As regular readers know we are heavy users of Basecamp. This month is the first time in a while I’m not happy about our subscription as we’ve had to move up to the Elite Suite at $249 month as we’ve run out of Basecamp projects at 100 (we’ve been rotating them for awhile but five more projects came in and there just isn’t space). For those who are counting, that’s $3000/year for a software subscription.
Basecamp uses Textile as the main editor (well 37signals have added some kind of WYSIWYG editor lately but for those of us writing messages, comments and writeboards for the last seven years, Textile is in our blood).
So what I want to be able to do is write all my posts and drafts in Textile and then convert them to html for publication (saving the original in Textile for further editing).
For a while I used iTextile a wrapper around a Python script. It worked pretty well but was kind of ugly and not customizable. I gave up on iTextile due to ergonomics. When I went to fire it up again yesterday, it turns out iTextile is PPC only and requires Rosetta. On my most recent machines, I’ve managed to get rid of Rosetta completely so I was warned about installing Rosetta. I’d prefer not to have the emulator overhead hanging around waiting to steal memory and cycles, so I said no.
There is an interesting application called MarkMyWords from xelaton.com in Germany. MarkMyWords allows you to write in the mark up language of your choice (important ones include Markdown, Textile, BBcode and Wiki syntax) and get html out on the other end.
Preview is live which is very cool.
MarkMyWords does what it promises very well and even includes full screen and distraction free modes. If you are looking for a new text editor, MarkMyWords has a lot to recommend it.
MarkMyWords edit window
- MarkMyWords is another application to install and maintain and learn across all your computers
- MarkMyWords requires a change in workflow (I write mainly in BBEdit and other people have their own text editor prefernces)
- The icon is fussy and ugly.
Textile Editing on BBEdit
At this point, I was thinking what I really need is to get Textile into BBEdit. I don’t know why the BareBones guys have been so lazy about adding a Textile module themselves. Apparently there’s been Markdown syntax for a long time.
I found a reasonably good article about how to add Textile to BBEdit but the explanations aren’t very clear and one of the download links is broken and the other doesn’t give the right filename when unpacked. [Update: dpkendal’s original version was broken – our own Martin Vicenik has fixed it for you and uploaded it.]
So for non-programmers, here’s how to get Textile editing working on BBEdit:
- download our Textil.sh filter from Github.
- unpack the very long file gist1348479-0d1929ba5ff2b3e2b4293dd63254604b72d62b58.tar
- you will get a folder with a file with this name in it: “Textile.sh”
Note:If the github ever disappears, here’s a local copy. We found that this script has some bugs in it’s current version (the constants are not properly added). Before this gets submited to Github.com download the fixed version here: Textile.sh.zip
Our version also won’t convert single and double quotes to HTML entities. This should be an option in the original version, hopefully our changes get into Github.com soon.
- move this file to /Users/~/Library/Application Support/BBEdit/Unix Support/Unix Filters/
- go ahead and write some Textile
- open up the Unix Filters palette: Windows -> Palettes -> Unix Filters
- you should see Textile.sh at the bottom
- when you are ready to convert your Textile to html, just doubleclick the Textile.sh item. You can create a hot key as well (very useful)
- as it’s BBEdit you can see your html and get a preview of it and then just use undo (command-Z) to get back to the Textile version for further editing
- when you save your file, make sure you save the textile version
- for bonus points before posting into WordPress or even Basecamp run the html optimize filter on the result to get rid of all line breaks: Markup -> Utilities -> Optimize
BBEdit unix filters palette
Bingo, you now have full Textile writing inside of BBEdit at zero cost. Apparently this filter will work for other text editors which accept php filters (TextMate among others) but I can’t provide step by step instructions as BBEdit 8.7.2 is my weapon of choice.
I may still buy MarkMyWords as I have something of a fetish for text and html editors (own at least ten of them) and earn my living writing and coding. $25 for another work tool is no big deal. But I wouldn’t encourage it’s adoption across our company as that would be $200 for what most people wouldn’t use nearly enough. Our programmers will be much happier with a working php script. On the other hand, Textile.sh doesn’t require me to change my workflow at all.
This article full of ordered and unordered lists was written in BBEdit and Textile.sh with no issues.
Marked does not get a review here as Marked is AppStore only. I will not sign into or buy anything from the AppStore or even let it run on my computers (the AppStore is effectively a back door).
Alec has been helping businesses succeed online since 2000. Alec is an SEM expert with a background in advertising, as a former Head of Television for Grey Moscow and Senior Television Producer for Bates, Saatchi and Saatchi Russia.
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