With the new kid on the block, Ghost making a lot of waves with its modern take on “just blogging”. A lot of people have started to take an interest in Markdown for writing and not just the professional writers.
What is Markdown
Before we get into how to work in Markdown with WordPress its probably a good idea to cover a little about what Markdown is and why professional writers love it so much.
Markdown was created by John Gruber over at Daring Fireball and is a syntax for formatting a document using special characters. Writer love this as they don’t need to stop typing to add formatting into there work.
This guide was written in Markdown.
Using Markdown in WordPress
There are 3 main ways to use Markdown in WordPress and in typical WordPress Core style of don’t add features that can be handled in a plugin all 3 require a plugin. You can install any of these plugins in the normal way.
JetPack is made by WordPress.com and brings a boat load of functionality from the hosted platform over with it. This is probably one of the nicest implementations of Markdown on WordPress.
It uses the text editor already in WordPress. Simply add your Markdown formatted text and hit publish. This has the added bonus of not removing the visual editor, now you do have to save before the visual editor will show you a rendered version of your Markdown document but that is no hardship.
WP-Markdown completely replaces the WordPress editor with a text area for adding your Markdown formatted article in. This is brilliant if you are proficient in Markdown and never need or want to use the visual editor in WordPress.
WP-Markdown is not all or nothing however, there is a settings page that allows you to enable or disable the plugin for different post types.
PrettyPress is not quite all the way to a editor replacement but the Markdown features are not included into the default WordPress editor. Instead you get a button to Launch PrettyPress. This will bring up a new editor page with 2 columns.
The first column is your editor add all your Markdown formatted article here and watch the real time preview update on the right hand column. PrettyPress will even show you your work on your actual theme in real time.