CommonMark: A Spec for Markdown

This was sent in Issue #16 of Squirrel Notes on October 11, 2018.

I love Markdown. It’s a good balance between formatting functionality and simplicity, and I love how it’s all “in the open,” meaning that formatting isn’t obscured by a rich text editor that seeks to keep all HTML tags out of view.

Even with Markdown embedded, text still makes sense. And Markdown feels... precise to me. I’d rapidly like to get to a world where everything I do is written as Markdown and stored in Dropbox (RIP: Beegit). The peace of mind I would gain would be remarkable.

(True story: I wrote my entire book in a Markdown-like language called AsciiDoc, via O’Reilly’s Atlas system.)

Anyway, 14 years after it was first announced, did you know there’s a developing Markdown standard, called CommonMark? It seeks to baseline a version of Markdown that we can all rally around and declare our support for. Extensions can still exist, but the idea is that CommonMark is the lowest common denominator of Markdown that implementations can seek to support.

Here’s the specification. It’s still iterating pretty rapidly, and they’re hoping to get to 1.0 yet this year.

(BTW: I originally used Textile, back in the day, because Movable Type had a plugin. Here’s my original blog post discussing it. But Markdown quickly surpassed it in adoption, so it became the de facto standard.)

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