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FLE TCHER T. PE NNEY
MU LT I M A R K D O W N
US E R ’ S G U I D E
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Contents
MultiMarkdown User’s Guide
4
Introduction
5
The Philosophy Behind MultiMarkdown
9
Installation
12
How to Use MultiMarkdown
15
Syntax
26
“Hacking” MultiMarkdown
52
Known Issues
54
Things Yet to Be Done
56
More Information
57
Acknowledgements
58
How to C#: Basic SDK Concept of XDoc.PDF for .NET
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multimarkdownuser’s guide
3
Release Notes
61
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MultiMarkdown User’s Guide
Version4.7.1
Revised2015-06-23
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Introduction
Astheworldgoesmulti-platformwithallofthenewmobileoperating
systems,MultiMarkdownprovidesaneasywaytoshareformatting
betweenallofmydevices.It’seasytolearn(evenforusmortals)and
immediatelyuseful.
—DavidSparks,MacSparky.com
1
1http://MacSparky.com/
What is Markdown?
TounderstandwhatMultiMarkdownis,youfirst shouldbe familiar
withMarkdown
2
.The bestdescriptionofwhat Markdowniscomes
2http://daringfireball.net/projects/
markdown/
fromJohnGruber’sMarkdownweb site:
Markdownisatext-to-HyperTextMarkupLanguage(HTML)con-
versiontoolforwebwriters.Markdownallowsyoutowriteusingan
easy-to-read,easy-to-writeplaintextformat,thenconvertittostruc-
turallyvalidXHTML(orHTML).
Thus,“Markdown”istwothings:(1)aplaintextformattingsyntax;
and(2)asoftwaretool,writteninPerl,thatconvertstheplaintext
formattingtoHTML.SeetheSyntaxpagefordetailspertainingto
Markdown’sformattingsyntax.Youcantryitout,rightnow,usingthe
onlineDingus.
TheoverridingdesigngoalforMarkdown’sformattingsyntaxis
tomakeitasreadableaspossible. TheideaisthataMarkdown-
formatteddocumentshouldbepublishableas-is,asplaintext,without
lookinglikeit’sbeenmarkedupwithtagsorformattinginstructions.
WhileMarkdown’ssyntaxhasbeeninfluencedbyseveralexisting
text-to-HTMLfilters,thesinglebiggestsourceofinspirationforMark-
down’ssyntaxistheformatofplaintextemail.—JohnGruber
3
3http://daringfireball.net/projects/
markdown/
What is MultiMarkdown?
Markdownisgreat,but it lackedafewfeaturesthat wouldallowitto
workwithdocuments,ratherthanjustpiecesof awebpage.
IwroteMultiMarkdowninordertoleverageMarkdown’ssyntax,
but toextendit toworkwithcompletedocumentsthatcouldulti-
matelybeconvertedfromtextintootherformats, includingcomplete
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6 fletcher t. penney
HTMLdocuments,LaTeX,PDF,ODF,oreven(shudder)Microsoft
Worddocuments.
Inadditiontothe ability toworkwithcompletedocumentsand
conversiontootherformats,theMarkdownsyntaxwaslackinga
fewotherthings. MichelFortinaddedafewadditionalsyntaxfea-
tureswhenwriting PHPMarkdownExtra
4
.Someofhisideaswere
4http://www.michelf.com/projects/
php-markdown/extra/
implementedandexpandedoninMultiMarkdown,inadditionto
includingfeaturesnotavailableinotherMarkdownimplementations.
Thesefeaturesinclude tables,footnotes,citationsupport,imageand
link attributes,cross-references, mathsupport, andmore.
JohnGrubermaydisagree withme,butI reallydidtrytostick
withhisproclaimedvisionwheneverIaddedanewsyntaxformat
toMultiMarkdown. ThequalitythatattractedmetoMarkdownthe
mostwasitscleanformat. Readingaplaintext documentwrittenin
Markdowniseasy. It makessense,anditlookslikeitwasdesigned
forpeople,notcomputers. To theextent possible,Itriedtokeepthis
sameconcept inmindwhenworkingonMultiMarkdown.
Imayormaynothavesucceededinthis....
Intheveinof Markdown’smultipledefinitions,youcanthink of
MultiMarkdownas:
1. Aprogramtoconvertplaintextto afully formatteddocument.
2. Thesyntaxusedintheplaintexttodescribehowtoconvertittoa
complete document.
WhyshouldI use MultiMarkdown?
Writing withMultiMarkdownallowsyoutoseparatethecontentand
structureofyourdocumentfromthe formatting. Youfocusonthe
actualwriting,withouthaving toworryaboutmakingthestylesof
yourchapterheadersmatch,orensuringtheproperspacingbetween
paragraphs. Andwithalittleforethought,asingle plaintextdocu-
mentcaneasilybeconvertedinto multipleoutputformatswithout
havingtorewritetheentirething orformatitbyhand. Evenbetter,
youdon’thaveto writein“computer-ese”tocreatewellformatted
HTMLorLaTeXcommands. Youjust write,MultiMarkdowntakes
careoftherest.
