Tom McFarlin has published an awesome blog post about developer’s tunnel vision. The gist of the post is that although Markdown is a simplified markup language that makes it easier to format and style content, it shouldn’t be forced onto users. In the post, Tom goes on to say:
To that end, I will always advocate for markdown being a choice – not a standard – for people to draft their content, but I also believe that it’s important we not expect non-technical users to want to author their content in that way.
When we wrote about support for Markdown being added to WordPress.com and then through Jetpack as a module, some questioned whether it would outright replace the TinyMCE editor in WordPress. The reviews were mixed but I’m glad to see TinyMCE isn’t going anywhere. In fact, WordPress 3.9 will have a shiny new version of TinyMCE for users to play with.
One thing I’ve enjoyed since we started using Stargazer by Justin Tadlock is the visual editor. In Stargazer, Justin modified editor-style.css so that the content within the visual editor looks just like it would if it were published. It brings users closer to the principle of what you see is what you get. I bring this up because Tom drafts all of his posts in WordPress using the visual editor instead of using Markdown. He explains why:
As someone who enjoys writing, programming, and obviously markdown, I can also say that I’m someone who drafts all of his posts in the WYSIWYG editor of WordPress using editor-style.css because, when done right, it helps me to see clearly see what my content is going to look like when it’s published, and shortcuts save me just as much time as do syntax of markdown.
Thank you Tom for advocating choice instead of forcing Markdown on users as the standard to formatting content. I agree with Tom’s last statement in his post and it bears repeating. “Give ‘em the choice of how they want to write; otherwise, we risk making something that should be fulfilling – that is, writing and publishing – a bit of a frustrating chore.“
Are there people out there saying that Markdown is something users want? I didn’t realize anyone outside of development circles even knew what Markdown is. I can’t believe any sane developer believes a normal (i.e. non-technical) WordPress user even knows what Markdown is, let alone understands the syntax.