My Low-down on Markdown

If you write for any online presence – particularly blogs – and you are not a dedicated HTML junkie but still long to have more formatting control over your posts, Markdown written by John Gruber of Daring Fireball fame, may be the tool for you. Markdown is a recognized framework of web formatting tags that gives you control over things such as:

  • Header size
  • Type size
  • Bold, italics, and underlining
  • Quote blocks
  • Ordered and unordered lists
  • etc.

These are all things that you can control by writing your post in HTML, however, Markdown makes your writing more readable due to a minimized amount of markup using tags. I was surprised how many tools support the use of Markdown. Blog writing editors such as Mars Edit and online blogging tools such as Squarespace’s online editor support Markdown. Even Squarespace’s iPhone app supports the use of Markdown – which is great for me since it allows me to do a lot more than I could with the default WYSIWYG editor on the fantastic Squarespace iPhone app. I use Squarespace as my blog host and framework and I currently am having an issue with posting from the iPhone app using Markdown but I do have a ticket open with the engineers at Squarespace and I hope to have a resolution promptly.

John Gruber gives an introduction to Markdown:

“Markdown is a text-to-HTML conversion tool for web writers. Markdown allows you to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML).

Thus, “Markdown” is two things: (1) a plain text formatting syntax; and (2) a software tool, written in Perl, that converts the plain text formatting to HTML. See the Syntax page for details pertaining to Markdown’s formatting syntax. You can try it out, right now, using the online Dingus.

There are many resources for learning more about Markdown. You can simply search Google for Markdown or you can visit John Gruber’s site for more information. I am an early user of Markdown (this post was written using Markdown) and from what I see so far, I really like it.

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