You can think of Markdown as a radically simplified and far more human readable form of HTML. I have grown to love Markdown over the last few years. If you’re a programmer of any shape, size, or color, you can’t really avoid using Markdown, as it’s central to both Git Hub and Stack Overflow. For that matter, my new project uses Markdown, too.
Markdown is a wonderful tool, but it does suffer a bit from lack of project leadership. The so-called “spec” is anything but, and there are dozens of different flavors of Markdown out there, all with differences in the way they behave. While they are broadly compatible, Stack Overflow and Git Hub have both tweaked Markdown in ways that can trip you up if you’re familiar with one but not the other; compare Git Hub Flavor with Stack Overflow Flavor.
That’s why I was so excited to get this email from David Greenspan a few days ago:
I’m the creator of EtherPad (a collaborative WYSIWYG editor), now working at Meteor. At Meteor, we’re trying to “pave the web” for developers by writing better components. For example, we just released universal login buttons that talk over WebSockets and are wired into the users table of the app’s database. Since Markdown is increasingly ubiquitous for writing content, it’s going to be part of the Meteor toolchain. I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up releasing a component like Stack Overflow’s editor, with the full “Meteor” standard of code quality, so that no one has to roll their own again. Today, we use Markdown in our API docs generation, and we’re going to be writing more and more content in it—which is a scary thought.