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CWAC AndDown: Markdown Utility Library

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CWAC AndDown: Markdown. Android. Perfect Together.

Markdown is a popular markup language for wikitext and the like. While there are Java-based Markdown processors available, these are likely to be slow on Android, where they run at all.

This project offers an Android-compliant wrapper around hoedown, a C-based Markdown parser and HTML generator. By using the NDK with this C library, parsing speeds are nice and fast -- 5K of input can be converted into HTML in about 1 millisecond.

If your objective is to put the results of Markdown in a TextView, or something else in Android that understands Spanned objects, you are perhaps better served using Bypass. That project goes straight from Markdown to a Spanned, bypassing HTML. However, if you are looking to convert Markdown to HTML to display in a WebView, or have other reasons to, um, bypass Bypass, then AndDown may be of use to you.


Option #1: Clone the repository and add the anddown/ subdirectory as an Android library project to your application. You will also need to install the NDK and run ndk-build from the project root directory, in order to build the .so file.

Option #2: Use the AAR artifact for use with Gradle. To use that, add the following blocks to your build.gradle file:

repositories {
    maven {
        url ""

dependencies {
    compile 'com.commonsware.cwac:anddown:0.2.0'

Or, if you cannot use SSL, use for the repository URL.

The AAR artifact contains compiled binaries for ARM, ARM-v7a, and x86, so you do not need your own copy of the NDK, unless you need a MIPS edition.


Create an instance of com.commonsware.cwac.anddown.AndDown, then call markdownToHtml() on it, supplying a String containing your Markdown source. This method returns a String containing HTML generated from that source.

And, that's pretty much it, at least at this time.

There is no statefulness in the AndDown object. It should be reusable without having to create a fresh instance each time. It might even be thread-safe, though this has not been tested.


The Markdown spec says that Markdown converted to HTML should use <em> and <strong> tags. On most browsers, those map to italics and boldface, respectively. However, the Html.fromHtml() method in Android that creates a SpannedString from HTML source flips those, so what you might be used to seeing in boldface turns into italics and vice-versa. This should only be an issue if you are displaing the Markdown-generated HTML in a TextViewWebView in particular should behave more normally.

Also, while hoedown is very fast, using the resulting HTML will inevitably be slower. The same 5K sample file that hoedown processes in about 1 millisecond takes a 100+ milliseconds to convert into a SpannedString via Html.fromHtml().

The author of this project is a complete klutz when it comes to C/JNI/NDK development. You have been warned.


This project has no dependencies. This repository includes a copy of the relevant files from the hoedown project.

This project should work on API Level 7 and higher — please report bugs if you find otherwise.


This is version v0.2.0 of this module, which means it is... well... it is what it is.


In the demo/ sub-project you will find a sample activity that demonstrates the use of AndDown, loading the hoedown README out of a raw resource and displaying it in a TextView wrapped in a ScrollView.


The code in this project is licensed under the Apache Software License 2.0, per the terms of the included LICENSE file.

The hoedown source code is available under its own license, which appears to be a modified BSD license.


If you have questions regarding the use of this code, please post a question on StackOverflow tagged with commonsware and android. Be sure to indicate what CWAC module you are having issues with, and be sure to include source code and stack traces if you are encountering crashes.

If you have encountered what is clearly a bug, please post an issue. Be certain to include complete steps for reproducing the issue.

Do not ask for help via Twitter.

Release Notes

  • v0.2.0: migrated to hoedown and Gradle
  • v0.1.1: added to support both x86 and ARM
  • v0.1.0: initial release

Who Made This?


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