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Community Participant

Markdown and Canvas

Has anyone explored using Markdown and Canvas (especially the RCE)?

I was just working up a bunch of content for a course, and thought I'd try it.  It went surprisingly well, considering the challenges I've had with other web-based rich text editors.

This was on a Mac, using basic Gruber Markdown.

  1. Write the text in your favorite text editor. (Bare Bones' TextWrangler, at the moment.)
  2. Open it in a MD preview tool. (Today it was's Mou). I suppose I could edit straight in Mou, but I use TextWrangler for lots of things, so it's just always there.
  3. Fix all the places you blew the line spacing or code.
  4. Copy the preview window. That's the one that shows the formatted text, on the right.
  5. Paste it into the rich content editor.
  6. Save it.

Headings, lists (ordered and unordered), italics, bold, tables (! - hadn't expected that) and links all transferred properly, with HTML structure intact. Lists copied with an extra paragraph tag in each list item. Sloppy, but even I'm not going to go back and fix the code in Canvas.

'</p><li><p>Log in to Canvas</p></li>' 
'<li><p>Click Help, then "Search the Canvas Guides"</p></li>'

So this just adds another context where I can use Markdown, and I suppose another way that Canvas is slick.

18 Replies
Community Member

Hey y'all,

I posted another feature idea about this before I realized there was already one in cold storage. You can vote on it here!

Also, if you'e still looking for ways to quickly move from Markdown to HTML for Canvas I'd recommend looking to Pandoc, if you haven't already. It's a quick command-line utility that will quickly convert between lots of different filetypes (including *.docx!) It's been a lifesaver for me several times.

I'll probably keep writing in standalone Markdown and converting with pandoc in the meantime, but here's hoping to see markdown support in Canvas in the near future!

Community Participant


Unfortunately, this seems to have been put in cold storage.

Yes,  @johan_larsson ‌, it didn't get very many votes, and so was archived after its six-month cycle. The most recent iteration I can find is" modified.... If that's not exactly what you're after, members can re-submit ideas as new for another round of consideration (How do I create a new feature idea in the Canvas Community?

Community Member

How is it possible that in late 2019 anyone doubts the value of incorporating markdown in a product like Canvas, that's heavy on formatted text creation? I'm flabbergasted.

I think it is important to remember that the average course developer in Canvas and any other LMS is not an instructional designer, is not an IT specialist, is not a web-developer and is not a coder in HTML or any other language. Your average Canvas course is built by faculty who are experts in English composition, nursing, US history or whatever else it is they teach.

While Markdown is incredibly useful for those with the requisite skills, and I am grateful my friend MLentini  for sharing this for those who can make use of Markdown or are wanting to learn how, I doubt it would provide sufficient ROI for the Canvas Engineers to incorporate it into the Canvas UI.

Thanks for the response Kelley. I'm reminded of the joke about the kangaroo who walks into a bar. (First paragraph here for anyone who doesn't know the joke: )

My students used slack. They didn't know its editor supported markdown. Once I pointed this out to them, they started using it occasionally. When I think of all the things in Canvas that need fixing, you're probably right about ROI. But it's a loss.

And just to be clear: I'm suggesting it as an **option**, not a mandate.

Oh, I get that,  @r-mcdonald !

I've been a teacher, a manager and a Canvas Admin for a long time. I am devious enough to use teasers as part of a strategy to entice folks to go further than they ever really intended to - just dip your toe, the water is quite pleasant!

Community Member


We've developed an App for Canvas that allows you to enter markdown through the RCE. I've posted about it on the feature idea:

Just posting here incase anyone who's interesting isn't subscribed to the idea.