Why did it take so long? I’m just imagining some product manager somewhere in Google who has been dead-set against the idea of adding native Markdown import support, despite the fact that the best Markdown export
plugin for Google Docs, Docs to Markdown
, is maintained by a former Google employee who largely built it while he was working at Google, and probably every programmer at Google is exposed to Markdown within the daily course of their work (given that it’s become the de facto default format for Readme-style docs).
Nonetheless, it probably looked like a simple equation to the product manager: A small portion of our customers are using this compared to our hundreds of millions of users that use Google Apps, despite the fact that the group of users is small and passionate.
But the challenge for them is, every other app that could conceivably be considered a competitor to Docs had a decent Markdown play. Dropbox Paper and Notion support it natively, as does every other writing application you can think of; even Microsoft Word supports it through a $30 plugin
The fact that you had to convert your document to rich text before putting it into Docs created additional, and unnecessary, room for error—which seems to go against the reason for Google Docs existing.
So that Docs has markdown is sort of a sign to me that the format has gained a certain level of necessity among mainstream users.
It’s sort of like when Burger King first started selling veggie burgers
back in 2002 or so; it’s not like any vegetarian is going to go out of their way to get a veggie burger from a place that famously flame-broils their beef, but if you find yourself in that restaurant and you need an option, it’s there for you.
Google Docs is not a Markdown-first app, and never will be, but for the Marketarians of the world, it just made their life easier.