Karl Voit on the Superiority of Org Mode Markup

I’ve been following a tweet discussion between Karl Voit and several others over the relative merits of light weight markup languages. You can get a feel for the arguments by expanding the following:

Tweets are not, of course, a very good platform for making reasoned arguments about technical issues or anything else for that matter so Voit has pulled his arguments into a blog post in which he make the case that Org-Mode Is One of the Most Reasonable Markup Language to Use for Text. As I’ve said many times, I do almost all my writing these days in Org mode so I already agreed with his conclusion but Voit makes a good case for his conclusion.

He looks at several light weight markup languages such as Org mode, Markdown, AsciiDoc, Wikitext, and reStructuredText and identifies how Org is superior to them. He notes that Org is better even without Emacs because you can write it in any editor and use tools like pandoc to get it into whatever final form you need.

Of course, the right tools make all the difference and using Org markup from within Emacs is a real win. Still, even some people who prefer not to use Emacs, write Org markdown in some other editor and convert it using pandoc. Even if you don’t already agree that Org syntax is the best, be sure to read Voit’s post. He’s got some good arguments and may convince you.

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  • Bubbles

    Org-mode can be written in any text-editor. Is that really the argument we are making? Yes it can be written in any text-editor, I can also try and peel a banana with my feet.

    • jcs

      No, the point is that it needn't be restricted to Emacs only. In this respect, it's just like, say, Markdown. You can write both with any editor and they both need some (usually) not-integrated package to format the output to the desired form

    • Phil

      I'm not sure there's a strongly compelling reason to use the org formatting (or use it strictly) if no one will be opening the files in Emacs; however I think the author's point is mostly that if you're looking for a way to structure documents in plain text, org's syntax is a pretty decent way to do so.

      If someone is using Emacs, OTOH, then there's a good argument that org files can be passed around and edited by other people in other editors and, provided they follow the existing conventions of the file, the end results are reasonably likely to come back to the Emacs user still in valid org format.

    • Phil

      I'm not sure there's a strongly compelling reason to use the org formatting (or use it strictly) if no one will be opening the files in Emacs; however I think the author's point is mostly that if you're looking for a way to structure documents in plain text, org's syntax is a pretty decent way to do so.

      If someone is using Emacs, OTOH, then there's a good argument that org files can be passed around and edited by other people in other editors and, provided they follow the existing conventions of the file, the end results are reasonably likely to come back to the Emacs user still in valid org format.

  • Piers Cawley

    If your only target is the web, then it’s worth taking a look at Textile, which has its annoyances, but can also add classes and ids to text without breaking out into HTML. But it lost, so it’s not supported by pretty much anything these days. Org markup can do much more, and over a wider variety of uses, but textile hit my sweet spot for writing blog posts.