Markdown logo / whatismarkDOwn.com

Markdown in Medium?

Empowering writing.

Davide Taviani
Jun 15, 2013 · 2 min read

According to the definition on the website,

the overriding design goal for Markdown’s formatting syntax is to make it as readable as possible. The idea is that a Markdown-formatted document should be publishable as-is, as plain text, without looking like it’s been marked up with tags or formatting instructions. While Markdown’s syntax has been influenced by several existing text-to-HTML filters, the single biggest source of inspiration for Markdown’s syntax is the format of plain text email

And it combines the easy-to-read and the easy-to-write, beautifully: the documents are indeed so simple that they look like README files, yet they encode all the proper syntax of a written document.

Here is a quick example of that (from the website of the creator, John Gruber).

It is nowadays, more or less, the standard format for writing text on the web, at least among tech-oriented people, and its usage in Jekyll is a perfect example of this power: being a formatting syntax, you can easily separate the style of the website from its content. The writing is clearly well-separated from the coding.


Medium seems to be quite a powerful (sorry for pun) medium, empowering writers to write stuff they really care about, and readers that want to find something meaningful to read.

Yet, stopping to click with the mouse to add formatting, seriously breaks the flow.

Don’t get me wrong, the current editor looks amazing, in its simplicity: it is exactly as the rendered text, and there is no distraction to take away the focus from the writing. Simple, but effective.

Yet posting links or changing text to italic/bold, or putting a blockquote, seriously breaks the flow.

Wouldn’t it be great if, as you posted, the markdown syntax was converted automatically to formatted text?

Assuming the implementation does not add too much of complexity to the editor, the non-Markdown user would not really understand that something is different, unless he likes to use _peculiar ways_ *of writing* words or [using different kinds](of brackets) in this particular order (without spaces), which I don’t think is particularly likely; the syntax is specialized enough.

If Medium were to take this one step further (which does not seem too far fetched, actually), using Markdown as the actual way the text is stored in their servers, it would enable any user to download the stories in that format, with the “export” feature, replacing the current less than ideal HTML.

Medium + Markdown? Simple, but more powerful.

    Davide Taviani

    Written by

    Jack of all trades, master of none.

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