Seems like there’s a little discussion percolating about whether it makes sense to support wiki-like markup languages for formatting text fields in your Web applications or to just support HTML. I took a position in this debate last year. That position was to favor supporting Markdown.

Here’s what I said:

I’ve basically decided at this point that whenever I write applications that allow users to enter blocks of text to be displayed on a Web page, I’m going to provide Markdown support. It follows conventions that people have been using in text-based email for years, it’s unobtrusive if you don’t know what it is, it plays nicely with embedded HTML markup, and it takes care of turning line feeds in text into paragraph tags in HTML. Best of all, text with Markdown in it is not only readable, it’s eye pleasing. What’s not to love? I’ve been using Markdown when posting to this site for a long time now, and have included it in some applications, but my thought at this point is, why not include it everywhere?

I’d stick by all of those arguments today. I like the idea of the raw content of the text fields in my database being readable before and after rendering, which HTML does not provide. Also, Markdown is not incompatible with HTML, so if you want to use HTML you can.

Also, for any sort of text field, you need to convert line breaks into paragraphs anyway, otherwise users who just want to enter a couple of paragraphs of text are forced to bring their own paragraph tags to the party, and that’s never fun.