Markdown on MacOctober 5, 2012
I’ve been writing pretty much everything from notes and blog posts to todo lists and essays in Markdown for quite some time now, and I’ve found some applications and tools for Mac that make it especially convenient.
iA Writer — Writing
iA Writer is often regarded as the very best minimalistic text editor available for Mac. The focus mode is brilliant and the typeface is perfect for writing. I also like the way the HTML exports from iA Writer look. However, as part of its minimalistic approach, it really lacks features and customization. Even the font size cannot be changed.
TextMate — Writing
Because iA Writer doesn’t allow for the changing of font size (and it the font size is rather large), I use TextMate with the Solarized style to write long documents (ex. documentation, long blog posts, etc.) rather than iA Writer. The plethora of text wrangling features in TextMate also make it a breeze to perform actions like indenting large blocks of code. TextMate can also export and preview Markdown with HTML, but I prefer using Marked for those functions. TextMate can also open entire folders of files at once. This makes writing Markdown easier in cases involving multiple files (ex. writing Markdoc).
Sublime Text 2 is a very popular alternative to TextMate (especially since TextMate 2 was not very well received).
TextSoap — Text Wrangling
I use TextSoap in conjunction with all of my Markdown text editors. I have created a variety of “cleaners” that help me quickly add Markdown line breaks, add bullets, and perform other handy Markdown edits.
Marked — Previewing and Exporting
Marked is currently my favorite Markdown preview and export application. I used to use Mou, but Marked has since taken its place. Marked supports exporting into a wide variety of formats, including RTF and HTML. It also allows for custom CSS stylesheets to be added. Perhaps the best feature is the automatically updating preview. When I edit text in iA Writer, the preview is updated in Marked with an indicator showing the latest change, without me even having to save the file in iA Writer.
I really like the Solarized color palette. I found some CSS stylesheets that may be added to Marked to export Solarized-looking HTML. It isn’t a perfect adaptation though, and some of the font and color choices bother me a little bit, but nonetheless, it has more or less the same colors as Solarized.
Day One — Organizing and Writing
I use Day One, developed by Bloom Built, to keep notes, links, journal entries, etc. Entires are written in Markdown. It’s ability to organize entries chronologically and its automatic timestamping is nice. The new photo feature is useful as well.
TextExpander — Text Wrangling
I have a variety of TextExpander macros or “snippets” that assist in inserting certain Markdown elements (like tables), especially those with parameters that need to be changed each time (ex. the column headings for tables). It really saves a lot of typing.