The Journey to Markdown: On Day One

“Well, this is going to be interesting.” – Yours truly on learning Markdown

The first thoughts I had when I took on this challenge was whether or not I’d be able to find the time to do it…even though I’ve been told it wouldn’t take up all that much time to begin with. I’m working on a bunch of projects, preparing for a talk, working on a book and trying to help my wife get our daughter ready for school. Learning Markdown over the course of the long weekend wasn’t exactly going to be the only thing on my mind.

But with the encouragment of others and further reserach as to what I was in for, I steeled myself and took the plunge. And this is what happened on Day One of said plunge.


I spent quite a bit of time just reading about this new language I was learning. There are plenty of resources out ther, and parsing through them took a bit of time itself. Ultimately, I settled on what Byword had to offer me in terms of help, since I’d be using that application as my primary Markdown writing tool during this process. Byword has both a Markdown guide and Syntax guide to review, and I found those invaluable as I started my journey. I’m all about going to one place to find what I need, and Byword had me covered with these handy tools. I know I’ll be referring to them regularly.


Next up was practicing the writing aspect of Markdown. This post was written using it somewhat but I have to admit that I wanted this first post to be more about baby steps than anything else. So what you’ll see in here is a little bit of dabbling in Markdown, and not much else.

I’ve decided that I’m going to use a number of tools in adopting Markdown as my main online writing language:

  1. Byword and nvALT on my MacBook Air
  2. Writing Kit on my iPad
  3. The aforementioned resources built into Byword (Markdown and Syntax guides)
  4. Plenty of coffee

The elements of Markdown that I used in this article are limited to:

  • Links
  • Headers
  • Italicizing/bolding of terms
  • This list and the numbered one above

I have to say that I’m loving how links work in this language. Using the square parantheticals allows for quick linking and a faster typing rate. Linking was often the one thing that slowed me down, with all of the highlighting and HTML coding involved. Markdown makes it faster and less likley that I’m going to miss a quotation marks or forget to close out the link. I’m alsomt convinced that John Gruber was spurred on to create Markdown at first because he hated linking in HTML. Regardless, it’s the biggest boon to me so far.

I didn’t use any shortcuts in creating these lists, mainly because I wanted to hit things up in long form first. Once I’ve got those down, I’ll be using shortcuts wherever and whenever I can.

I wasn’t going to put any images in this post, either. But it looks so easy that I’m going to give it a try:

Wow. Byword made that incredibly simple. Even with using the more traditional Markdown syntax, I no longer look like i do in the above photo — frustrated with embedding images via HTML. Instead, I can spend that time getting to work on this (which is clickable, by the way):

Mike Vardy’s Secret Book Project

And that makes me happy.

So I’d say that Day One was pretty awesome. The next step is to dig into both Byword and nvALT, along with other Mac tools to get me further down the Markdown rabbit hole.

The thing about this rabbit hole is that there’s a light at the end of it. And I’m headed towards it…full speed ahead.

Next up…The Journey to Markdown: On the Mac