Getting Comfortable with Markdown

So, this blog post utilizes Markdown. I first got introduced to Markdown, probably like many others, when using GitHub.

Github Logo
Github Logo

At first, I was curious about the file. I just thought it was a regular readme file, just like a text file. But I was wrong, it was something really impressive.

In my mind, Markdown was meant to help write for the web fast, but still include most of the stylistic, structural, and media features we like to add in HTML. One of the most attractive features of Markdown that I’ve heard highlighted by others is that it helps keep writers within the flow of writing, without needing to break from the keyboard to click on a formatting button, etc.

Starting with Standard Markdown

Most of what people do when writing Markdown is accomplished with Standard Markdown, which allows users to do things like render:

  • Headings
  • Text formatting
  • Images
  • Lists
  • Quotes

Another major feature that coders especially love is the ability to write code snippets and give their code specialized syntax highlighting. For example, I just completed the Ruby OO Inheritance Lab. Some of what I learned looks like this:

class Student < User

This is an awesome feature, and makes writing and especially reading code easier.

Flavors of Markdown

Beyond simple Standard Markdown, there are some other flavors of Markdown that have more features than are available in the standard version. Two of the most popular flavors include GitHub and Ghost.

Markdown Flavor Example of Extra Feature
GitHub Tables
Ghost Highlights

Also, code syntax highlighting is an advanced feature, shown at work with Ruby here.

class User
 attr_accessor :first_name, :last_name
 def initialize(first_name, last_name)
  @first_name = first_name
  @last_name = last_name

class Student < User
 def declare_major(subject)
  puts "#{@first_name.capitalize} #{@last_name.capitalize} is majoring in #{subject}."

hal ="hal", "hope")

# > Hal Hope is majoring in biology.

Time Needed to Learn Markdown

A great thing about Markdown is that it doesn’t take too long to learn it. Mostly, the challenge of Markdown isn’t the syntax, but just practicing it regularly to remember all the features. For modern web development, knowing how to write good documentation - often a key feature of code that’s uploaded to GitHub - requires having a solid understanding and control of Markdown so that users who come to read about how your code works will have an easy time reading nicely styled and helpful documentation text.

I recommend spending some time to learn Markdown since it is easy to use and can make ordinary code documentation text look amazing.