I can haz Markdown

My feed reader is the main source of online articles I read. I can tune how text is represented in terms of color, font size, font type, and other parameters. This is based on the content source from RSS (and Atom). There is usually no JavaScript-CSS-whatever trickery going on in these feed formats. Just text and media content, and I can consume it in my style.

In contrast there is the world wild web. I designed this blog. I tried my best to provide good typography but I am a typography-enthusiast backend developer. Please don’t ask me for much more than what is already here to see. There are many people like me, enjoying creating content on the web, enjoying self-hosting, but with little knowledge or skills to create the best reading experience. What I usually do when I come across a rather un-readable website (harsh colors, monospaced fonts, mini-fonts, paragraphs as wide as my screen, no clear visual boundaries - a lot can go wrong), I click on the “Reader View” icon in my browser and, like in my feed reader, I am able to tune my reading experience.

Too much trickery

The problem with Reader View is that it uses many tricks behind the scenes to extract the content from an annoyingly styled website. Sometimes it fails. Sometimes the formatting goes wrong. It is best effort.

We can do better, though. Many people write their blogs in Markdown. Hardly anyone writes in plain HTML. That means usually the life of a blog post goes from Markdown -> HTML -> magic -> Reader View. I think this is unnecessarily complicated.

This article in Markdown

In a terminal you can run curl -H "Content-Type: text/markdown" https://raphting.dev/posts/plaintext/ to get this post as markdown. I use Hugo to render this blog. Hugo can render “RawContent” as well, so it will leave the Markdown I write untouched.

I wrote this as a proof of concept. The way you consume my content should be in your hands, not in my amateur-frontender-hands. Reader View could pull the Markdown and render it without any tricks.

But is this not like…

Gemini? Yes, more or less. Gemini uses a default format that looks a bit like Markdown with extra options. Only special webserver can serve Gemini content because of the used protocol.

What I want is a browser integration that lets me view content my way. You write your posts in Markdown? I can haz Markdown?

By Raphael Sprenger licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0