Sometimes you need something lightweight for text files that doesn’t require all the fancy tools and formatting that is offered by other languages, such as HTML – but is still readable and mergeable as a text file. If that resonates with you, chances are good that Markdown is what you are looking for. Even if Markdown isn’t the desired result, it can be converted to match your needs. In fact, starting with Markdown can be an easy way to write HTML or other languages without needing to learn new and more complex syntaxes.

The Basics

When

Markdown is used in all kinds of places, and you may not even know it! READMEs, website creation, wikis, notes and emails are some of the areas where you may have encountered it. In fact, I’m using Markdown to write this blog as I speak (or type)!

Why

HTML is a robust language offering many options and tools at your disposal. Though it can create great-looking text and pages for you, not everything needs to look well-designed. Often times you just need to take notes or write down information for a user and basic formatting is all that you require. If that’s the case, you don’t want to mess around with the confusing, cluttered tags of HTML or its competition.

Markdown offers formatting that is easy to read and straightforward. This makes it a great option for non-programmers and simple text needs alike.

Converting to another file type is another huge draw, as you can start with Markdown’s easy-to-learn syntax and still be able to create html, pdfs and others without knowing a single thing about it.

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General Formatting

I feel that it is necessary to add a bit about the general formatting to help you see its simplicity or to help you recognize it, though if you want a full cheat sheet, head on over to https://www.markdownguide.org/cheat-sheet/.

For starters:

You can make headers with the # symbol, bold text by surrounding it with asterisks * or making a list with just a dash – . Here’s a quick look:

Flavors

As markdown is straightforward, companies have taken it and created their own ‘flavors.’ Basically, this means they have implemented markdown to make their own programs easier to understand, as well as adding in a few of their own features for further customization. Learning markdown will allow you to easily incorporate these features as you use your varying programs and tools.

GitHub and GitLab both have their own flavors of markdown, making it easier to write up a variety of items such as issues and merge requests to wiki pages and documents. When it comes to managing your repositories and source code, quick documentation encourages developers to write in-depth instructions, notes and other essential documents.

For the nerdier crew, there is an awesome tool called The Homebrewery for making authentic-looking D&D pages and information based on markdown. It takes the ease of markdown, with a few of its own tweaks, to make your creative additions to the game look like it came straight from the handbook itself.

Converting to Another File Type

As guides and explanations can be found all over the internet, here is a quick guide to converting your Markdown.

If you find yourself in need of converting Markdown more than once or twice, installing a program might be what you’re looking for. Pandoc offers conversion to just about any language or format desirable.

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If a quick and easy solution is all you’re needing, here are a few online converters for commonly searched-for conversions:

HTML: https://markdowntohtml.com/

PDF: https://www.markdowntopdf.com/

DOCX: https://cloudconvert.com/md-to-docx ← Cloud convert can be especially useful. Take a look around and find many other conversion combinations.

There are certainly more out there than this, as well as more capabilities, but these are just a few converters that I have used/tested myself already.

Markdown is an extremely versatile language, and knowing how to use it can add a huge tool to your tool belt. Not only does it open the way to a quick text option, but also an easy entry to other widely-used formats.

And if you have questions about an embedded project you’re working on, Dojo Five can help you with all aspects of your EmbedOps journey! We are always happy to hear about cool projects or interesting problems to solve, so don’t hesitate to reach out and chat with us on LinkedIn or through email!

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