My job lately has been to work with converting our documentation for Gravity Forms from MediaWiki to Markdown. One of the developers has worked on markdown rendering for WordPress, and now it looks like WordPress.com has added Markdown processing.
What is Markdown?
Markdown is a set of rules for writing text that is processed and converted to HTML.
Markdown lets you compose links, lists, and other styles using regular characters and punctuation marks. If you want a quick, easy way to write and edit rich text without having to take your hands off the keyboard or learn a lot of complicated codes and shortcuts, then Markdown might be right for you.
I am using Markdown in this post.
I am not a fan of Markdown. I think HTML is easy enough to use. Converting hundreds of MediaWiki articles from one format to another is annoying. The advantage of Markdown for us is that it will let us export the documents easily and create styled PDF guides of the latest version of the documentation on demand.
The hardest part about Markdown for me thus far is that there doesn’t seem to be a central group controlling the rules. Sometimes one character might bold text, and another it will italicize or start a list. This is very frustrating, and learning different rules based on the whims of the developers takes time. HTML is standardized and since I’ve already learned it, I’d love if everything just could be worked through from that. I don’t really like having to learn another document formatting language if I don’t have to, especially one that I don’t feel does everything I can do in HTML.
WordPress.com doesn’t support Markdown on its Visual editor yet, and this is another major flaw for most people. If you try, it’ll likely make a mess.
I don’t know where things are heading, but this just seems like a weird choice right now. Maybe in a year or two, I’ll look back and think I was foolish for not wanting to jump on the Markdown bandwagon, but I am not convinced that Markdown is the best thing for writing on the web.