Forexample, insteadof writing:
<p>In order to create valid
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML">HTML</a>, you
need properly coded syntax that can be cumbersome for
&#8220;non-programmers&#8221; to write. Sometimes, you
just want to easily make certain words <strong>bold
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multimarkdownuser’s guide
7
</strong>, and certain words <em>italicized</em> without
having to remember the syntax. Additionally, for example,
creating lists:</p>
<ul>
<li>should be easy</li>
<li>should not involve programming</li>
</ul>
Yousimplywrite:
In order to create valid [HTML], you need properly
coded syntax that can be cumbersome for
"non-programmers" to write. Sometimes, you just want
to easily make certain words
**
bold
**
, and certain
words
*
italicized
*
without having to remember the
syntax. Additionally, for example, creating lists:
*
should be easy
*
should not involve programming
[HTML]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML
Additionally,youcanwriteaMultiMarkdowndocumentinany
texteditor,onany operatingsystem, andknowthatitwillbecom-
patiblewithMultiMarkdownonanyother operatingsystemand
processedintothe sameoutput. Asaplaintextformat,yourdocu-
mentswillbesafe no matterhowmanytimesyouswitchcomputers,
operating systems, orfavoriteapplications. Youwillalwaysbeable
toopenandedit yourdocuments,evenwhentheversionof thesoft-
ware youoriginally wrotetheminislong gone.
Thesefeatureshavepromptedseveralpeopleto useMultiMark-
downintheprocessof writingtheir books, theses,andcountless
otherdocuments.
There are manyotherreasonsto useMultiMarkdown,butI won’t
getintoallof themhere.
Bytheway—theMultiMarkdownwebsiteis,ofcourse,created
usingMultiMarkdown. ToviewtheMMDsourceforany page,
add
.txt
tothe endoftheURL.If theURLendswith
/
,thenadd
index.txt
totheendinstead. ThemainMultiMarkdownpage,for
example,wouldbehttp://fletcherpenney.net/multimarkdown/
index.txt.
8 fletcher t. penney
What Are the DifferentVersions of MultiMarkdown?
Thefirstrealversionof MultiMarkdownwasversion2. Itwasamod-
ificationoftheoriginal
Markdown.pl
script. Itworkedfine, butwas
slowwhenparsinglongerdocuments. Theplaintextwasconverted
toHTML, andthenXSLTwasusedtoconverttheHTMLtootherfor-
mats(primarilyLaTeX).Overtime,maintainingthecomplicatednest
of regularexpressionsbecame moredifficult, andabetterapproach
wasneeded.
MultiMarkdown3(aka
peg-multimarkdown
)wasbuiltusingJohn
MacFarlane’speg-markdown
5
asabase. Itwasmuchfasterthan
5https://github.com/jgm/peg-
markdown
version2,andtheunderlyingPEG(parsingexpressiongrammar)
made thingsmore reliable. Therewerestillissuesandlimitations
(someinheritedfrompeg-markdown,butmost weremyerrors),
whichleadtothedevelopment ofversion4.
MultiMarkdown4
6
wasacomplete rewrite,keepingonlythePEG
6http://github.com/fletcher/
MultiMarkdown-4
andafewutilityroutinesfromMMDv3. Thisrelease fixedmemory
leaksandotherproblemsfromearlierMMDreleases;itissafetouse
inmultithreadedapplicationsandaddsmany newfeatures. Byfar,
it’sthe bestversionto date!
Where is thisGuide Kept?
Thisguidehasbeenrewrittenwiththefollowingchanges:
• Thesourceisnowinthe
gh
_
pages
branchoftheMultiMarkdown
project
7
.Youcansubmitchangesasapullrequest,orbywriting
7https://github.com/fletcher/
MultiMarkdown-4
me.
• Youcanaccessthisinformationonthe web at http://fletcher.github.io/
MultiMarkdown-4
• Thesourceitself isacollectionofMultiMarkdowntextdocuments
thatuse thetransclusionfeaturestocreate amasterdocument
fromthe individualsourcefiles. Thesedocumentscanbeviewed
inthe browserasHTML,ordownloadedasPDF orOpenDocu-
mentfiles.
The Philosophy Behind MultiMarkdown
MyvisionforMultiMarkdownwasinspiredbymyunderstandingof
what madeMarkdownsowonderful. Markdownissimple. It’seasy
toremember. It’sintuitiveto read. Markdownavoidsthe “everything
but thekitchensink”problem.
