Switching to Markdown for Post Source Format

I don't know why I originally started using the ReStructured Text (ReST) for writing most documents. I remember it was before I ever tried to write a blog. I used it to write Unix manual pages and similar short documentation, and then also started to use it as the ultimate source format for documents that would end up rendered as PDF or HTML, such as my resume.

By the time I tried blogging it didn't matter what the original reason was for ReST. I was already used to it, and those of you who have met me know that I form habits really easily, and get off them with great difficulty. So I looked for a blog engine with native ReST support, and found a quite good one in Pelican. Of course it helped that Pelican was implemented in Python which had been my main "practical" language for years.

I was happy with Pelican. When I started noticing the increasing adoption of Markdown (for example by GitHub) I also looked at the Markdown support in Pelican, which is there but requires the installation of a separate Python library. Through the strong lens of my ReST habit it looked too risky.

Then last week I read this praise of the Org format (the format produced and manipulated by Emacs Org-mode). It didn't make me switch to Org; that would mean either dropping Pelican or needing an additional preprocessor step. But it brought my submerged annoyances with ReST into sharp focus. I decided to switch to Markdown if I could satisfy myself that

  • it has the same features as ReST, not necessarily all of them, just those I have been using to write blog posts

  • it in fact eliminates most of the annoyances with ReST

The answers turned out to be yes and yes, and I'm keeping the promise.

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