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Quite long ago, I started to use Tufte style for my blog posts. The liquid tags used is from Immaculate. As with all plain-text formatting, these tags eventually get in the way. From Word-like WISIWIG to plain-text formats like the venerated Tex or much simpler ones Markdown or Org-mode, the key differences are whether the formatting tags are seen and how demanding the formatting requirement is. The formatting requirement of Tufte style is more demanding than conventional markdown documents and thus the tags feel more cluttering. As a weekend project, I hacked a markdown-tufte extension for Emacs. It help me cope with the sidenote/marginnote mess.


The above is the screenshot for the extension. You can find the code at markdown-tufte, it’s still just a hack and packaged as a spacemacs layer.

And the rest of this post are some thoughts (murmuring).

The question of writing too little

Often as it is, my thoughts upon why I’ve written so little did myself no good. Nevertheless, this is still what I did in the last weekend.

I thought that I was busy, that I was learning too many things in the meantime, that I did not really write nothing as there are some unfinished drafts laying around, that I was lazy and undisciplined, that the tool chain was too complicated.

All these excuses have some truth in it. And I started with the tool chain - the concrete one. Yes, more disciplines about writing have been written down and I shall carry them out by the words! Well, at least so I claimed ;P

The quest for better tool.

The old habit tool was over-engineered and are being converted to simple bash script. But for the weekend, I looked at the editor and the environment with/under which I author and publish.

Here are the requirements for the editor:

Visual Studio Code

Behind the scene VSCode uses the same technology as Atom editor, and I like Web technology pioneered by HTML5 and ES6_. To me, VSCode is the best offer from Microsoft to the open source community (other than WLS, Windows Linux Subsystem, maybe, if WLS is more stable and has less edge corners.)

Well, if some day I do not use Emacs any more, this would be my number 1 choice. Other than Tufte support, it has everything I want. And it might just take a few days hacking to put together an extension to add support for Tufte anyway.

The problem is, for post writing, it doesn’t beat Emacs and I know one thing or two about how to write ELisp, a plus for Emacs. If I need to do some Web hacking, particularly in TypeScript/JavaScript, it would be my choice.


A flavour of Markdown from RStudio. Among all other features, this one supports Tufte style.

It’s just that RStudio is a beast and I am not doing any data science, yet. Also I only used RStudio once before to learn some basics about R and it was quite a while ago. The learning cost would be too high just for the posts.


Writage is a tool … converting MS Word to Markdown! It’s still early stage, and it’s not open source, though it is “available for free trial” for now. Despite all above, it’s an interesting project: after all, like it or hate it, MS Word is the king of the WISIWIG world.

About Habit and Discipline

My previous English teacher Alex Just two weeks ago, we had the last class. He is a funny guy. His class makes you feel like a group of young folks chitchatting together, sharing childhood stories and small, funny quarrels with his Chinese girlfriend. said he forced himself to write something in the early morning to form a habit of writing. Anything, anything will do, even lines like “I do not know why I am sitting here, I do not have anything to write, and I just forced myself to do so. Oh, I just finish brushing my teech and blabla”. And by this method, as he claimed, he manages to finish writing a book about his 4-year stay in China.

I should learn something from this.

Less Discipline

While writing this post, I noticed what a bliss it is not to try to get reference for everything. I wrote once before that references are important. I still believe so, but the extra work for references might as well cost my writing productivity. As thus the benefits do not justify the cost. Let’s only make important references for important posts. And along this line we should relax some of the rules I laid before about writing to encourage writing more.


Well, this post also serves as a test ground for the markdown-tufte extension, so far so good. Happy posting now ;)

Comment: Github Issue