The joys of markdown are many.
It is entirely text based (as are many other formatting systems) so you can enter the raw coding in a text editor, or read a file that is "marked down" in a text editor. This makes it hard to truly "break" a file, the files tend to be small, the files can be handled with a number of different tools, and since the coding is all jumbled up and stuff it is hard to make a text-based formatting system proprietary or otherwise secret or hard to write software for.>
Here’s an example. The following text uses italics in one place and includes three links, in HTML:> >The best places on the web to learn about the evolution of <em>Homo sapiens</em> are <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/">Greg Laden’s blog</a>, <a href="http://johnhawks.net/weblog">John Hawks’ blog</a>, and <a href="http://www.talkorigins.org/">Talk Origns</a>. > >Here is the same text written in markdown: > >The best places on the web to learn about the evolution of >Homo sapiens > are [Greg Laden's blog], [John Hawks blog] and [Talk Origins]. > >[Greg Laden's blog]:"http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/" > >[John Hawks blog]:"http://johnhawks.net/weblog" > >[Talk Origins]:"http://www.talkorigins.org/" > >The second text is easier to type (fewer formatting characters) and easier to read (for the same reason). However, if there was a thing named [Greg Laden's blog] … including the brackets … or a product or username or something called *Homo (which might be read "star-homo") then this formatting would go all blooeee when you try to render it, because meaningful symbols (in this case [, ], and *) might be used as formatting code instead of rendered, and inappropriate formatting would be applied to the text. > >Now, this sort of screw-up can be avoided. There are ways to "escape" characters that are normally used for formatting that you wish to be displayed (in the case of markdown, this would be a "" before the character). An "escaped" character is not used as a formatting character and is printed as it appears. But this is very imperfect because a user may not know about the escaping, or may do it wrong. > >So, in sum, markdown is a way of formatting text that is easy, fast, clean, and slightly dangerous. In other words, totally cool. > >But if markdown codes specify formatting, how does the formatting get put on the text and where does the text go? Well, markdown can be used in connection with LaTex to turn marked-down text into some universal format such as PDF. Or, it can be used to specify text that will be converted into HTML. There is one form of doing this that creates "imperfect" partial HTML, which is usually what you want for something going in a blog post. > >2 > > > >Writing things like blog posts in markdown can be easier, cleaner, and more fun than using those dumb editing boxes that most blogging platforms use, and it is quicker and easier to proofread than HTML code. > >In Linux, and probably on other platforms, one might use >pandoc > to render the markdown code. Pandoc uses a variant of classic markdown, and can convert markdown into HTML, LaTex, PDF and many other formats, using in some cases LaTex software that you should already have installed. > >This blog post, complete with footnotes and other formatting, was written using markdown and processed with Pandoc. It worked well, but I did have to escape more characters than the road runner in a Wiley E. Coyote family reunion. > >