John Gruber on Markdown’s Success

From Issue #46

I recently developed a class on Lightweight Markup Languages. I asked John Gruber of Daring Fireball why Markdown caught on while so many other LMLs didn’t.

He graciously gave me three reasons why Markdown became so commonplace.

  1. “…it emphasizes readability above all else. It is not the most expressive markup syntax. In fact, it is probably among the least expressive. But it is highly readable. You can send Markdown-formatted text to someone who has no idea what Markdown is and they will get it.”

  2. “…the raw HTML escape hatch. Do you need to do something in your text that Markdown’s own syntax does not handle? Just use HTML.”

  3. “…extensibility. The fact that there is no single ‘Markdown’, and different flavors are available for different use cases, is a tremendous strength, not as some continue to think, a weakness or flaw.”

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