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#1 2015-10-14 10:02:28

Destry
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From: Haut-Rhin
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Never knew Gruber had a role in Joyent

From Gruber’s page on Wikipedia:

For most of the time when Daring Fireball was a part-time project, Gruber worked as an independent web designer; between late 2005 and April 2006, Gruber’s main job was at Joyent where he helped with the TextDrive acquisition.

I never knew that, and I find it a bit surprising. I’m working on an essay, and part of it is contrasting Textile and Markdown, and includes profiles of the respective creators, which is how I just stumbled on this info. I can only imagine Gruber’s role in the acquisition of TextDrive stung to a certain degree. All the more ironic now that Markdown has seemingly become the market choice of syntax (which my thesis argues is a market quandary). I vaguely recall from one of the last articles Dean wrote, maybe a subtle reference, that he was really put back by that whole takeover thing.

I know a lot of people here don’t think much of Dean anymore, but I think Dean suffered through it all more than anyone else, and likely a lot more because of the position he was in. We can complain about not having free hosting until were dead, but he had a lot more emotional and financial stake in things, and it didn’t go well. Before TxD ruined the man, Dean was a respected and valuable contributor to the web; he had (and no doubt still does have) a unique perspective and atypical talent for things. I find it unfortunate that he’s completely abandoned it all. Even people with tainted reputations keep the web interesting. We’d be lucky to see him open Textism again at this point, if anything.1

1 He’s never going to try and take Textpattern back, so I wouldn’t worry about that, it’s not in the guy’s nature. Who here would take him seriously if he tried? Not me.

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#2 2015-10-14 10:33:38

Destry
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Re: Never knew Gruber had a role in Joyent

Destry wrote #295714:

(which my thesis argues is a market quandary).

Btw, as I’m still in the research phase, if anyone has thoughts as to why Markdown has, seemingly, become the industry default with app makers, please share them.

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#3 2015-10-14 11:58:40

colak
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Re: Never knew Gruber had a role in Joyent

Destry wrote #295715:

Btw, as I’m still in the research phase, if anyone has thoughts as to why Markdown has, seemingly, become the industry default with app makers, please share them.

Would Aaron Swartz who co-authored markdown have anything to do with it? He was widely respected and unlike Gruber or Dean, he had a huge following.


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#4 2015-10-14 12:01:39

hcgtv
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Re: Never knew Gruber had a role in Joyent

Destry wrote #295714:

1 He’s never going to try and take Textpattern back, so I wouldn’t worry about that, it’s not in the guy’s nature. Who here would take him seriously if he tried? Not me.

The lawyers would take him seriously, and there’s nothing the community could do about it.

Let’s forget about Dean for a moment, has the community voted on Textpattern.io? Not me.

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#5 2015-10-14 12:31:45

philwareham
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Re: Never knew Gruber had a role in Joyent

hcgtv wrote #295724:

Let’s forget about Dean for a moment, has the community voted on Textpattern.io? Not me.

Why does the community need to vote on that exactly? And why is that relevant to this thread topic? Please start a new topic if you think there’s something to discuss.

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#6 2015-10-14 12:37:12

jakob
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Re: Never knew Gruber had a role in Joyent

Destry wrote #295714:

I’m working on an essay, and part of it is contrasting Textile and Markdown …

Sounds interesting. It would also be interesting to chart their popularity (or not) in relation to wysiwyg tools in general … and who uses them. For instance, the simplified markup notations are probably more popular among ‘web makers’ than they are among web users. In the meantime, however, people in general have also grown more used to the idea of perhaps not really needing 20 different buttons when all they want to do is write…

My guess is that textile and markdown were both a response to the bloat and poor code of word-style html output. Textile tried to more truly replicate more of the web’s ‘feature set’ while markdown went for greater simplification. In terms of notation, they are mostly similar in their approach, but as Markdown does less, it’s quicker to explain. Also non-web people probably understand number of hashes #, ######## for heading depth and a > symbol for a quote better than h1h6 or bq, so one might argue that Markdown is a smidgeon easier to grasp.

Since then there have been various extensions to the feature set of markdown. At the same time, I bet most textile users, only rarely use the more specific features.

As a seasoned textile user, I sometimes find markdown’s limitations frustrating. In my other main sphere of work, where I often write thousands of words a day, iAwriter’s markdown interface suffices for me in all but one or two specific aspects.

Your suggestion about syntax highlighting textile in the write panel is good as a bridge for those used to wysiwyg interfaces. It simultaneously tones down the notation, leaving the text standing out, while also providing visual clues to what the “cryptic“ notation means.

Markdown has seemingly become the market choice of syntax

BTW: Textile was for a while popular in other contexts, notably in Basecamp.

hcgtv wrote #295724:

Let’s forget about Dean for a moment …

I agree, though maybe not for the same reason as you meant. The main textpattern domain(s) has(ve) been regularly paid up (every two years judging by the whois info) all these years and there hasn’t actually ever been a problem. Thanks to you, Phil, Peter, Pete (and others) there are fallback options too.

