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Writing in Markdown with Gonzo

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Last August on ProfHacker Lincoln wrote about Markdown, which he called “the syntax you (probably) already know.”

Designed primarily by John Gruber, Markdown is a way to format your documents in plain text, meaning your work is readable on any computer, smartphone, or tablet, now and long into the future.

Markdown documents are also easily convertible to other formats (see, for example, Lincoln’s introduction to Pandoc, a document conversion tool).

While Markdown’s basic formatting syntax, such as *italics*, is easy to learn and read, people who grew up writing in WYSIWYG environments like Microsoft Word can still find it awkward to see their work rendered on the screen in a way that’s different from the final product.

This is where Gonzo comes in.

Gonzo is a free, open source Markdown editor. Gonzo runs in Adobe Air, making it cross-platform. But what really sets Gonzo apart from any other plain text editor you might use to write in Markdown is that it creates an on-the-fly live preview of what your Markdown will look like. The panel on the left side is where you write, while the right panel shows a preview, or, if you click the HTML tab, the HTML equivalent of the Markdown you’ve written. If you’re comfortable working without the preview, you can resize the panel or make it disappear completely.

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You can save your files in either Markdown (which is really plain text, with a .md extension instead of a .txt extension) or HTML format.

If you already like working in Markdown, Gonzo might be a lightweight writing environment for you. If you’re new to Markdown, then Gonzo might make a good learning tool. And if you’re simply curious about Markdown, Gonzo is an ideal playground to experiment with the syntax and immediately see the results.

Do you write in Markdown? If so, do you use any special editor? Are you skeptical about Markdown? Why?

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