RTF vs Markdown

Sorry for my noobie question …I have been using DT for a very long and actually I have just discovered the Markdown format.
My questions :

  1. I have thousands of RTF files, I can everything import images, import templates from Numbers, use wiki, take notes etc … …so its kind of magic
    So why should I use Markdown?

  2. Markdown seems to be very limited compared to RTF or is it only to take notes?
    Why another format? Am I missing something ?

Thank you for your comments

Markdown cannot easily** incorporate rich content like what you are doing with RTF. If those are the kind of documents you need, then don’t even bother with Markdown.

It is very limited and was never intended to be a replacement for RTF (or any other format for that matter). Many people use it for notetaking as you mention. It’s pretty good for that, but a dedicated outliner line OmniOutliner or TaskPaper is much better – if structured notetaking is your thing. For simple things – Markdown and RTF and Plain Text can each fill the bill just about as well.

I use Markdown a lot because it fits my bill. And I use it for the reasons John Gruber outlined when he introduced it to the world (see here). Brett Terpstra has a nice concise explanation of his own here. But, like you, I also use other formats because they have strengths in certain areas that Markdown doesn’t excel at.

You’re missing nothing. It’s fun to try out markdown – the syntax is very easy and DEVONthink’s implementation is as minimal as you can find. And if you don’t like it, then fine. You’ve got a good thing going with RTF already. Some folks like to predict that RTF will disappear – but that doesn’t mean Markdown will take it’s place. Unfortunately, like most things in internet cloud cuckoo land, a lot of people get very prescriptive about markdown because it’s sort of shiny and neat and nerdy and new. That’s not important. Do what you like to do. DEVONthink doesn’t care.

[size=85]** note to Markdown evangelists – I said “not easily” not “impossible”. But anyone who has tried to add images or rich content from other apps into a markdown document knows that doing so is not straightforward and involves sometimes tricky coding. Especially in DEVONthink. Other apps, especially Ulysses-class apps, do this very well.[/size]

tyvm most informative …

Well DT cares! I want to point to the fact that DT uses Apple rtf engine, which is very basic. If you are used to apply styles with software like Word, Nisus, LibbreOffice be aware that if you import your rtf file in DT it will delete completely these styles and you will get an rtf file completely transformed. I think that we should be very clear on this.

Have a nice day.

Quote me in context, please. I said “do what you want to do, DEVONthink doesn’t care”. The OP asked about using DEVONthink to edit RTF vs. Markdown. I told them it makes no difference – in DEVONthink.


Thank you, Korm, for explaining the differences so clearly (and for explaining the “social” context, too).
I understand better now.

Valuable topic from SmilingTiger.
I’ve wondered the same: Why use, or why switch to, markdown?

Markdown’s simple interface is appealing, while RTF is far more powerful, but more complex.

After many hours of trying different markdown editors, I decided that key macros provide all the benefits of both, while staying within DT’s RTF editor.

I use Keyboard Maestro to access the standard, RTF editing functions: bold, italic, underline, etc.
Plus more features not available in markdown, such as color highlighting.


  .b -- triggers [b]bold font[/b]

  .g -- triggers green

  .b.g -- triggers [b]bold & green[/b]

Keyboard Maestro triggers are up to the individual user: Not hard-coded as in markdown apps and DT’s editor.

I hope this is encouraging to those wish to combine the speed and simplicity of markdown, with the greater capabilities of RTF.

(If interested in exchanging ideas about this, I’m happy to discuss in off-line email.)

Just throwing my hat in the ring: RTF is not mobile-native or friendly and has extensions introduced in other apps that aren’t always preserved. (PS: I fully assert this is the responsibility of the developers of non-standard functionality to try and get others to adopt these features.)

I use Markdown every day now, increasingly so. In fact, I use Markdown for 95% of my Support responses. I also use it for creative writing.

Not only does it make for much more future-proof documents, it also brings cross-platform compatibility and is generally device agnostic. Lastly, processing text in an RTF file is NOT an easy task, especially reliably scraping the internals. Markdown = plain text = MUCH more easily maniuplated.

RTF had its day in the sun.
I suggest the sun continues to go down on it and eventually fade off into that good night. :mrgreen:

PS: Yes, there are unsupported extensions in different flavors of Markdown. I don’t use anything that requires special dependencies (the same way I approach automation and scripting). DEVONtech supports MultiMarkdown and any extensions it brings are the ones I use.

I’ve been using DEVONthink’s rich text editor and capturing portions of Web pages with the Rich Note Service keyboard shortcut. I do draft writing inside my databases using rich text, but reserve final editing/polishing chores in more capable word processors, such as Pages, after copy/paste of rich text from DEVONthink into the word processor. Apple’s rich text code is limited and simplistic - no footnotes, no endnotes, etc. I’ve got tens of thousands of rich text documents in my databases.

Rich text can include formatted text, clickable links, images, tables and lists – all of which I use to one degree or another.

Unfortunately, the comment “DEVONthink doesn’t care” is true on my Mac, but not so true in DEVONthink To Go, under iOS. Eric has had to do a lot of work to try to carry over rich text from Mac databases to iOS databases, but there can be problems, such as tables that fall apart and others. I don’t usually edit my rich text documents in the iOS environment. For that matter, I continue to do writing and most other database chores on the Mac, because I don’t want to give up the AI features and AppleScript that cannot be matched yet in iOS.

I grant that markdown is more future-proof and cross-platform compatible. But at this point I’m not motivated to try to convert my rich text content to markdown (if that were possible), as it would be a lot of effort. Or perhaps that it’s just that I’m an “old dog”. :slight_smile: