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).
This is how John Gruber, one of the inventors of markdown, explains the the tool as he calls it. It already sounds more complicated than it is. I suggest just to jump in. In this post I show you how to get started with Markdown …
These are a few lines of markdown formatted text:
# First Headline (H1)
## Second Headline (H2)
This is a really short sentence with some **bold text**, some *italics* and a link to an [Example-Page](http://www.examplepage.com)
* a bullet
* another bullet
>This is a quote
1. Numbered Item
2. Another Numbered Item
A markdown enabled App will turn these lines into this:
First Headline (H1)
Second Headline (H2)
This is a really short sentence with some bold text, some italics and a link to an Example-Page
- a bullet
- another bullet
This is a quote
- Numbered Item
- Another Numbered Item
So what happened here?
- The Markdown App turns the markdown formatted text into valid html.
- This HTML code can be pasted wherever you need the text (Mail, WordPress, your Website …)
- You can also copy the formatted text for use in Pages or Word.
Why do I need this?
- You’ll be able to write formatted text in every text-app, even on your phone without the hassle of a complicated interface.
- You’ll be able to write simple HTML-Code without ever learning how to code.
- You can use the HTML-Code for the web (your blog and website)
- You don’t have to worry about who opens the file. After all, its just plain-text.
- You can use themes to style your text with the click of a button. (You’ll need an app like Marked for that.
Ok, I’m convinced, where do I start?
- Check out this Markdown Cheat Sheet. For starters you’ll do fine with my list of examples above as well.
- Get a markdown app for desktop and mobile.
Further reading (for the real markdown-fan-boys)
Maybe start with the stuff above before digging into these following tips:
Right-Click-Conversion of Markdown to formatted Text (great for Mail)
This is what we’ll achieve:
- Install MulitMarkdown for your Mac. It’s the one that starts with MultiMarkdown-Mac. Pick the newest version.
- When intalling you might get a security warning. Retry but instead fo double-clicking, right-click the install-file and than hit and hold your ALT-Key before clicking open.
- Download Brett Terpstras Markdown Service Tools
- Head over to your library (Open the Finder ▸ Go to (hold down the alt key) ▸ Library ▸ Services
- Copy “md – Convert – Multimarkdown to RTF” into that empty folder.
- Restart Mail. Done.
Editorial – The ultimate Markdown app for iPad
Editorial is, simply put, the best writing app on the iPad. I won’t describe it at length here because Federico Viticcis extensive review already does a perfect job there. So perfect that he turned it into a book called “Writing On The iPad: Text Automation with Editorial“
If you decide to dig into the Editorial app and also Viticcis Book be sure to look at this great comic on xkcd once in a while …
Let me know if you know other great usages of Markdown …