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Tags: Wikis    
Latest version: v1.5

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What is Commonplace?

TL;DR: A server for your markdown files. Give it a directory, and Commonplace gives you a url, pretty pages, and quick editing.

I write quite a bit of Markdown, and usually keep my .md files scattered around my hard-drive. Commonplace is a simple sinatra-based server to browse and quickly edit your markdown files. It works by reading .md files from a directory you configure (my advice would be to keep this directory backed up through Dropbox). The name draws inspiration from commonplace books.

Commonplace is not meant to be a markdown editor, even though it includes basic editing capabilities. There are a number of tools that do editing extremely well - I happen to use Byword for Mac but you get to choose your own poison. If you edit the markdown files in an external editor, changes are reflected in commonplace after refreshes.

Commonplace screenshot

Installing Commonplace

Installing Commonplace is actually really easy - all you need is ruby (which if you're on a fairly recent mac, you already have).

  • Clone Commonplace to your local machine git clone git://github.com/fredoliveira/commonplace.git
  • Install bundler, if you haven't got it yet gem install bundler
  • Using bundler, install Commonplace's dependencies with bundle install
  • Create config/commonplace.yml, based on the commonplace.yml.example file
  • You're ready to start using Commonplace

Running Commonplace

Once you're installed, running Commonplace is trivial.

  • Head over to the directory where you installed commonplace, if you're not there already
  • Run shotgun and open http://localhost:9393 in your browser
  • You're done, get cranking!

Running on Windows

Since shotgun doesn't run on windows, you need to install Thin instead. Here's what you do:

  • gem install thin to install thin in your system
  • thin -R config.ru start to run commonplace

Things for the advanced nerds

Syncing with Dropbox

You can edit the directory where Commonplace serves files from by editing the config/commonplace.yml file and restarting your server. For extra spice, use a directory somewhere inside your Dropbox folder to have constant syncing across your computers and automatic backups to the cloud. Delicious. As long as this directory has a home.md file inside which is used as the main entry point for Commonplace, you're all set.

Hosting with Apache

If you have an Apache server, you can use passenger to serve Commonplace. While installing passenger is out of scope of this document, instructions are available here. Once this is done, a VirtualHost entry like the one below should be all you need:

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerName commonplace.yourdomain.com
    DocumentRoot /Users/fred/Projects/personal/commonplace/public
    RackEnv development
    <Directory /Users/fred/Projects/personal/commonplace>
        Allow from all
        Options -MultiViews

Hosting with Nginx

If you have a server running Nginx with passenger, here's what you need to add to your nginx.conf (or whatever configuration file you use):

server {
    listen 80;
    server_name commonplace.yourdomain.com;
    root /home/commonplace/commonplace/public;
    passenger_enabled on;

Running the specs

There's a number of specs to test out the Commonplace functionality available on the spec directory. In order to run these tests, use the rake utility in the commonplace root folder. Green is good, red is bad. You shouldn't see any red.