This post is part of a periodic series about The Tools I Use.
I’m a member of the Ruby Rogues Parley group. When it was a Google Groups mailing list (it’s now a Discourse forum), Chris Hunt responded to a post with a really nicely formatted message that had beautifully-styled code snippets. When asked how he did that, he pointed to Markdown Here.
I’m becoming a big fan of Markdown. It’s not perfect, but the more I use it, the more I like it for a lot of my writing. I use Octopress for this blog so I write these posts in Markdown. And of course, GitHub uses Markdown a lot as well. So I was immediately intrigued and went to investigate.
Markdown Here (MDH, for short) by Adam Pritchard is an extension for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Thunderbird, and Postbox that lets you write e-mail using GitHub-flavored Markdown and then convert it into rich text (HTML). It works for e-mail, Google Groups, the Evernote and Wordpress web interfaces, and many other places that support rich editing.
MDH supports code snippets and math formulae as well, which makes it really nice when participating in technical discussions.
You can customize the styling used by MDH, so you can make your messages look however you want.
I’ve found that MDH is quite good at round-tripping my rich text. I’ll write something, convert to HTML to see how it looks, and then convert back to Markdown to keep writing. This workflow works pretty well.
I don’t use MDH for everything, because I normally prefer plain text for e-mail and other written communication. But when I need formatting, code snippets, tables, or other rich text, MDH is my go-to choice. Apparently, I’m not the only one.
Give it a try and see what you think.