#Markdown throwdown: what happens when #FOSS software gets #corporate backing?
Markdown is a Perl script that converts plain text into Web-ready HTML; it’s also a shorthand syntax for writing HTML tags without needing to write the actual HTML. Markdown has been around for a decade now, but it hasn’t seen an update in all that time—nearly unheard of for a piece of software. In that light, the fact that Markdown continues to work at all is somewhat amazing.
Regrettably, “works” and “works well” are not the same thing. Markdown, despite its longevity, has bugs. But here, the software has an advantage. As free and open source (FOSS) software, licensed under a BSD-style license, anyone can fork Markdown and fix those bugs.
Recently, a group of developers set out to fix some of those bugs, creating what they call a “standard” version of Markdown. From a pure code standpoint, the results are great. Yet there was no surplus of gratitude. Instead, the “standard” group found itself at the center of a much larger and very contentious debate, one that’s ultimately about who we want in control of the tools we use.