#What is Markdown?
###You may have heard about Markdown, if you have it's a good thing.
**Markdown means that your website is being built correctly… by professionals.**
You may have heard of [WYSIWYG](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WYSIWYG) (what you see is what you get) formatting. Think of Markdown like a simplified WYSIWYG… simplified in the best way.
When web designers and developers approach a project, they build [styles](http://www.w3schools.com/css/) into the project. Those styles dictate how basic elements, like headers and links will appear.
In the past, a WYSIWYG editing tools gave away too much design control. Someone could unknowingly add a new style to the design (like red italic bold headers) without meaning to. More often than not, it was a purposeful design addition, but that inevitably leads to a *race to the bottom*, so style treatment became larger, bolder, and brighter. This makes designers sad :( because their carefully crafted theme gets lost in the noise.
Bottom line, people who edit content should focus on the words and the designer should make them pretty. Markdown does an excellent job at drawing that line in the sand, equipping us to all play nice together. When a designer pushes a new style to the website, the styles are consistently reflected across the whole site, so the design stays fresh and up to date with browser caveats and features. (Dropshadows anyone?)
Markdown is widely accepted by [developers and editors](https://www.google.com/#q=love+markdown), so it's the best choice for implementing best practice. Nearly every popular content management solution supports Markdown, if not out-of-the-box, then with an easy-to-install extension.
###Markdown tools (this is the good stuff)
**Anyone who works with content should be using one of the following tools…**
*Note: Everything about Markdown is free, paid stuff is totally optional and often worse.*
- [Mou](http://mouapp.com/) for Mac (it's free and it's best)
- [something like Mou](http://alternativeto.net/software/mou/?platform=windows) for Windows
- [nvAlt](http://brettterpstra.com/projects/nvalt/) for Mac (also free, with amazing search features)
- (Mac) [Byword](http://bywordapp.com/) - $9.99
- [ReText](http://sourceforge.net/p/retext/home/ReText/) for Linux
- or find [another one](https://www.google.com/#q=markdown+apps)
- [Marked](http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/marked/id448925439?mt=12) ($3.99) provides a preview of your (Multi)Markdown as you work in any text editor.
- [Caret](https://caret.io) for Mac / Windows / Linux, premium app, ideal for profeesional Markdown writers, $25.
####Online tools (that means it works in your browser)
- [Dillinger](http://dillinger.io/) free online markdown editor that supports syncing with Dropbox, Google Drive and Github.
- There are many of these tools so if you want to work in a browser, [find the one you like best](https://www.google.com/#q=online+markdown+editor+tool).
- If you want to turn a website into Markdown, then its easy to do with [html2text](http://www.aaronsw.com/2002/html2text/), or by using the [make.text bookmarklet](https://gist.github.com/dajare/5371948) (also see [Marky](http://markdownrules.com/))
- I really like using [gist](https://gist.github.com/) by github for sharing and collaborating (called forking) on documents. [Here's a sample](https://gist.github.com/2152688) :P
- [Draft](https://draftin.com/) is a comprehensive online writing environment that uses Markdown. However, it requires you to create an account and is a bit confusing.
- [StackEdit](https://stackedit.io) is a full-featured, open-source Markdown editor based on PageDown, the Markdown library used by Stack Overflow and the other Stack Exchange sites.
###How do I write this Markdown stuff?
When developers talk about how to write something, they call it syntax. To that end, here are related syntax documents sorted by ease of use.
- [Wikipedia](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markdown) - History and formatting guide
- [SquareSpace](http://www.squarespace.com/display/ShowHelp?section=Markdown) - Formatting guide
- [Daring Fireball](http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/syntax) - The original guide by the author
- [Lots more…](https://www.google.com/#q=markdown+syntax)
[Markdown](http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/) was made by [John Gruber](http://daringfireball.net/), and he says…
> Markdown is a text-to-HTML conversion tool for web writers. Markdown allows you to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML).
###I still don't understand
Markdown can be written in a basic text editor (don't use Word) like TextEdit for Mac (save as plain-text) or Notepad on Windows. It's an easy way to write text that easily translates into HTML. The web is written in HTML, so think of it like quick-start web development tool for content editors. When you write in Markdown, you save the document with the file extension `.md`. More often than not, you'll never need to save a Markdown document, because you'll be using an online tool.
###Around the web
* [StackOverflow.com](http://stackoverflow.com/) uses Markdown for posts and comments. Here's their [help guide](http://stackoverflow.com/editing-help).
* [github.com](https://github.com) uses a custom blend "GitHub Flavored Markdown" for their discussions. Here's their [help guide](http://github.github.com/github-flavored-markdown/).
* [Dustin Curtis](http://dcurt.is/the-markdown-mark) said *"I'm making something that uses Markdown, and there's currently no great universal symbol for identifying Markdown support. [So I created one](https://github.com/dcurtis/markdown-mark)."* That's the icon up above: ![Markdown symbol](http://kirkstrobeck.github.io/whatismarkdown.com/img/markdown.png "Markdown symbol")
- I really want [Markdown extra](http://michelf.com/projects/php-markdown/extra/) to be more prevalent. It is the future of Markdown. If you can develop using Markdown Extra, please do. If possible, upgrade your Markdown installs to Markdown Extra. And don't forget about [Smartypants](http://daringfireball.net/projects/smartypants/) if you want Markdown Extra to got the extra mile (also [available for PHP](http://michelf.ca/projects/php-smartypants/)).
- [Textile](http://textile.sitemonks.com/) is great, and was probably used most by [37 Signals](http://productblog.37signals.com/products/2007/07/use-textile-in-.html), but it lost the battle in the end.
It did have out-of-the-box support for tables, though, which was quite nice.
>Textile is a lightweight markup language originally developed by Dean Allen and billed as a "humane web text generator". Textile converts its marked-up text input to valid, well-formed XHTML and also inserts character entity references for apostrophes, opening and closing single and double quotation marks, ellipses and em dashes
- [Wikipedia](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textile_markup_language) - History and formatting guide
- [Textism](http://www.textism.com/tools/textile/) - Dingus for Textile
- [Hobix](http://redcloth.org/hobix.com/textile/) - Formatting guide
Demand that your web projects be built with Markdown.
- This page was built with [Markdown](http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/) by [Kirk Strobeck](http://kirkstrobeck.com/)
- Feel free to fork this page and edit, let's [make it better](https://github.com/kirkstrobeck/whatismarkdown.com/blob/gh-pages/_includes/README.md).