AsciiDoc and AsciiDocFX

June 03, 2016 mgroves 0 Comments
Tags: markdown asciidoc tools

Since I'm a professional blogger now, I decided that I need to use a tool with a bit more functionality than a standard TinyMCE or CKEditor box.

I decided that Markdown was the way to go, so I installed MarkdownPad 2 (choco install markdownpad2). This worked fine for a bit, but there are a couple of issues:

  • In order to embed images and preview them, I had to actually put them on a public dropbox folder and use the public dropbox URLs
  • Embedding code is just a copy and paste. I can't reference another file and import the code. This means I have to manually update my md file whenever I tweak code samples.
  • I had to install Awesomium in order to use MarkdownPad 2's preview feature (why?!)

THERE ARE PROBABLY SOLUTIONS to these gripes.

But what I've found is that I like the AsciiDoc format as much as Markdown, and I like AsciiDocFX way better than MarkdownPad 2.

Embed images

In markdown, what I did was put images into a public dropbox folder, and link to the public URLs. This felt darn hacky, but I couldn't figure out how to get it to point to local files (at least not in MarkdownPad 2).

With Asciidoc, I simply specify a local folder with a metadata tag: :imagesdir: images - and that tells AsciidocFX to look for images in that subfolder.

To include an image then, I just use image::filename.png[alt text goes here]. And that does it.

Import code from source files

This is a great feature that I wish I had when I was writing my book. To include a source code file right in your document, just use include::path/to/sourcecode.cs.

That will include the entire file in your document. If you just want part of a file, you can add a comment with "tags" in it. In C#, for example:

// tag::Example1[]
public void MyCode() {
}
// end::Example1[]

And then, back in AsciiDoc, use include::path/to/sourcecode.cs[tags=Example1]. Now only the code that sits between those comments will appear in the document.

This is such a great feature, because I'm always tweaking code up until the last minute before I publish. Now I don't have to worry about the blog post getting out of sync with the actual code!

Awesomium

Not needed for AsciiDocFX. So, even if you decide to stay with Markdown, AsciiDocFX still seems like the superior tool to me.

Conclusion

I'm sure there is much more to learn about AsciiDocFX and Markdown, but I'm pretty convinced at this point. I'm going to start using AsciiDocFX for blogging (and, heaven forbid, if I write another book).

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Matthew D. Groves

About the Author

Matthew D. Groves lives in Central Ohio. He works remotely, loves to code, and is a Microsoft MVP.

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