A short and simple beginners look at Markdown

At SevenStrokes, we forego email support and go straight to a forum / discussion-based system based off Vanilla. This is great, because we can organise client discussions much better, focus discussions on certain topics, split and merge topics as they spin off from original topics, and through an intuitive interface that takes no time to learn. Best of all, we can escape from those badly formatted client emails with the annoying 10-line signature and get to the point. That’s the reason our discussion post formatting is based off Markdown.

Too bad it’s not obvious enough how to use Markdown.

I wrote this very short, basic, and purposely omitting details guide to What is Markdown? – I hope you like it :)

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  1. As far as I am concerned, one of the problems with these formats is that there are too many of these “free text formatting” markup languages out there, each with their own subtle incompatibilities and differences. Wiki text, markdown, textile, asciidoc, bbcode etc. Each format simply wants throw a safety net around HTML or XHTML. The other issue is that these mini-markup languages are not standardized across different web applications.

    But I agree that it’s good not to allow content-producers to manage HTML directly. We simply need to find a better solution to the issue.

  2. You’re right. There are far too many of them. However each have their strengths and objectives, and so I don’t quite mind the diversity.

    For example, BBCode was the easiest and perhaps the earliest – simply because your could do s//] and have a 90% complete BBCode implementation. I’m guessing that this the reason it became the first popular non-Markup out there. If you want to match HTML as close as possible but lose out on actual , then BBCode is your best tool for the job.

    Wikitext is very powerful, and its strength is (obviously) in Wikis. If you’re writing a wiki, use Wikitext.

    Asciidoc is also the obvious choice if you’re set with the boring task of writing a huge documentation manual.

    Now we get to the competing ones: things like the various flavours of Markdown (Git Markdown, Stackoverflow Markdown, etc) and Textile. Markdown is divided, but I’d take the division any day because Markdown is simpler and more intuitive than Textile.

    Now for the specific usecase in the blog post: a micro discussion forum to replace email support to clients. Markdown definitely seems like the natural choice to me :)

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