Note: I suspect this is the first of many blog “Part 1’s” that may or may not get a followup. There is definitely more I would like to play with and write about on this topic, the question is whether something else grabs my attention before I get there… but without further ado…

TL;DR: This was a fun and easy problem to solve. You can view the current version of my code on GitHub. Also, look down below if your interested in compiling NPM modules to a web usable form, or realtime rendering using Ember.js.

The high level problem: Starting a blog is something I’ve always wanted to do. However, I tried a couple years ago with a Wordpress blog and decided I didn’t like writing… Fast forward a year and I realized that when I was young I always had a personal website that I had created to play around with the newest HTML or CSS tricks I found online. However, now I am more interested and invested in code than ever but I no longer had a personal site. I began to make personal websites, and that was fun, but I also had a desire to do more spontaneous one off proof of concepts with whatever the latest cool thing I found. I also would like to do this without throwing away my old site code and writing a new personal site every time.

Around this time I also found Ghost, a blogging platform which supported a realtime markdown preview of your blog post as you wrote, which fascinated me. I thought, if I could only write a blog with markdown, I would surely have a more pleasant experience writing. Everytime I started a new one off project I took notes in a Gist anyways, what if I just refined those a little more and posted them…

While evaluating other blogging engines like Ghost, I found Jekyll. This seemed to bring it all together for me. When I felt like writing a blog post, or publishing my Gists, I could write in markdown, and when I felt like demonstrating working code, I could write in pure, good old fashioned HTML. Furthermore, call me weird but for some reason I just liked the idea of storing my posts in actual files instead of a database. I think that has something to do with my first Wordpress blog and feeling like I didn’t have real access to my content if I ever wanted to switch hosting platforms.

The technical problem: I still wanted the realtime editor from Ghost! I soon decided I should just make one. I could embed it as a side page in my site so I could even see my posts with my current stylesheets, etc.

The solution: For now, my first iteration, my “Part 1”, I would just write a quick page with realtime editing capabilities but would not worry about actually having the editor save my blog posts for me. For now I would just rely on copy/paste to and from the editor. Later in further iterations I will worry about additional features and saving capabilities.

As I searched for javascript libraries that could parse markdown for me, I didn’t find any that worked exactly how I would like. However, I did finde a Node.js NPM module that worked just how I would like: marked.

The result: This turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be, but I felt like I learned a few interesting things in the process:

  1. How to compile an NPM module to a web usable form.
  2. This code was really fun and easy to write, fun to see execute, and did I mention fun?

How to compile an NPM module to a web usable form

Note: First and foremost you will need Node.js and NPM installed on your computer. Visit for more information if you need it.

Your best friend here is Browserify. This makes the whole process one line of code and one or two terminal commands.

  1. Install browserfiy: npm install -g browserify
  2. Install marked: npm install marked
  3. Create a file called markedModule.js with the following line of code: window.marked = require('marked'); (Note: you can actually call the file whatever you want)
  4. Run the following Browserify command in your terminal: browserify markedModule.js -o marked.js
  5. Include a script tag to marked.js in your webpage and use marked as specified in their GitHub page.

##Realtime rendering with Ember.js I’ve pretty much been doing everything with Ember lately and love it. If you’re not using Ember then you should check it out, or at least use Angular or something, although I suppose you could always use jQuery if you wanted, but that would make me :(.

I would like to roll this into an Ember component or Angular directive later but for now here we are:

  1. You’re gonna need an object with a markdown and an html property that is smart enough to do the conversion:

    App.MarkdownParser = Ember.Object.extend({
      markdown: null,
      html: function() {
        return marked(this.get('markdown'));
  2. You’re going to need to define your application route with your model object:

    App.ApplicationRoute = Ember.Route.extend({
      model: function() {
        return App.MarkdownParser.create({
          markdown: "# something"
  3. Your will need to define your application template with a textbox and an output pane (notice that the output pane uses a tripple handlebar so that it does not escape the html):

    <script type="text/x-handlebars">
      {{textarea id="input" value=markdown}}
      <div id="output">{{{html}}}</div>

Thats pretty much it. You can see this version of the code on GitHub and the latest version of the code on GitHub as well!

Demo: Realtime Markdown Editor

Part 2: Creating an Ember markdown editor component