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karl-voit.at
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Org-mode is amazing, but not only for the markup structure.

The built-in functions in emacs relating to org-mode makes it all so powerful, and they are too many to even start mentioning.

However, one thing that I recently discovered that made org-mode even better for me was that Pandoc now has org-mode support, so it is now possible to turn org-mode in to basically any format, including Microsoft Word format, which is a killer feature if you’re forced to live in a Microsoft Office corporate environment.

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Note that Word can also open OpenDocument files nowadays and org-mode has ODT export.

I haven’t really tried which route gives the best result. Most people are happy with PDFs ;).

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One cool thing is that you can include a reference document with pandoc. That makes me able to generate docx files in the company template.

I think it is a bit more convenient than converting word templates to openoffice.

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#BEGIN_QUOTE
No, it's actually quite hideous.
#END_QUOTE


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#+BEGIN_QUOTE
You missed the '+'
#+END_QUOTE


I actually quite like org-mode, but I would not call it a reasonable markup language. Let’s not forget that # lines are comments.

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I quite like using a line under a heading in markdown, it’s the way I have always marked a heading in readme files before all these markup languages came along. To me it just looks more natural when viewed as plain text, while using a single asterisk in front of a heading could be confused as a list with one element if you do not know it’s markup.

Of course part of the reason is probably I rarely need more than one level of headings in readme files.

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I feel like this essay sort of misses the forest for the trees; yes, org markup has some advantages over other lightweight markup systems; but none of that matters without org-mode itself. org-mode (and to a lesser extent magit) are applications that act as advertisements for Emacs, which is the real secret sauce here. I know intellectually that there’s no reason there couldn’t be a productivity run-time as useful and feature-rich as Emacs implemented in a language other than Lisp; but I also often wonder: well, where is it?

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That all sounds fine, but there are definitely features missing (or at least not mentioned here) which I look for in a lightweight markup language. Those include:

• Footnotes/endnotes/sidenotes (I think org-mode actually supports at least one of these, though it’s not mentioned in the article)
• Embedded images/other media
• Embedded other markup - math markup is very useful (to me, at least), and I know some people have been keen on embedding graph diagrams (e.g. graphviz). This sort of feature usually translates into the ability to use plugins.

Of course, the more of those features you support, the less “lightweight” the markup ends up being. But that doesn’t make the bits I need any less necessary.

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I’m a happy preferrant on reStructured Text.

Some may complain about backticks, but it gets everything done.

Markfown feels like a simplified version and this orgmode contraption like weird NIH-CADT of that.

But the world being a mountain of shit, RST requires page-breaks to be embedded separately for each output type. I hope I’m wrong on this, but I don’t think I am.

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It’s easy to embed latex for math and graphviz for pictures in org-mode, along with a pile of other plugins. One cool feature is embedding your programming language of choice and having a following block show results for that code.

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It’s easy to embed latex for math

And not just LaTeX math, also LaTeX environments. And if you use GUI Emacs, you can preview the equations and LaTeX environments inline in Emacs with C-c C-x C-l. E.g., here is some inline TikZ in my research notes, where the TikZ fragment is rendered and previewed in Emacs:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/t18zqabwg14bl2n/emacs-latex-environment.png?dl=0

When exporting to LaTeX, the environment is copied as-is. For HTML exports, I have set org-mode to use dvisvgm. So, every LaTeX environment/equation is saved as SVG and embedded in the resulting HTML (you can also use MathJax, but it obviously doesn’t render any non-math LaTeX).

One cool feature is embedding your programming language of choice and having a following block show results for that code.

And the result handling is really powerful. For example, you can let org-mode generate an org table from the program output. Or you can let the fragment generate an image and include the result directly in the org mode file. This is really convenient to generate and embed R/matplotlib/gnuplot graphs. You can then decide whether the code, the result, or both should be exported (to LaTeX/HTML/… output).