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Are you a raving Markdown fan?

Jane talks about Markdown and the way it splits people into two camps: Markdown fans, and the rest of the world, who aren’t aware of it or simply prefer classic text editors.

Jane Portman
Jane Portman

It’s Jane on the line again, and we’re talking about Markdown today! First, some quick facts to give you context.

Markdown is a simple markup language for formatting text online. It allows for elements like links or bullet lists (which plain text doesn’t have), but is way more lightweight than typical rich text in MS Word or Google Docs.

The main problem with the rich text is unnecessary formatting: if you copy & paste your article from Google Docs into your publishing tool (let’s say WordPress), it will drag along information like font face, color, and things like that — none of which relates to your content, and worse, often creates formatting headaches down the road.

John Gruber created the Markdown language in 2004 in collaboration with Aaron Swartz, to allow web writers “write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML).” Years passed, the idea flourished, gorgeous new Markdown editors appeared — Ulysses, Byword, and iA Writer among others — allowing us to write articles and books in a beautiful clean environment.

Using Markdown is strictly a matter of personal preference. It splits people into two camps: Markdown fans, and the rest of the world, who aren’t aware of it or simply prefer classic text editors. What’s most interesting is how affectionately loyal those fans are, myself included.

Gruber truly created a little religion for web writers!

In our team of three, Benedikt and myself are raving Markdown fans, so we were very excited to make it available at Userlist for editing messages. It was one of our beloved pet features.

But as we all know, “you are not your user” should be tattooed on every founder’s forehead. Our Markdown case is another great illustration of that. We’ve found that a lot of Userlist’s early champions were not nearly as excited about this feature. Instead, they were totally content with a regular rich text editor.

So today, we would love to learn more about your preferences, personally. Our questions are the following:

  • Are you a Markdown fan yourself?
  • Would Markdown editing make you happier while composing your email campaigns?
  • What is your typical process for composing messages — do you write them directly in your email automation software, or maybe write them elsewhere and then copy & paste?

We’re all ears, looking forward to hearing about your workflow!

— Regards, Jane.

About the author
Jane Portman

Jane Portman is the co-founder of Userlist. Her mission is to help SaaS companies leverage the power of email marketing automation. Mom of three, Jane also enjoys scuba diving and runs two podcast shows: UI Breakfast and Better Done Than Perfect.