Maybe you’ll read that title and think:
Damn, Chris. Little dogmatic isn’t it? There are lots of ways to do things, especially on the web. Why be all prescriptive?
You’d be right. What I actually want is for everyone creating content on the web to create that content in a clean way that will serve them long into the future. Markdown, I feel, highly encourages that.
Let us explore some of those ways.
1) It keeps dangerous cruft out of your content
This is #1 for a reason. I overflow with sadness when I hear of someone dealing with legacy content that is full of ancient markup.
I bet you know what I mean.
<span style="font-weight: bold; font-family: Georgia; color: red;"> around seemingly random sentences.
<div class="content-wrap-wrap"> wrapping every single blog post because it was just “what you did”. Images force-floated to the right because that made sense three designs ago. Headers with class names on them that don’t even exist anymore. Tables of data spit into content with all the whitespace stripped out and weird alignment attributes you barely recognize. An about page that was pasted in from Microsoft Word.
Content like this will not and cannot last.
A frustrated person in the future might just delete it. Someone might be forced to clean it up in the future, become even more frustrated, and do a bad job of it.
It discourages and delays more important work.
To be fair, most Markdown implementations allow HTML, so you could junk up a content system that supports Markdown too. But, the support of Markdown highly encourages using it exclusively. Plus you could make it a rule in your organization.
The point is: when you blog in Markdown, you’re writing in a clean language that translates to very clean HTML. Just your standard
<blockquotes>s and the like. Good ol’ semantic and accessible content.
2) It encourages structured data
Say one of the types of pages on your website needs to have a hero image at the top. Another one needs a thumbnail gallery of images. What then? There is no Markdown standard for these kinds of things. Aren’t we then forced into some kind of