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Fast, flexible markdown parser written in Swift
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NOTE: this project is archived. Before using it, please be aware that it contains crashes and may not be updated in the future.

Apodimark is a markdown parser written in pure Swift 3. It is fast, flexible, easy to use, and works with indices instead of String, which is ideal for syntax highlighting.


Parsing a String.UTF16View:

let ast = parsedMarkdown(source: string.utf16, definitionStore: DefaultReferenceDefinitionStore(), codec: UTF16MarkdownCodec.self)

In fact, you can parse any BidirectionalCollection whose elements can be interpreted by the MarkdownParserCodec given as third argument.

let s = Array(string.unicodeScalars)
let ast = parsedMarkdown(source: s, definitionStore: DefaultReferenceDefinitionStore(), codec: UnicodeScalarMarkdownCodec.self)

However, note that:

  • Performance can vary significantly based on the performance characteristics of the collection and whether the function can be specialized by the compiler. For more details on this, see

  • Currently, only String.UTF16View, DefaultReferenceDefinitionStore, and UTF16MarkdownCodec provide good performance because they are “manually” specialized in Apodimark.swift (when using whole-module-optimization).

The return value of the parsedMarkdown function is an abstract syntax tree of the document represented by an array of MarkdownBlock. A markdown block can be:

  • paragraph
  • header
  • list
  • quote
  • indented code block
  • fenced code block
  • thematic break
  • reference definition

Some markdown blocks (lists, quotes) contain other markdown blocks, and some (headers, paragraphs) contain MarkdownInline elements. A markdown inline can be:

  • emphasis
  • monospaced text
  • plain text
  • reference (link/image)
  • softbreak
  • hardbreak

Each element of the AST stores some relevant indices. For example, an emphasis is defined by:

public struct EmphasisInline <View: BidirectionalCollection, RefDef> {
    public let level: Int
    public let content: [MarkdownInline<View, RefDef>]
    public let markers: (Range<View.Index>, Range<View.Index>)

where markers contains the indices to the opening and closing characters of the emphasis.

this is an **emphasis**
           ^^        ^^
    markers.0        markers.1

Reference Definition Store

The ReferenceDefinitionStore protocol defines how to manage the references declared in the document. Consider this text:


This is a [reference][Key].

[key]: one 
[Key]: two

The definitionStore given as second argument to parsedMarkdown will determine whether [table-of-content] points to something, and whether [reference][Key] points to one or two.

public protocol ReferenceDefinitionStore {
    associatedtype Definition: ReferenceDefinitionProtocol

    /// Add a reference definition to the store
    mutating func add(key: String, value: String)

    /// Retrieve the reference definition for the given key
    func definition(for key: String) -> Definition?
/// A protocol for types that can be used as a reference definition.
public protocol ReferenceDefinitionProtocol {
    init(string: String)

Apodimark provides DefaultReferenceDefinitionStore out-of-the-box, which mimicks the way Commonmark handles references.

  • keys are normalized by lowercasing
  • if a key is is defined multiple times, only the first definition is remembered

Therefore, in the example above, [table-of-content] wouldn’t point to anything, and [reference][Key] would point to one.

Getting Started

Apodimark is available via the the CocoaPods or the Swift Package Manager.


Add this line to your Podfile:

pod 'Apodimark', :git => ''


Apodimark should be fast, robust, and flexible.

  • fast: can parse a million-character string in a fraction of a second
  • robust: withstands pathological inputs
  • flexible: does not impose strict requirements on the type of the input/output

It should also be very well tested and well documented. There are currently over 400 tests ensuring that Apodimark behaves like Commonmark where it matters. The documentation needs some work right now, but it should be 100% documented very soon.

Finally, it should not have any dependencies.


  • 100% Commonmark compliance
    Apodimark may differ a little bit from Commonmark. However, apart from a few features, Apodimark should behave exactly like Commonmark. You can see the complete list of differences here.
  • HTML generation
    Apodimark only provides an abstract syntax tree containing indices to the original collection. Output generation is left as an exercise to the user.

Example project