affordances and limitations

Writing in Markdown

MacDown Logo

How Markdown affects my writing

After spending some time with MacDown, I quickly realized how different it is compared to other writing applications, lets say Microsoft Word.

For most classes and writing assignments, Word is the default application that I open up. Everything I see is familiar to me and there is a sense of comfort; this is all gone in MacDown.

This lab posting will go into detail about my general observations about MacDown and what I believe are the affordances and limitations with this application. By no means am I an expert at this but having spent time with this, I feel more comfortable writing.

Please enjoy!

Writing with MacDown: my observations

Here is a list that has similarties with word

  • Confused author
  • Blinking cursor

And that’s pretty much it. MacDown is such a unique writing experience in the sense that it is much more mechanical than Word is. While there is an option in word to see the paragraph breakdown, (indents shown and new paragraphs) MacDown is very much more different. Having to place the hashmarks and craft the syntax to portray the message is something that could be seen as a limitation.

I think Liu would be interested in writing in the Markdown style because it combines the traditional way of writing with literal coding. Markdown relies heavily on coding to fully have control of the text and message the user is trying to convey. If anything, Markdown is helping to preserve the old style of writing as it eliminates flashy text fonts, colors, and other heavily coded features in text writing these days.

Affordances and Limitations

As discussed in class, limitations and affordances are found in every medium, this is certainly the case with MacDown.

I’ll begin with limitations.


Right off the bat a limitation of this application is the lack of user friendly toolbars that help you craft the document into something that looks pleasing or what you are looking for. While the syntax is something that you can Google – this website is great: MacDown Help it does take some time to iron out any kinks and debug anything that looks off.

Another limitation is that it might alienate certain social/age groups. This is not an application that would be ideal for people with limited computer knowledge as again, there is no useful toolbar to help craft their messages. This seems like an application where basic knowledge of what each symbol means and how that affects text or inputting pictures.

Personally, I think while MacDown certainly has its limitations but like with most applications, everything has a slight learning curve. As with all mediums there are affordances, which we will look at now.


An affordance is something that has a use or purpose that a thing can have. An in class example that we talked about was the cellphone. It allows the user to always be connected to the world, while some can argue this is a limitation, it is mainly seen as a positive trait.

MacDown allows the user to really feel connected to their work, the words that appear on the right side of the application shows the polished product but the left side, shows a much more raw aspect. The user is able to have complete control over this and is not hindered by pre-written code as you might find in Microsoft Word.

One last potential affordance writing in MacDown or other similar applications is that because its a plain text editor, anyone can access this. It allows for text to be shared regardless of location or whatever application it is opened with. Just like the cellphone, we are constantly connected with others.


Although this was a daunting task when first opening up the application and writing in Markdowns, it turned into a fun little challenge or project. Having the ability to see the finished product of a line of ‘code’ was something that felt satisfying. Although different than any other word applications, it became clear to me why people enjoy this style of text writing. Having the raw files of text make it easy to share and edit on another computer without worrying about compatibility issues. However for the time being, this most likely won’t dethrone Microsoft Word as my preferred text editing software.

Thanks for reading!