So, what is Markdown?

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August 2013

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Markdown is a lightweight markup language that simplifies the workflow of web writers. It was created in 2004 by John Gruber with contributions and feedback from Aaron Swartz.

Markdown was described by John Gruber as:

"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)."

Markdown is two different things:

  • A simple syntax to create documents in plain text
  • A software tool written in Perl that converts the plain text formatting to HTML

Markdown's formatting syntax was designed with simplicity and readability as a design goal. We add rich formatting to plain text without considering that we are writing using a markup language.

The main features of Markdown

Markdown is:

  • Easy to use: Markdown has an extremely simple syntax that you can learn quickly
  • Fast: Writing is much faster than with HTML, we can dramatically reduce the time we spend crafting HTML tags
  • Clean: We can clearly read and write documents that are always translated into HTML without mistakes or errors
  • Flexible: It is suitable for many things such as writing on the Internet, e-mails, creating presentations
  • Portable: Documents are just plain text; we can edit Markdown with any basic text editor in any operating system
  • Made for writers: Writers can focus on distraction-free writing

Here, we can see a quick comparison of the same document between HTML and Markdown. This is the final result that we achieve in both cases:

The following code is written in HTML:

<h1>Markdown</h1>
<p>This a <strong>simple</strong> example of Markdown.</p>
<h2>Features:</h2>
<ul>
<li>Simple</li>
<li>Fast</li>
<li>Portable</li>
</ul>
<p>Check the <a href="http://daringfireball.net/
projects/markdown/">official website</a>.</p>

The following code is an equivalent document written in Markdown:

# Markdown This a **simple** example of Markdown. ## Features: - Simple - Fast - Portable Check the [official website]. [official website]:http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/

summary

In this article, we learned the basics of Markdown and got to know its features. We also saw how convenient Markdown is, thus proving the fact that it's made for writers.

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