The main argument for moving to a new domain – as I see it – is the ability to manage the transition ahead of any lack of availability.

On a side note: Destry, I found your even-handed consideration of Dean good.


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#7 2015-10-14 14:51:21

Destry
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Re: Never knew Gruber had a role in Joyent

Colak,

Yeah, Swartz is duly noted in my research and will be a factor in my thesis (as a contributing developer to Markdown). Gruber’s beginnings in compsci before undertaking a blog for a living (i.e., before becoming a writer) is also a factor. And yes, both of their celebrity is a factor as well, which emphasizes the “quandary” of it all.

Jakob,

Thanks. We seem to have similar impressions, as well tastes in text editors ;) But it’s interesting you say this…

non-web people probably understand number of hashes #, ## … ###### for heading depth and a > symbol for a quote better than h1 … h6 or bq, so one might argue that Markdown is a smidgeon easier to grasp.

I’m actually arguing the opposite, but the essay goes into more depth than just surface-level explanation of the languages, because in reality it’s a lot more nuanced than that. A person’s background, tech experience, familiarity with basic HTML concepts, etc all play a role. And we are 11+ years later; more of the world is web wise now.

I’m also basing my position on a few times where I’ve explained the two languages to non users of either syntax (but well aware of standard markup), and they’ve said back that if they needed/wanted to use one, they’d choose Textile because of the way the syntax more closely matches names of the represented elements (thus, from their particular schema, Textile’s syntax was more intuitive).

I think for real content people, it’s a more understandable approach than the more cryptic symbolism of Markdown, whereas Markdown probably suits a developer-turned-writer’s model better. It would make a really good usability study first, actually, at least with the writer camp. Not sure I’ll go that deep down the rabbit hole though.

Ultimately, the purpose of this essay isn’t to be right one way or the other, but to shake up the status qua, and to get app makers of writing applications to ponder another perspective. Have you seen any editor out there designed for writers that has the quality of iA Writer and supports Textile the same way? Even a subset of Textile? Even as an option? No. They don’t exist. There’s a big gap there, and an opportunity for an app maker to stand out from the sheep.

I want the industry to hear that, so this essay will go on Medium. Flies will land on it like juicy poop.

Last edited by Destry (2015-10-14 15:10:05)

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#8 2015-10-14 15:29:52

jakob
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Re: Never knew Gruber had a role in Joyent

A person’s background, tech experience, familiarity with basic HTML concepts, etc all play a role

… and …

they’d choose Textile because of the way the syntax more closely matches names of the represented elements

I agree with you entirely. I’m just not sure how many normal web users think in terms of HTML, even with the 11 years gathered experience. I venture that many won’t know that it’s called a block quote (especially those from non-English language backgrounds), but almost everyone is familiar with an > at the beginning of the line from emails. You may be right with h1-h6 and the more abstract rows of #s.

One way or the other, I’m looking forward to your article. And coming from you, I’m sure it will be an entertaining read.


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#9 2015-10-14 16:12:06

Destry
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From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,852
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Re: Never knew Gruber had a role in Joyent

jakob wrote #295733:

I venture that many won’t know that it’s called a block quote (especially those from non-English language backgrounds), but almost everyone is familiar with an > at the beginning of the line from emails.

I’ve overlooked the relevance of i18n (again), so thanks. And the familiarity of the “>“mark with email is a good note.

As a user of both syntaxes, I see advantages either way, but for me they are greater toward Textile. Now to convince an aspiring app maker enough to at least add an option for Textile, if not full sole support. ;)

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#10 2015-10-14 16:24:47

michaelkpate
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From: Avon Park, FL
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Re: Never knew Gruber had a role in Joyent

Here’s what I wrote last year on the topic:

michaelkpate wrote #283387:

Great Man Theory.

Markdown was the creation of Jon Gruber, who was (and is) immensely popular among Apple Fanboys. In the early days of Textile and Textpattern, Dean wasn’t quite as popular but he did have a genuine following.

You would think that the technology would sink or swim on it’s own but that isn’t what happened. Markdown has had a kind of constant low-level marketing campaign that has really paid off.

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#11 2015-10-14 16:34:59

Destry
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From: Haut-Rhin
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Posts: 4,852
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Re: Never knew Gruber had a role in Joyent

Thanks, MP. You’ll probably get a link out of it.

And, yep, I see the same kind of thing.

It hasn’t been all roses in that camp though. Jeff Atwood’s attempt to steamroll a Markdown standard caused quite a ruckus in 2012. That didn’t make Gruber happy at all, and the effort stalled as far as I know. Anyone know what the status on that might be?

Last edited by Destry (2015-10-14 17:14:35)

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#12 2015-10-15 23:42:56

bici
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Re: Never knew Gruber had a role in Joyent

Destry wrote #295714:

I never knew that, and I find it a bit surprising.

i got involved with Textdrive because of Gruber and Dan Benjamin . Gruber also knew about text pattern early on


…. texted postive

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