« A chimney on one floor, Duchamp's final work | Main | Fast colour. Fugitive colour - Derek Jarman: Chroma, 1994 »

August 28, 2008


I really, really love Markdown for writing long-form documents - but am never convinced it's the appropriate choice for rich-text-ifying simple text fields. It prioritises the look of the pure text version over markuppy simplicity, which, for most of the time, is the correct approach imho... but not for just *filing a ticket*.

That said: the Ruby textile/markdown library isn't super-consistent in its interpretation of either spec. There have been some recent attempts at overhauling it (http://tomayko.com/writings/ruby-markdown-libraries-real-cheap-for-you-two-for-price-of-one), but I'm not sure how many retail products these are making it into.

I found Lighthouse good-but-not-great, but it appears to be improving at a rate of knots. I am very glad, however, both for you and your customers, that you're moving off Mantis. It terrified me ;)

"prioritises the look of the pure text version over markuppy simplicity" - is exactly the experience I've had, and I'm not sure it's better. Mind you, I've been using Textile for three years so I'm habituated...

Also Markdown (or perhaps it's just Lighthouse's implementation) seems quite unforgiving. When you render text, it either works or fails utterly. Textile seems a bit better at simply ignoring stuff it doesn't understand. I assume this is because Markdown is a lot more powerful.

A (very non-technical) thought: can my browser not perform this kind of processing for me? Then I could write whatever markup I wanted into it and it could output what the website in question expects. (Maybe that's stupid.)

And as for Mantis... it was so intimidating enough to customers that they all ignored it and used email instead.

""prioritises the look of the pure text version over markuppy simplicity" - is exactly the experience I've had, and I'm not sure it's better."

I'm definitely not sure it's better for writing fragments - comments, ticket updates. I'm pretty convinced it's nicer for writing documents; eg, if you look at John Gruber's markdown versions of his blogposts, for instance:


it makes total sense; I like how footnotes are possible, and I like how it handles quotations.

When you're writing a single paragraph, or a swift comment, I don't know that it makes as much sense. It is, however, a pure markup language - Textile tends to assume you know HTML to begin with, wheras Markdown could feasibly be converted into anything.

Given that example, I see what you mean. So it would be nice to be able to try Markdown as a format but still inject it successfully into Basecamp - but as Basecamp doesn't support it, that's what I want the browser to do for me...

Anyway, stop commenting on posts about markup Armitage. Haven't you got a post on games, or frankly a game, to be writing?!

I found your blog by searching for 'mantis lighthouse'

The 37signals guys had a discussion on their forum about how they believe Textile was a mistake in Basecamp, and they decided not to add it to Highrise.


I'm currently using Mantis, and thinking about switching to Lighthouse. Are you aware of any import tools.

Thanks for the comment and link Chris. That there isn't consistency across 37Signals's products seems a bit weird, though I understand that customer service is a valid concern for them. I'm persuaded by Tom Armitage's comments that Markdown is better for marking up long form content (though I do think that Textile looks easier to learn).

Anyway, it all reinforces my (no doubt unfeasible) desire to separate the way the website expects to receive content from the way the user might be used to writing the content, perhaps in a browser plugin or something...

As for migrating Mantis to Lighthouse, we're currently taking the coward's route and making the switch at the start of new projects, so we're not yet dealing with importing legacy tickets. If you find a useful tool, do come back at let me know!

So far, we're liking the simplicity and user-friendliness of Lighthouse compared to Mantis, and its use of milestones etc.

so comparing lighthouse with highrise? woul dlove to know your thoughts. tender supoort seems a great online ticket and community center, but using is that then over kill with lighthouse?

The comments to this entry are closed.