Scott Hanselman

Launching your Web 2.0 Site with a Giant Text Box

September 18, 2007 Comment on this post [10] Posted in Musings
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Test1 Editing Home - Windows Internet Explorer Once again, another idea *I* didn't think of. ;) There sure are some clever people on this interweb.

Aaron Swartz has launched Jottit and the homepage is brilliant. No help, no FAQ, just a big text-box and a button.

Once you've entered, the site is a Wiki-like Web-page editor that uses Markdown rather than HTML for it's Markup. The home page is just the hook.

The site is fairly complex and even allows you to claim a subdomain. You'll start with a giant textbox, and before you realize it, you've claimed a domain, chosen colors and you've got a pretty professional looking site.

If you've got a young kid who wants to make a web page, I can't think of a better way for them to start.

Homework? As an aside for the .NET folks here, there is Milan Negovan's Markdown.NET implementation. It can be useful for applications where you want a Rich Text Experience but not a Rich Text Editor. Also, anyone can learn markup languages like Markdown...the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) tends to be very high. As a programming exercise, it's a simple format and I'm sure it would be a fun project for an intern to write their own Markdown->HTML or Markdown->PDF or Markdown->Word projects.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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September 18, 2007 18:30
new LaTeX ?
September 18, 2007 18:40
Hmm, that's a pretty cool service. Nice.
September 18, 2007 18:44
Are you nobody has done this before?!
September 18, 2007 19:16
I love it, but I'd prefer a WYSIWYG over any kind of markup. Markdown is pretty cool though.

Anyone built an API for posting to jottit yet? That's the one thing I felt it was missing. Sometimes I want to generate something with a script and host it on a site.
September 18, 2007 19:21
Hey Now Scott,
This is a nifty site. In a few minutes a put up a simple page for free.
Thx 4 the info,
September 18, 2007 20:02
scott, thought you may also be interested in this new django powered web app -

this kinda jives with your markdown discussion. their about page describes some of the reasoning behind the product.
September 18, 2007 21:16
@Josh - Seems familiar, doesn't it? I haven't seen anything JUST like it.

@kevin - I'll check it out.
September 20, 2007 8:23
Templating languages like Markdown are quite cool (I prefer Textile myself), but I have a hard time seeing customers adopt them who are used to a WYSIWYG editor. What would be great is a best of both worlds implementation: a WYSIWYG editor that formats with the markup language of your choice (allowing you to manually type the code if you so choose). I know it seems somewhat pointless, but I do believe it would be helpful.
September 20, 2007 17:17
What an awesome idea and site. Definately can send this to people who don't know web sites (like the grand parents) and get them to start blogging or something. Cool.
September 21, 2007 10:48
This sounds exactly like the first version of that we released a year ago. We were proud of the purity of our text box plus button aesthetic, but we soon discovered that while techies love Markdown, it drives normal folks bonkers, and we tossed it in favor of an in-browser WYSIWYG editor in short order.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.