Mygoalfor MultiMarkdownisthatitshouldbeuseablefor80%
of thedocumentsthat 80%of peoplewrite. Obviouslythatisnota
preciseestimate, buttheideaisthat mostpeoplecanwritemostof
theirdocumentsusingit. Some peoplecanwriteeverythinginMMD.
Somepeoplecanwriteverylittle inMMD. MultiMarkdown(by
itself) wouldnot beverygoodforwritingacomicbook, forexample.
It’sperfectforwriting anovel.
Acentraltenetof MultiMarkdownisthatthefocusisoncontent,
notpresentation. I honestlycouldn’tcare whetheryouwant touse
Arial,Helvetica, orComicSansforyourmasterpiece. Thepresenta-
tion/styling/appearanceisforyouto decide. Youpickthefonts. You
pickthecolors. WhatI care aboutwithMultiMarkdownisthatmost
(not necessarilyall) ofthe meaningofthedocumentisrepresented—
thisisalist,thatisatable, thisisatop-levelheading,etc.
AwellwrittenMultiMarkdowndocumentwilllookreasonably
goodwhether yououtputtoHTML,LaTeX,OpenDocument, etc. It
mightnotlook perfect. A pagemightbreak ataninopportuneplace.
Thetitle pageof aLaTeXdocumentdoesn’thaveanexact analogyin
HTML. HTMLdoesn’thandlepagebreakswell.
If you’rewritingyourthesis,publishing abook, orsubmittinga
documenttotheboardofdirectors—byallmeanswriteinMulti-
Markdown. Focusonthecontentandoverallstructure. Andwhen
you’reready,converttoyourdesiredoutputformat. Proofread. And
whenyou’resurethatyoulikewhatyou’vegot,thenfocusonthe
aesthetics. Insert apagebreak. Tweakfonts. Gowild. Butdoitina
toolappropriatefortheformat you’reusing. Thismightbeagood
programmer’stext editorforHTMLandCSS.Itmight beLyX
8
.It
8http://www.lyx.org/
mightbeLibreOffice
9
.
9http://www.libreoffice.org/
10 fletcher t. penney
ThePurpose of MultiMarkdown
IntheyearssinceMultiMarkdownwasfirstreleased,I’ve received
countlessemailsofallkinds. Agroupstandsoutthatseemstopoint
toaphilosophicaldifferencebetweentypesof users.
Computersarewonderfulfordoingthe tedioussortsofthingsthat
humanstendtonotenjoy andtosuckat. Forexample,Idon’twant
tohave toaddallthecolumnsinaspreadsheetby hand. That’swhat
computersarefor. Conversely,I don’t wanttoreadanovelwrittenby
acomputer(atleastnotyet...)
AsappliedtoMultiMarkdown,it’spurposeistohandlethe te-
diumofapplyingrepetitiveformattingrulestotext. Forexample,
havingtowrapevery singleparagraphin<
p
>tagsforawebsiteis
reallytedious. Thecomputershouldbe abletohandle thateasily.
Butthe usershouldstillunderstandwhythose<
p
>tagsarenec-
essary. ThegoalofMultiMarkdownisnotto say,“Don’tworryyour
prettylittleheadaboutcomplicatedthingslikeHTMLorLaTeX.”The
goalistoallowyouto learnandappreciatethingslikeHTMLand
LaTeXwithoutmostof thetediumthatgoesalongwithmarkingupa
documentbyhand.
MultiMarkdownisnot amagical“black box”that convertsplain
texttoHTMLwithalot ofhand-wavingand“paynoattentiontothe
manbehindthecurtain.” Programsthat usethisapproachtendto
resultincrappyoutput(e.g. Microsoftproducts,mostappstocreate
webpages“foryou”,etc.)
Sowhenyou’retryingtodosomethingfancy,ortryingto trouble-
shootaproblem,startatthe end. Lookat theHTML/LaTeX/whatever
thatisgeneratedandseewhat’sgoing onatafundamentallevel.
Onceyouunderstandthat,thenlookatwhat MultiMarkdownis
doing. I believe you’llhaveaneasiertime solving problems,and
probablylearnathingor two alongthe way....
Feature Requests
Ioftengetfeaturerequests. Somerequestsarereallygoodideasand
Iimplementthem. SomearereallygoodideasandIdon’timplement
them. Some,however,missthepointof MultiMarkdownentirely.
Icompletelyunderstandthatsomewhereoutthere,somebody’s
lifewouldbe completeifMultiMarkdownhadafeature that drew
apictureof abunnyafterevery15thwordofaMultiMarkdown
document. Butthatfeaturewouldbeabsolutely uselessto everyone
elseontheplanet. Addenoughof thosesortsoffeatures,andyou
endupwithMicrosoftWord. WhichIamsure istheonlyapplication
thatsomepeopleareable touse,preciselybecauseit drawsbunnies,
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