Rich text formatting in Podio UI

20 Dec

You can have rich text formatting in your comments, status updates and app descriptions. Here is how you do it.

I am sure that you all are well aware of the much appreciated new feature; Share with anyone. Podio is really good at communicating their new improved features. Still there are some really cool and useful hidden gems in the web interface on podio.com.

All multi-line fields that doesn’t have the editor bar can have rich text without much effort. Bold and italic text, headers, lists, even images and tables can be inserted to make your status updates distinguished and your descriptions look better.

Bold and italics

To make text italic, wrap it in *asterisks*, and for bold **double asterisks**

Headers

Prefix text with one or more number sign (#) to make it a header. There are six levels ofheaders; use one number sign for the first header (the largest one), for the next level use two number signs etc.

# Header 1
## Header 2
### Header 3
#### Header 4
##### Header 5
###### Header 6

Lists

Prefix text with asterisk, plus sign or hyphen to create an unordered list.

* Red
* Green
* Blue

Ordered lists are even easier. Use numbers followed by a period.

1. Red
2. Green
3. Blue

Images

It's always easier to get help from the IT wizard if you include a picture of a cat. True story.

In my research for this article I found that it is even possible to insert images in these seemingly text-only fields. All the other tricks has been pretty straightforward and easy to remember. Images are somewhat harder to use and to remember but the added benefit definitely makes it worth learning:

![Alt text](/path/to/img.jpg "Optional title")

That is:

  • An exclamation mark: !;
  • followed by a set of square brackets, containing the alt attribute text for the image;
  • followed by a set of parentheses, containing the URL or path to the image, and an optional title attribute enclosed in double or single quotes.

Bonus: Images uploaded to Podio will work as good as any image available on the internet as long as the user has access to the file.

Bonus 2: You can even use auto generated images to display real dynamic data like this one:
![autogenerate](http://files.quickmediasolutions.com/images/location.jpg)

If you want to know how to create generated images using PHP, check this out.

Links

Links are almost identical to images:

[example link](http://example.com/)

Just leave out the exclamation mark.

Tables

Although the syntax is rather complex and tedious to write by hand, it is really cool that it is possible to create tables. By using an automated process, tables could add quite a lot to readability for large sets of data. This is how you create tables:

Use case

Here are some images on how you could structure app descriptions and instructions to make them more helpful for unexperienced Podio users.

Go edit your app and fill out Description and Instructions like this:

 The formatted text will show in the interface as below. A compelling and comprehendible overview.

 

Background

What you have seen in this post is Markdown syntax. Markdown text-to-HTML conversion tool with the main goal is easy to read even though it has not been converted. Right now, Podio has a limited support for Markdown since it is only the web interface that converts text. The smartphone apps just output the text as it is. Tables are not supported in the original Markdown, Podio uses the same syntax for tables as PHP Markdown Extra.

Big thanks to Adrian at Oval Solutions - you inspired me with this blog post and to Patrick Steil who pushed me to further research the possibilities in this question in the help forum.

Will this change how you write your comments or app and task instructions?

Have you found any other priceless gem inside Podio? Please let me know in the comments!

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  • http://www.churchbuzz.org Patrick Steil

    Thanks for the mention Carl!

    We use the Markdown functions in PodioTools so that we can format an incoming “email” into a Podio item including giving the user a nice little “blue arrow” they can click on to reply to the email directly from Podio! :)

    Patrick Steil
    http://www.podiotools.com

    • http://carl-fredrik.net Carl-Fredrik Herö

      Hi Patrick! Thats a great use case!

  • http://blog.podio.com Ryan Nichols

    Great post, Carl. One question: for status updates entered via the UI, it seems as you though you need something in the first line of your status update to “tell” Podio to expect Markdown.

    For example:
    “+ Bullet”
    works, but

    “Here is my list:
    + Bullet”
    does not.

    Is this right? What’s the easiest thing to add to the first line to indicate that it will contain markdown?

    • http://carl-fredrik.net Carl-Fredrik Herö

      Hi Ryan! Thanks, I was actually not aware of this, let me look this up and get back to you.

      • Adrien Blaise

        You need a space before bullet or numbered list for it to work:

        Mylist:
        - item
        - item

        …won’t work.

        My list:

        - item
        - item

        …will. HTH.

        • http://carl-fredrik.net Carl-Fredrik Herö

          Great, thanks Adrien! @rynnic:disqus Hope you’re happy with this response?

          • http://blog.podio.com Ryan Nichols

            YES, that’s it, perfect, thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/paturpatur Patur Vase

    Hi Carl,

    Thanks for sharing these great tips :)

    I especially like your tip on making tables. One caveat though is that when used in the app description, although they look great on the apps page, “tables” look like crap when you hover over the app icon in the top link bar.

    • http://carl-fredrik.net Carl-Fredrik Herö

      Hi Patur! Podio introduced that feature (a tooltip with the app description when you hover an app icon in the top link bar) about the same time I wrote the article, or maybe I just didn’t noticed that until after the article.

      The idea to show the app description like that is usually a good thing. But Markdown isn’t used that much and I think that they simple didn’t anticipated tables there.

      Quick question, how did you find this article?

      • http://twitter.com/paturpatur Patur Vase

        Sorry for the late response … hadn’t noticed your reply :(

        Not quite sure how I found this article, but I’m pretty sure it was by browsing podiohelp.com (great site btw ;)

  • Mikołaj Pastuszko

    Thanks for the article, Carl!

    I wonder if I could use Markdown syntax in editor with the toolbar at the top. It seems it is not possible, which causes some inconsistency, because in some places you can format text with editor and can’t use Markdown and the other way around in the other ones.

    What’s even worse, you can create tables in comments etc. but are unable to use them in the item descriptions (where the editor with toolbar is used for formatting). Quite odd.

    Do you have any workaround for that?

    • http://carl-fredrik.net Carl-Fredrik Herö

      Hi again! Just realized you were already on the thread.