Baby steps

It is quite some time since I entered the open-source world. It’s years, long years actually. I first installed linux when I was at high school (wow, Dapper Drake is old!) and since then I was slowly picking up the tools and mindset to do things the open-source way.

First things first, I had to take a command line 1.01 since I constantly needed to do things like reset my network card, update grub to catch up on my latest distro-hopping endeavor or set up the cool looking conky I just found on the web. Some copy pasting of commands I found on the forums usually did the trick. It was a hassle but it was well worth it. Nowdays, I work with command-line programs like git, grep, pandoc or wget on a daily basis and they are great. Yum!

Second, tinkering with various settings got me to recognize the powers of plain text. I got all my writing settled around Markdown now (Markdown FTW!), but it was a looong way, baby! Naturally, the starting point was using some kind of word alternative, be it open, libre or abi. My first attempt at utilizing plain text was with Latex. It felt really good to see my texts ending up looking professional, but after some time, it got tiring to deal constantly with the incompatibility with what everyone around me was using or with the process of setting it up (with all the specifics for my native language). And above all that, I’m really not a fan of the hyphenation enforcement which ruins the reliability of fulltext search for my texts.

I turned to HTML, a language that seemed that it can meet any of my needs. It didn’t take much time to realize that it wasn’t such an obviously good choice. Although it was nice that I could load the HTML document directly to MS Word or LO Writer whenever I needed to, it was really an overkill solution since I needed to annotate my texts with a lot more (and longer) tags. Certainly, there are more lightweight solutions which don’t distract from writing that much.

So guess what followed when I learned on Gradhacker that Markdown in its simplicity (actually, it is Multimarkdown but still) can handle footnotes. I checked that pandoc could process it and from there it was green lights all the way. It’s really universal. The github repo tracking my dissertation freaked out a little from the commits converting my files to Markdown but that’s it. Now I am living my happily ever after and it seems I will stick to this one at least for a while but I know that my learning isn’t over.

I started writing user documentation for the Pitivi video editor several months ago and it just never stops. I learned to manage git remotes, branching, interactive rebase, cherry-picking etc. The git thingies took some time but the Mallard markup was easy to pick up. And I practice my writing skills, especially for clarity. Recently, I also spent some time at figuring out regular expressions with some nice results for my research. Can’t wait what will be next.

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2 thoughts on “Baby steps

  1. archerimagine

    Nice and informative article though i was not able to understand some part of it, if you want to use some editor for markdown files i will suggest you can try sublime text once.

    Reply

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