Please explain to me why markdown is such a great thing?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by sjinsjca, Jul 29, 2012.

  1. sjinsjca macrumors 68000


    Oct 30, 2008
    Folks I respect speak of Markdown as the ne plus ultra of text formatting, especially for generating HTML (but I'm seeing it advocated for other uses too, and even for use with Scrivener).

    I don't get it. Having to recall and type inline codes as I write... [shudder] if I wanted to do that I'd still be using WordStar. Has almost three decades of personal-computer word-processing come full circle?

    Perhaps there's some aspect of it that I'm just not comprehending. But why would anyone choose it over a WYSIWYG tool, for HTML generation or anything else?

    I'm not asking rhetorically; I'd really like to know what I'm missing. It's the creation of John Gruber, which compels me to think there's good reason for it to exist.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. kgs macrumors regular

    Jul 29, 2012
    Imagine that your "formatting" can be changed on the fly.

    With Markdown you tell it "header 1" and "header2" by using # and ## respectively.

    In your css you bake in the layout and formatting of the document using your typical css. Instead of going in and manually editing, you can change "header 1" to "header 2" and just recompile.

    It's also universal, any site that supports markdown works with the same markdown commands.

    For WYSIWYG formatting. If you want to change the header formatting of multiple headers you need to go in and do each manually. Yes, many word processors have presets now but most people don't use them.

    Pro: No need to use the mouse for any of the formatting
    Pro: Consistent
    Pro: Can be edited in anything
    Pro: Is plain text, so it can be put in a SCM (git, svn, mercurial) easily

    There are a lot of valid reasons for using Markdown. And markdown is the only one either. Textile is another popular text formatting syntax.
  3. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I feel you; it's probably overhyped to people who don't need it.

    But on occasion I want to be able to access the formatting metadata directly. I used to love Word Perfect for that on the legal documents I worked on. Not many WYSIWYG word processors let you do that, so for me markdown fills that need for certain uses.

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