc

Convert asciidoc to docbook:

asciidoc -b docbook foo.adoc

Convert docbook to markdown:

A custom TextMate command that uses ‘sed’

In this post I share the contents of a custom TextMate command I just created that uses pandoc and sed to convert markdown content in the TextMate editor to a “pretty printer” version of HTML:



# note: 'sed -E' gives you the advanced regex's

# use pandoc to convert from markdown to html,
# then use sed to clean up the resulting html
pandoc -f markdown -t html |\
sed -Ee "/<p|<h2|<h3|<h4|<aside|<div|<ul|<ol/i\\

You can try to use a command like tidy to clean the HTML, but the version of tidy I have does not know about HTML5 tags. The TextMate Markdown plugin also doesn’t work the way I want it. Besides that, I’m trying to learn more about writing TextMate commands anyway.

As an important note, when you set this up as a TextMate command and then run it, it will convert the TextMate editor contents from markdown to HTML.

(In a related note, is also a good resource for TextMate command and bundle documentation.)

In summary, this code shows:

* How to execute a Unix shell command from TextMate
* Specifically, how to execute a sed command from TextMate
* How to use modern regular expressions with sed (the -E option)
* How to search for multiple regex search patterns with sed

Markdown comments syntax: Comments that won’t appear in generated output

Markdown FAQ: How do I create comments in Markdown? Especially comments that won’t appear in the generated output.

Part 1 of my answer is that technically there is no way — or at least no standard way — to create comments in Markdown documents, other than to use HTML comments like this:

Getting started converting documents with Pandoc

I’m looking into producing my Scala/FP book as a PDF, and as part of that I have been looking into Pandoc. With the exception of converting HTML tables into other formats such as Markdown or LaTeX, Pandoc has been working well so far.

Here are a couple of Pandoc commands to show you how easy this is:

A custom TextMate 2 bundle to underline the current line

I just created a TextMate 2 bundle to underline the current line, and this image shows how I created that bundle. The dashed-line will be the same length as the line the cursor is currently on (the current line). I do this a lot when I use TextMate to write notes and even Markdown text, so I wanted a little script/bundle like this.

FWIW, the result of this bundle/command is that I can have the cursor be on a line like “Hello, world,” as shown below, press [Command][u], and end up with this:

Hello, world

Mac OS X: Unix sed commands I use to clean MacDown HTML output

FWIW, this is the source code for a sed script I use on my Mac OS X system to convert HTML output generated by MacDown into a format I need. MacDown generates some extra “cruft” that I don’t need, so I use these sed commands to clean up that HTML output: