Now that the map for the “Could Be” Project works and we have a good sense of the data needed, it’s time to get explicit about the other content in the project that we provide as scholars. There’s a reason for making these maps, after all, and for making a web project. We want to inform visitors to the page, and a map will typically not suffice to do so. That means there has to be some writing. My content will appear in a <div> I call #content that I put underneath the map.


You may have already noticed that writing HTML is not a lot of fun. The tags are clumsy and get in the way, making it tricky to write “human-readable” text. Markdown, designed by John Gruber in 2004, is an attempt to let you write human-readable texts that nevertheless can become usable HTML. You will write texts in Atom using the Markdown syntax rules, and then those texts get converted into HTML for your web project. Additionally, Markdown plays nicely with Atom, which has some built in features that make writing in Markdown even more satisfying.

Before getting into the syntax, I’ll mention this fun fact: you’ve already written some Markdown. The file I had you edit back in Chapter 1 is in Markdown, as noted by the .md extension.

I wrote up a simple Markdown cheat sheet on GitHub that you can use as a reference. When you click on the “Raw” button at the top, it shows you the raw Markdown I typed. Nevertheless, here’s a brief description of the syntax you are most likely to use in your project:

  • Paragraphs are just regular paragraphs with two returns between them, like in email.
  • For an image, you type ![Alt text](image url). I will describe images in greater detail below.
  • Links have a similar syntax: [Link text](link url) will create the HTML <a href="link url">Link text</a> with which you are already familiar.
  • Use _underscores_ for italic text and **double asterisks** for bold.
  • Introduce an <h2> by typing ##. Use three octothorpes for <h3> and so on.
  • Footnotes are [^n] where the footnote marker is supposed to be (n is a number), and then the corresponding footnote text is written at the end of the document like [^n]: This is footnote text. Footnotes aren’t included in my cheat sheet, since I load them as a separate extension, as you will see below.

For the “Could Be” project, I create a file,, to hold my content about Hastings Street:

## Hastings Street

Hastings Street was a major thoroughfare in the [Black
Bottom](,_Detroit) neighborhood of
Detroit. It was largely razed to the ground to make room for the [Chrysler

[^1]: The Chrysler Freeway is part of Interstate 75, which, coincidentally,
was also why 5th & Mound was razed to the ground.

Now, in Atom, I can go to the “Packages” menu, choose “Markdown Preview” and then “Toggle Preview” to open a new pane that shows what the Markdown I am typing will look like in HTML. The heading is larger than the body text, and the links, when I click on them, take me to the correct Wikipedia pages. The footnotes do not format properly in Atom, but they will look fine in the webpage.

Hotlinking Images

Using images on webpages sets up a series of issues. Simply copying an image from another website is most likely copyright infringement, even if you give credit. This is why my webpages are typically light on images; they tend to feature only images I have created or photos I have taken. For the “Could Be” Project, there are not many opportunities for images, but your project may differ.

If you do use images, I recommend hotlinking them from a dedicated image hosting site, like Imgur. Images carry a lot of internet traffic and are pretty much useless in Git, so it makes sense not to host them yourself in your own project.

Hosting images in Imgur is easy. Point your browser to, and follow the steps to create a new post. Once your image appears on Imgur, hover your mouse over the picture and choose “Get Share Links” from the dropdown menu. Copy the Markdown option and paste it into your Markdown page. Change the [Imgur] text to [a description of the photo], and don’t forget to type a ! before the opening [.

Rendering Markdown with JavaScript

Getting Markdown into a webpage involves having JavaScript intercede. Specifically, we will use the Markdown-it parser. I add it and an extension that lets me use footnotes to my list of <script> tags in could-be.html like this:

<script src=""></script>
<script src="" integrity="sha384-DztdAPBWPRXSA/3eYEEUWrWCy7G5KFbe8fFjk5JAIxUYHKkDx6Qin1DkWx51bBrb" crossorigin="anonymous"></script>
<script src="" integrity="sha384-vBWWzlZJ8ea9aCX4pEW3rVHjgjt7zpkNpZk+02D9phzyeVkE+jo0ieGizqPLForn" crossorigin="anonymous"></script>
<script src="[email protected]/dist/leaflet.js" integrity="sha512-lInM/apFSqyy1o6s89K4iQUKg6ppXEgsVxT35HbzUupEVRh2Eu9Wdl4tHj7dZO0s1uvplcYGmt3498TtHq+log==" crossorigin=""></script>
<script src=""></script>
<script src=""></script>
<script src="could-be.js"></script>

Markdown-it provides an Object that has a .render() method. The process that follows, then, is:

  1. Define and assign a Markdown-it renderer.
  2. Load in the Markdown file using jQuery.
  3. Convert the loaded file into HTML using Markdown-it.
  4. Print the HTML in the #content container with jQuery.

To accomplish these steps, I add these lines to could-be.js:

// Define and assign a Markdown-it renderer.
let md;
md = window.markdownit({html: true}).use(window.markdownitFootnote);
// Load the Markdown file with jQuery.
  url: "",
  success: function(markdown){
    // Convert the Markdown to HTML.
    let html;
    html = md.render(markdown);
    // Print the HTML to #content using jQuery.

The jQuery method $.ajax() is a more generic version of the $.getJSON() method we have already used. It takes an Object as a parameter, with a .url property and a .success property, which runs if the $.ajax() method runs smoothly. The .url property must point to a markdown file on the internet (say, hosted in your GitHub repository; see chapter 15 for directions on how to turn your repository into a webserver). That is, the value of the property must begin with http:// or https://.

And that’s it. Now you can write content in convenient Markdown and use jQuery to populate sections of your web project. See this page to see how far I’ve come on the “Could Be” project.


  1. Start drafting your own project’s content using Markdown in Atom. Commit the drafts and push them to GitHub.
  2. Add a #content container to your project’s HTML file. Have it load one of your Markdown files with jQuery and Markdown-it.