A Markdown parser for javascript
JavaScript Perl
Pull request Compare This branch is 2 commits ahead, 186 commits behind evilstreak:master.
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.



Yet another markdown parser, this time for JavaScript. There's a few options that precede this project but they all treat markdown to HTML conversion as a single step process. You pass markdown in and get HTML out, end of story. We had some pretty particular views on how the process should actually look, which include:

  • producing well-formed HTML. This means that em and strong nesting is important, as is the ability to output as both HTML and XHTML

  • having an intermediate representation to allow processing of parsed data (we in fact have two, both JsonML: a markdown tree and an HTML tree)

  • being easily extensible to add new dialects without having to rewrite the entire parsing mechanics

  • having a good test suite. The only test suites we could find tested massive blocks of input, and passing depended on outputting the HTML with exactly the same whitespace as the original implementation


Just the markdown library:

npm install markdown

Also install md2html to /usr/local/bin (or wherever)

npm install -g markdown


The simple way to use it with CommonJS is:

var input = "# Heading\n\nParagraph";
var output = require( "markdown" ).markdown.toHTML( input );
print( output );

If you want more control check out the documentation in lib/markdown.js which details all the methods and parameters available (including examples!). One day we'll get the docs generated and hosted somewhere for nicer browsing.

We're yet to try it out in a browser, though it's high up on our list of things to sort out for this project.


md2html /path/to/doc.md > /path/to/doc.html

Intermediate Representation

Internally the process to convert a chunk of markdown into a chunk of HTML has three steps:

  1. Parse the markdown into a JsonML tree. Any references found in the parsing are stored in the attribute hash of the root node under the key references.

  2. Convert the markdown tree into an HTML tree. Rename any nodes that need it (bulletlist to ul for example) and lookup any references used by links or images. Remove the references attribute once done.

  3. Stringify the HTML tree being careful not to wreck whitespace where whitespace is important (surrounding inline elements for example).

Each step of this process can be called individually if you need to do some processing or modification of the data at an intermediate stage. For example, you may want to grab a list of all URLs linked to in the document before rendering it to HTML which you could do by recursing through the HTML tree looking for a nodes.

Running tests

To run the tests under node you will need tap installed (it's listed as a devDependencies so npm install from the checkout should be enough), then do

$ ./node_modules/.bin/tap test/*.t.js


Do the usual github fork and pull request dance. Add yourself to the contributors section of package.json too if you want to.

## License

Released under the MIT license.