Mermaid.js for Diagrams in GitHub Markdown

This blog is a project diary, where I write down not just the final result, but all the distractions and outright wrong turns taken on the way. I write a much shorter summary (with less noise) for my projects in the README file of their associated GitHub repository. As much as I appreciate markdown, it’s just text and I have to fire up something else for drawings, diagrams, and illustrations. This becomes its own maintenance headache. It’d be nice to have tools built into GitHub markup for such things.

It turns out, I’m not the only one who thought so. I started by looking for a diagram tool to generate images I can link to my README files, preferably one that I might be able to embed into my own web app projects. From there I found Mermaid.js which looked very promising for future project integration. But that’s not the best part: Mermaid.js already have their fans, including people at GitHub. About a year ago, GitHub added support for Mermaid.js charts within their markdown variant, no graphic editor or separate image upload required.

I found more information on how to use this on GitHub documentation site, where I saw Mermaid is one of several supported tools. I have yet to need math formulas or geographic mapping in my markdown, but I have to come back to take a closer look into STL support.

As my first Mermaid test to dip my toes into this pool, I added a little diagram to illustrate the sequence of events in my AS7341 spectral color sensor visualization web app. I started with one of the sample diagrams on their live online editor and edited to convey my information. I then copied that Mermaid markup into my GitHub file, and the diagram is now part of my project documentation there. Everything went through smoothly just as expected and no issues were encountered. Very nice! I’m glad I found this tool and I foresee adding a lot of Mermaid.js diagrams to my project README in the future. Even if I never end up integrating Mermaid.js into my own web app projects.

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