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Markdown vs XML: What are the differences?


In this article, we will compare Markdown and XML and highlight their key differences. Markdown and XML are both widely used markup languages, but they have distinct characteristics and purposes. Markdown is a lightweight, plain-text formatting syntax used primarily for creating web content, while XML is a more structured markup language that represents data in a hierarchical format.

  1. Syntax: One of the key differences between Markdown and XML lies in their syntax. Markdown uses a simplified syntax that is easy to read and write without needing any special software. It relies on characters like asterisks, underscores, and hash symbols for formatting. On the other hand, XML has a more complex syntax that requires specific opening and closing tags to define elements and attributes.

  2. Purpose: Markdown is primarily intended for document formatting and simple content presentation. It focuses on readability and ease of use, making it suitable for creating blog posts, documentation, and other similar content. XML, on the other hand, is designed for storing and transmitting structured data. Its hierarchical format allows for more flexibility in representing complex data structures and metadata.

  3. Flexibility: Markdown provides limited flexibility compared to XML. It has a predefined set of formatting options for headings, lists, images, links, and basic text formatting. XML, however, allows for unlimited customization with user-defined tags and attributes. This makes XML more suitable for representing diverse data structures and supporting specific application requirements.

  4. Validation and Standards: Markdown does not have any standard validation mechanisms or strict rules for adherence. It is mainly an informal syntax specification, which means that interpretation may vary across different Markdown implementations. XML, on the other hand, has a defined structure defined by DTD or XML Schema. This allows for stricter data validation and adherence to specific standards.

  5. Extensibility: Markdown is not easily extensible and does not provide a standardized way to add custom elements or functionality. XML, on the other hand, supports extensibility through the use of namespaces and can be extended with additional elements, attributes, and even custom document types.

  6. Tooling and Ecosystem: Markdown has a minimalistic tooling ecosystem, with direct support in many text editors, content management systems, and blogging platforms. This makes it easy to use and integrate into existing workflows. XML, on the other hand, has a more extensive tooling ecosystem, with a wide range of libraries, parsers, and editor plugins available for handling XML data.

In summary, Markdown and XML differ in syntax, purpose, flexibility, validation, extensibility, and tooling ecosystem. Markdown is well-suited for basic content formatting, while XML is better suited for representing structured data.

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Pros of Markdown
Pros of XML
  • 345
    Easy formatting
  • 246
    Widely adopted
  • 194
  • 132
    Github integration
  • 41
    Great for note taking
  • 2
    Defacto GitHub lingo
  • 2

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Cons of Markdown
Cons of XML
  • 2
    Cannot centralise (HTML code needed)
  • 1
    Inconsistend flavours eg github, reddit, mmd etc
  • 1
    Limited syntax
  • 1
    Not suitable for longer documents
  • 1
  • 1
    No right indentation
  • 1
    No underline
  • 1
    Unable to indent tables
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    What is Markdown?

    Markdown is two things: (1) a plain text formatting syntax; and (2) a software tool, written in Perl, that converts the plain text formatting to HTML.

    What is XML?

    A markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format that is both human-readable and machine-readable.

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    What companies use Markdown?
    What companies use XML?
    See which teams inside your own company are using Markdown or XML.
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    What tools integrate with Markdown?
    What tools integrate with XML?

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