"Hello ladies - look at this glass. Now back to me. Now back at the glass. Now back to me. Sadly, this glass isn't me (actually, that isn't sad). But if you were using Commonplace to organize your markdown-written knowledge you could spend more time drinking glasses like this, and not reading particularly awkward passages of text."

What is Commonplace?

I write quite a bit, usually in Markdown, but I usually keep all my markdown files scattered around my hard-drive. Commonplace is a simple wiki-like system to store and browse 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 the markdown editing job 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 here after a refresh.

Commonplace screenshot

Installing Commonplace

Commonplace is self-contained, and is actually really easy to install, but at least for now it requires you not to be afraid of your Terminal window. If you're on a Mac with Ruby and Git (Lion already has both), you have everything you need. Here's what you do:

  • Open your Terminal app. Contemplate the power of unix for a few seconds.
  • Download commonplace with: git clone git://github.com/fredoliveira/commonplace.git
  • Change to your new commonplace folder with cd commonplace
  • Install bundler, if you haven't got it yet gem install bundler
  • Using bundler, install Commonplace's dependencies with bundle install
  • You're ready to run!

I know the terminal is daunting for some people (matrix analogy goes here). If these instructions didn't work for you for some reason, get in touch with me on Twitter and I'll try to help to the extent of my ability/time. I'll try to simplify this soon by creating a quick script that does all of for you.

Running Commonplace

Once you're installed, running Commonplace is trivial - maybe even exciting.

  • In the terminal, open the folder where commonplace is installed
  • Run shotgun config.ru to start the Commonplace server
  • Open http://localhost:9393 in your browser
  • You're done, get cranking!


This being an open source project, you are quite welcome to contribute by sending in your patches and pull requests - I'm quite open to that, as long as you don't detract Commonplace from the main goal of being simple, clean and objective.

If you want to contribute financially because you find this to be a neat tool, please consider donating 1 dollar per day to Save the Children (or your favorite charity) instead. I'm fortunate enough to be able to do this for free, and there's people who'd make better use of your hard earned money. Thank you!

Now start writing, silly reader!