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Issue 17.2 ('Barchart API')
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Issue: 17.2 (March/April 2019)
Author: Marc Zeedar
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 4,172
Starting Page Number: 12
Article Number: 17202
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Xojo developer R. David Sisemore has released his own Markdown converter for Xojo. Since it's pure Xojo code, it requires no plugins and should work on any platform.

Markdown is a plain text markup format [disclaimer: we use Markdown heavily here at xDev] that converts to HTML (and, by extension, to XML and other types). It's great for documentation and all sorts of uses, as it's far more flexible and portable than HTML and other formats.

One problem with Markdown is that there are many flavors or variations. People have added extensions to the language, such as support for tables, super/subscript, etc. that weren't part of the original 2004 specification. David has made his class support many of these, following the "Common Mark" [CMARK] utility originally written by John MacFarlane.

MarkdownDS may not support all the extensions you want, but it's more powerful than John Gruber's original converter. Also, since the class is unencrypted Xojo code, you have the ability to make additions and changes for your specific needs.

Sisemore seems to be keen on supporting his tool, already fixing many bugs and added features suggested by people on the Xojo Forum. That said, converting Markdown is complicated, and there still may minor issues that you'll need to work around.

Since the class is unencrypted, there's no way to preview the class itself, so David has released demo apps for desktop platforms that let you test the conversion. What's nice is he's made it so you can modify or use your own Markdown source for testing; however, the converted HTML is shown but not copyable, so you can't use the converter.

This lets you confirm the converter works with your Markdown, which is far better than other demos of Markdown converters I've seen. However, it's still difficult to test the speed of conversion, since you don't have the actual code to work with. In my rough testing it wasn't instantaneous converting the test source file, taking a couple of seconds, which could be a deal-breaker for some projects. (The original Markdown converter takes about half a second, but it doesn't support all of MarkdownDS' extensions, so the comparison is not apples to apples.)

Purchasing the source code is unusual, as Sisemore doesn't have a purchase page for it on his website. Instead, you have to run the demo and click the "Purchase Source" button there to be prompted for the payment process. (Another niggle: the price is listed as $49 in his documentation, but on the Forums he says it's $69. Confusing.)

But the bottom line is this is an excellent Markdown converter, better than others I have seen, and a good value for the price. Check it out if you're in the market.

End of article.