Building a website in Markdown with Pandoc

Build a simple web page in Markdown; then convert it to HTML at the command line.

Creating a website is a lot of trouble – especially if you just have a few files you wish to publish online. You could type in all the HTML codes by hand, or you could employ a graphic design tool that looks simple but still might be more effort than you want to spend.

Another easier option is to use Pandoc [1]. Pandoc is a universal document converter. You can give Pandoc a text file in any of several markup formats, and it will convert the document to any of several output formats. One common scenario is to format a text file using the simple and expressive Markdown markup language and then use Pandoc to convert the file to an HTML page. Pandoc is a command-line tool, so it allows you to convert a file to HTML in a single command. A collection of command-line options lets you add extra features to the web page, such as a footer bar or a rudimentary navigation menu. With the right libraries, Pandoc can even read programming languages.

You wouldn’t want to use Pandoc for a complex site with interactive features and a backend database, but if you are just looking for a quick-and-dirty tool for publishing text to the web, Pandoc is a very good option. For instance, some organizations use Pandoc in situations where there is a need to maintain documentation that is accessible from the command line but still easily convertible to HTML.

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