HTML lite

I thought it might be nice for a change to veer away from the topic on everyone’s mind, and talk about something really nerdy instead. In particular, I want to talk about how I take notes on my computer.

I love to be able to type in plain text, with my hands always on the keyboard. That’s why I don’t like to take notes using tools like Google Docs, which ask me to keep moving my cursor to a menu bar and click on stuff every time I want to format something.

So I’ve developed an (admittedly very nerdy) technique for note taking. I just type in plain text into an HTML file.

I do it using my favorite text editor, vi (I told you I was nerdy). But right at the top of the file, I put a <pre> tag.

What that does is tell the web browser (where I will later review my notes) not to do any formatting at all. Everything gets spaced out precisely the way I typed it, just as it would in a plain text file.

Except, since this is HTML, I can still type things like <b>, <i>, <u>, <li>, <hr>, <font …> and all of the other useful stuff HTML lets me do. So I can still create bold, italics, underlines, lists with bullet points, horizontal lines, tinted text and all that cool stuff. But it never gets in my way.

Yes, I realize that unlike Google Docs, it’s not WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”). But that doesn’t bother me, because I have no trouble reading my own mark-up while I am typing my notes.

The important thing is that I never need to take my fingers off the keyboard. That means I am never distracted by from whatever else is going on by searching for things in menus on my screen.

I suspect there are text editors out there, like Emacs, which would let me use macros to do all this by hitting hotkeys as I type. But then I’d need to learn a whole new editor.

And I don’t want to do that. Because at the end of the day, I am very lazy.

3 thoughts on “HTML lite”

  1. You sound like an ideal candidate for Markdown. It uses obvious symbols in plain text (e.g. marking words *like this* for emphasis). It’s completely readable as it’s typed, yet you always the option of converting to “real” HTML.

  2. Thanks! I realize this is going to sound very nerdy, but I am familiar with Markdown, and I actually prefer the more precise control I get using my method. Also the fact that I don’t need to do any translation to HTML, since it’s already in HTML.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *