Friday August 9, 2019

Quick survey on what’s coming:

  1. Linking never has been so easy.
  2. Finally no hassle with title and alt attributes.
  3. More and more Markdown-written documents.

Some time past by since I learned about Markdown and begin to incorporate it into My workflow. Earlier on I told You what especially drew my attention to it - now I can add a little more to the big picture, thanks to the experience I’ve gained over the time. To be more precise: extended Markdown writing allowed me to point out explicitly what turned out to be a tangibly significant advantage of switching to this format. So let’s get to the point.

Linking never has been so easy.

Before Markdown, linking never has been a pleasant experience for me. Even with Open Live Writer in which You could just select a word and use CTRL+K to make it a hyperlink - it still has been much hassle to cover all words and phrases, keep track of each and every address and be especially careful in terms of potential typos. On top of that, there are also _blank and _top HTML attributes which You might consider important to differentiate Your website hyperlinks’ desired behavior.

Now it is much better. What surprises me most is that the whole thing is not only easier, but has become so simple that encourages me to include hyperlinks wherever possible (!). For example, if a particular app name is present a couple of times within one article - I used to hyperlink only its first instance... because of laziness. Now, finally, it’s not disheartening to do it each and every time the name shows up.

But what about my previous consideration - and why exactly the whole thing became easier?

“...keep track of each and every address and be especially careful in terms of potential typos...”

Now, if You’d like to hyperlink all the instances of a particular word or a phrase, You don’t need to copy&paste the link address each and every time. With Markdown - and especially my favorite, so-called reference-style hyperlinks - You just need to insert the link address only once, regardless of how many times it shows up within the text. Moreover, You don’t even have to do this in order to mark where Your hyperlinks should be placed: it will be enough to mark it

[like this][1]

and Your link will be ready (You can fill its address later, below the article text).

So now You have three scenarios to choose: either You won’t bother Yourself with hyperlinks while writing at all, or You will do it completely - or (my favorite one) You’ll just point out where those hyperlinks should be placed, and fill their addresses later on, when it won’t be bothering Your creative process. Moreover, with the help of AutoHotkey and my Markdown-dedicated script, You can make this pointing out even easier: just select the text You’d like to link and press CTRL+K - now You only need to insert the link’s ID within the last square brackets (I prefer to use just numbers here, which I find the easiest and fastest way - moreover, being placed and numbered on the very bottom of Your document it pretty resembles a book footnotes, which I find especially appealing since I consider myself a bookworm :) ).

What You might especially like in this idea is that You’ll always have one single address defined in Your document - regardless of how many times this link is present within the content - and this makes the situation much more “typos-friendly” :) - because now, even if You’ve done some misspelling - You will be in the need to correct only one single string, and it will be automatically reflected onto all its occurrences.

As a curiosity: in case there is a word or a phrase You often hyperlink within Your articles - You may be interested into this solution of automatic hyperlinking.

“...there are also _blank and _top HTML attributes which You might consider important to differentiate Your website hyperlinks’ desired behavior...”

Although this one seems not to be included within the Markdown itself - You can easily solve this by a simple jQuery script which will make the whole thing for You: for example, it will care that all the links leading outside of Your website will be opened in a new window, while all the rest (links within Your domain) - will be opened in the same window. So You no longer need to care about _blank and _top attributes in any given way :) .

Finally no hassle with title and alt attributes.

Similar is the case of title and alt attributes, especially when it comes to images. First, it’s amazing that You can handle images almost the same way as You’ve done hyperlinks - so once again You might opt for reference-style inserting. What is fantastic is that You can incredibly easily fulfill both title and alt attributes, not even knowing that You do that ;) . For example, look at this - within Your article:

![Alt text][id]

and at the very bottom of it:

[id]: url/to/image
"Optional title attribute"

As You see, it is very easy to cover both alt and title attributes - no HTML tags needed! :) And, on top of that, the whole text remains pretty clean and readable.

In the end of the day all of it successfully inspired me to finally care about those long-skipped attributes. Furthermore, it also lead me to embrace CSS tooltips, based exactly on those title attributes - making them much more usable, not only in terms of SEO, but directly for my Readers (i.e., hover a cursor over a link and You’ll see a little bit more info on what is all about).

More and more Markdown-written documents.

To summarize it all, I find surprising that not only I am very happy after some time of switching to the Markdown, incorporating it into my work as a general rule - but it seems to be so appealing that I’ve even decided to re-write several archived articles into this wonderful, refreshed Markdown form :) . Who knows, maybe You also will join me in this contentment :) .

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