However, Markdown is poorly specified and there are many slightly incompatible dialects. The blog post “The Future of Markdown” (by Jeff Atwood for Coding Horror) mentions a proposal by David Greenspan:
I think you and I share some concern (horror?) about Markdown's lack of spec and tests. The code is ugly to boot. Extending or customizing Markdown is tricky (we already have some hacks and they are terrible), and I worry about "bit rot" of content if the format doesn't have a spec. I'm evaluating the possibility of starting over with a new implementation coupled with a real spec and test suite, and I've been thinking a lot about how to parse a language like Markdown in a principled way. [...]The post then calls on all parties working with Markdown to participate in the standardization process. Apart from reading the post, you should also take a look at the comments, which contain much interesting material.
I want this new language – working name "Rockdown" – to be seen as Markdown with a spec, and therefore only deviate from Markdown's behavior in unobtrusive ways. It should basically be a replacement that paves over the problems and ambiguities in Markdown.
Two relevant technologies:
- AsciiDoc is similar to Markdown, but better suited for books. It is internally based on DocBook. O’Reilly uses it for many of its books.
- MultiMarkdown improves on Markdown in two major ways:
- More output formats (not just HTML): PDF (via LaTeX), OPML, OpenDocument (which can be converted to RTF and Microsoft Word).
- More syntax features: tables, footnotes, citations and more.