The best Markdown editor is any editor

I’ve long known and accepted that regular people view me as something of an oddball, but it’s still unnerving when I discover another aspect in which I’m out of step even with the nerds who should be my off-center kith and kin. I can reconcile my dislike of Star Wars and my complete indifference to videogames to a generational difference—I was just a few years too old when they came along. But now I see the favorable reactions to Brett Terpstra’s Markdown editor wish list, and I wonder: Am I an outcast even among Markdown users?

It’s not that I have no interest in making Markdown easier to write. I have a handful of Markdown-specific TextMate commands that I’d hate to be without. But much of Brett’s list just seems unnecessary, and a couple of items strike me as distinctly wrong. I’m going to go through the list in the same order Brett did, and I’m not going to recap his descriptions, so if you haven’t read his post, this’ll mean nothing to you.

I guess the real problem with Brett’s list and me is that I disagree with the entire notion of a Markdown editor. Markdown is just plain text—any text editor should do just fine. By design, very few of Markdown’s formatting “commands” involve more than a few normal keystrokes—this isn’t HTML or LaTeX. Trying to remember a dozen or more hotkey combinations to do things that are both relatively rare and easily accomplished with a small amount of normal typing seems like the wrong thing to be using your brain for. And, with this as my basis, I don’t believe it’s any more efficient than just typing.

The recent popularity of Markdown editors suggests I’m on the wrong side of history here. Oh, well. I’m getting used to it.

  1. It also screws up lists sometimes when I try to edit them, but it’s not fair to stain Brett’s wish with the bugs in a specific implementation. 

  2. Wait, didn’t I just say I like intelligent indentation? And don’t I use soft tabs? Yes and yes. I am large, I contain multitudes. 

  3. Actually, this applies only “enhanced” processors like MultiMarkdown and PHP Markdown Extra, as standard Markdown doesn’t have footnotes. 

  4. No, I don’t have a better idea.