2015-06-12

Personal plain text workflow

I don't remember exactly when I realized the beauty and efficiency of plain text for the first time, but since I did at least more than 15 years ago, I've become an enthusiastic supporter-cum-user of this future-proof format. I have good reason to believe that none of my colleagues and students in Israel understands what I'm talking about. Unfortunately, they are using what I consider the worst crapware called Microsoft Word. Please don't get me wrong. This isn't another Microsoft-bashing. I believe that Windows after version 2000 is the best operating system, at least for polyglots like myself, but I refuse to use any other software program by this company simply because every other program is bloated. I'm both a minimalist ("Less is more") and an essentialist ("Less but better").

I don't think many people take the trouble of checking my occasional kvetching, that is, this blog-shmog, but I feel I have to write just for the record what I've been thinking about this issue as well as what constitutes my personal plain text workflow. But before I continue, I'd like to ask what few visitors to this specific blog entry to read first the following amazing pieces: Word Processors: Stupid and Inefficient, Plain Text, and Plaintext Productivity.

It took me a while to come to realize the irreversible damage word processors, especially Microsoft Word, did to about 99% of the people on this planet in terms of computer literacy. In my humble opinion word processors should be the last thing to be taught. So what's so wrong with them? The main problem is that they obscure the distinction between three things - 1) text, which is always the most important thing, 2) its logical structure, and 3) its physical layout. Word processors tempt their naive users to waste too much time in the last aspect, which is, of course, the least important thing, which you have to assign to a professional typesetter.

Fine, here is my personal plain text workflow. The kind of software I use most frequently is a text editor, or to be more precise, text editors. In computing, bigamy or polygamy is allowed. ;-) This is the most fundamental thing. I looked for my ideal text editor for years, until my search came to an end when I met EditPad Pro. You have to be very computer-savvy to appreciate this super-amazing program! Simply amazing! I do my varous note-taking with this unbelievable text editor.

When it comes to the so-called distraction-free (or "zenware") writing, I've recently stumbled upon a free writing tool for Windows called WriteMonkey. I recommend this nifty tool to every user of Windows who is also a zenwriter. I'm writing these lines with it now. Such a pleasure - totally distraction-free!

And as for more complicating writing like academic writing, I've been a big fan of Scrivener, but only together with the so-called MultiMarkdown. The process of combining the two is rather complicated, especially for those who use Microsoft Word for every possible writing. I seem to need a separate blog entry about all the technical procedures or even a webpage.