How a React Markdown Editor Helps Make Applications Better

Here’s an interesting observation: People love using marked up or formatted content these days. For most modern users, writing formatted text is inevitable. For example, people format content every day to write emails, documents, web content, messages, and more. Markdown, a markup language, is one of the most popular and easiest ways that people can create formatted content. This useful and lightweight language involves using special characters (hashtags, asterisks, and more) to specify the appearance of content. To create bold text, for instance, you only have to put two asterisks before and after a set of text. Markdown editors are what we call the tools we use for creating Markdown content. And since React is one of the most popular front-end libraries out there, we’ll be looking at how a React Markdown editor helps improve applications.

However, before we do that, we must first explore the features of a React Markdown editor. Later in this article, I’ll show you how to easily implement one by integrating a Markdown-capable WYSIWYG editor.

What are the features of a React Markdown editor?

A React Markdown editor is essentially a React component with Markdown functionality. All of them allow users to write Markdown content, but some might have unique features or different specifications to follow. Here are some features that leading React Markdown editors usually have:

Syntax highlighting

Let’s say that you want to write some code for a blog or forum. Let’s say further that you want the code to appear as it would on regular text editors. Modern Markdown editors include syntax highlighting in them. How does it work? Type down three backticks followed by the name of the language (e.g., “`js, or “`html). However, it’s important to note that not all Markdown editors support syntax highlighting. That’s because Markdown doesn’t natively support this feature. But if your users need this, this feature’s worth it.

Split-screen view

This is a helpful feature common among modern Markdown editors. It divides the main window into two. The first one’s the editing window, and the second one shows the rendered Markdown content. That way, users can see what they’re actually making. This is good especially for those who are new to Markdown.


Markdown editors often fall victim to cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks because of a property called dangerouslySetInnerHTML. The best Markdown editors have found a way to not rely on this property, making them a lot more secure.

CommonMark compliance

A Markdown editor doesn’t have to comply with the CommonMark specifications to be great. However, this standard helps, well, standardize how people write Markdown. This means that users who are familiar with Markdown don’t have to study further if your editor complies with CommonMark.


While most React Markdown editors comply with CommonMark, some of them offer a little extra. Using plugins, users can extend some editors to include other features, like the syntax highlighting feature we mentioned earlier.

Now that we know what features to expect from great Markdown editors for React, let’s see how they can help.

How can React Markdown editors help improve applications?

React Markdown editors help users create formatted content without coding knowledge or pressing buttons. However, they’re not always the most efficient markup method for everyone. So why are they so popular and important? I can think of a few good reasons:

React Markdown editors are mobile-friendly.

Have you ever used any messaging or forum apps before? They usually have Markdown functionality integrated into them. Imagine you’re using such apps to talk with your family, friends, or co-workers. You wouldn’t want to use HTML or CSS to style your messages or comments, right? And while editor toolbars are really handy, their buttons might appear small when using smaller devices. So, mobile users might prefer formatting their content quickly using special characters. Because of this, they won’t have to put in extra effort to format text while they’re on the go.

Markdown helps users stay focused.

It’s important for people who use rich text editors, especially writers, to have focus. By using Markdown, writers only have to use the keyboard to format their content. This helps them avoid distractions that may happen when they move their mouse or use another application.

Markdown is platform-independent.

Most applications support Markdown. They are just plain text with special meaning, after all. Thus, if you create a Markdown file, you won’t have to change its contents for other applications to recognize it. Furthermore, Markdown works on most operating systems, devices, browsers, screen sizes, and so on. Whatever your tech stack, preferred tools, or browsers, you can expect that you can read and write Markdown content.

People love using a good Markdown editor.

Most people may not know it, but when they go to their favorite messaging app or forum, they use Markdown. It’s often easy for them, too. Hence, people tend to expect some sort of Markdown functionality in editing or messaging applications. By having a Markdown editor in your React application, you’ll have a better chance of satisfying your users. You’ll also get to give your users a fun and fast way to share their (formatted) thoughts.

Because of these reasons, Markdown will likely remain popular in the next decade, at least. Now, let’s discuss how you can implement your own Markdown editor in your React applications.

How to implement a React Markdown editor

Including a Markdown editor in your React application is pretty straightforward. You can either make one yourself or integrate a Markdown editor component. Each of these methods has its own benefits and drawbacks. I also strongly recommend that you look for the best React Markdown editor for your use case. For now, though, let’s focus on using a Markdown editor component for React. Specifically, we’ll be looking at using a React WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor with Markdown functionality.

A WYSIWYG editor is an HTML editor that offers convenience for content writers, developers, and more. Its name comes from its feature, wherein users can see how the content will look once rendered as they create it. A WYSIWYG editor typically comes with a toolbar and an editing window.

More advanced ones have HTML code view and Markdown support, along with other great features. In this article, we’ll be using Froala, a feature-filled, lightweight, and elegant WYSIWYG editor. It’s easy to integrate with React, and it also has great Markdown features, including a split-screen view. Let’s start the process with an easy installation.

Install Froala’s React component

You can use NPM to install Froala Editor in React.

npm install react-froala-wysiwyg --save

Import the necessary editor files

After installing the editor, include the necessary files using the code snippet below:

import React from 'react';
import ReactDOM from 'react-dom';
// Require Editor JS files.
import 'froala-editor/js/froala_editor.pkgd.min.js';
// Require Editor CSS files.
import 'froala-editor/css/froala_style.min.css';
import 'froala-editor/css/froala_editor.pkgd.min.css';
// Require Font Awesome.
import 'font-awesome/css/font-awesome.css';
import FroalaEditor from 'react-froala-wysiwyg';
// Include special components if required.
// import FroalaEditorView from 'react-froala-wysiwyg/FroalaEditorView';
// import FroalaEditorA from 'react-froala-wysiwyg/FroalaEditorA';
// import FroalaEditorButton from 'react-froala-wysiwyg/FroalaEditorButton';
// import FroalaEditorImg from 'react-froala-wysiwyg/FroalaEditorImg';
// import FroalaEditorInput from 'react-froala-wysiwyg/FroalaEditorInput';
// Render Froala Editor component.
ReactDOM.render(<FroalaEditor tag='textarea'/>, document.getElementById('editor'));

Configure The Editor

After that, configure the editor to your liking by passing Froala options in an object. Here’s an example from the Froala docs:

  placeholderText: 'Edit Your Content Here!', charCounterCount: false

Add the Markdown Plugin

Froala has a plugin-based architecture. This makes adding or removing features a lot easier. To start using Froala as a React Markdown editor, include the Markdown plugin with the filename “…/js/plugins/markdown.min.js“. After that, your editor should start supporting Markdown features. For more details, consult the Froala Markdown documentation page.

Use Froala as your React Markdown editor today!

Integrating a React Markdown editor like Froala can greatly enhance the capabilities of your application and improve the user experience. Froala can help you take your app to the next level by providing a simple yet powerful tool for formatting text and a wide range of customization options. It also helps you get every editing feature you need without being too heavy on your performance or budget. Froala is also developer-friendly, making integration with various libraries and frameworks like React easy. Furthermore, it’s already secure and compliant, easing your users’ worries.

In this article, we explored React Markdown editors, their best features, their benefits, and how you can start having one in your applications. Before you go, you should know that Markdown is not a replacement for HTML. It’s neither as capable nor mature. However, it’s an extremely useful markup language for users, making it an essential part of modern web technology.

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Posted on January 26, 2023

Aaron Dumon

Aaron Dumona former writer for Froala, showcased exceptional talent and dedication during their tenure with the company.

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