4 markdown alternatives you should know

August 31, 2022



Markdown is the most popular plain text markup language by a wide margin. But do you know there are similar alternatives? In this article, we take a survey of other markup languages.

reStructuredText

reStructuredText, associated with filename extension .rst, is one of the earliest markup formatting language. It was developed by David Goodger in 2002 and has been used since then.

It is primarily used in the Python programming language for technical documentation. Like markdown, it is designed to be both (a) processable by rendering software and (b) easily readable by human.

Examples

Heading 1
=========
Heading 2
---------
**bold**
*italics*
.. _Wikipedia: https://www.wikipedia.org/
.. image:: images/cat.gif

Wikitext

Wikitext, also known as wiki markup or wikicode, is mostly used in Wikipedia.

Examples

= Heading 1 =
== Heading 2 ==
'''bold'''
''italics''
[http://www.wikipedia.org/ Wikipedia]
[[File:images/cat.gif||]]

BBCode

BBCode (“Bulletin Board Code”) is used to format messages in Internet forum software, first introduced in 1998. It shares similarity with HTML but uses square brackets ([]) for tags. They are intended for providing simple formatting instructions for rendering to HTML.

Examples

[heading]Heading 1[/heading]
[b]bold[b]
[i]italics[i]
[url=https://www.wikipedia.org/]Wikipedia[/url] 
[img]images/cat.gif[/img]

AsciiDoc

AsciiDoc is a human-readable document format, with focus on rendering to eBook or HTML. It was created in 2022 by Stuart Rackham. Some of O’Reilly Media’s books and e-books are authored using AsciiDoc mark-up.

Examples

= Heading 1
== Heading 2
**bold**
__italics__
http://www.wikipedia.org/[Wikipedia]
image::images/cat.gif[]

Summary

Markdown is not the only lightweight markup language, but it is by far the most popular one. Other languages do find their audience in specific use cases.

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