When you run or have not too long ago switched to a static website generator, you would possibly end up writing plenty of Markdown. And the extra you write it, the extra you need the tooling expertise to vanish in order that the content material takes focus.
I’m going to provide you some choices (together with my favourite), however extra importantly, I’ll stroll although options that these apps supply which are particularly related when selecting. Listed here are some key issues for Markdown modifying apps to assist the phrases stream.
Consideration #1: Separate writing and studying modes
UX ideas inform us that modes are problematic. However maybe there’s an exception for textual content modifying software program. From vi(m) to Google Docs, separate modes for writing and studying appear to enchantment to writers. Equally, many Markdown editors have separate modes or views for writing, modifying and studying.
I occur to love Markdown editors that present a side-by-side or paned design the place I can see each without delay. Writing Markdown isn’t the identical as writing code. What it seems to be like issues, and having a preview can provide you a really feel for that. It’s sort of like static website mills that auto-refresh as a way to see your adjustments as you make them.
In distinction, I’m not a fan of the one-mode-to-rule-them-all design the place Markdown formatting mechanically converts to styled textual content, hiding the formatted code (carried out in some kind by Dropbox Paper, Typora, Ulysses, and Bear). I can’t stand the work of futzing with the app to alter a heading degree, for instance. Do I click on it, double-click, triple-click? What if I’m simply utilizing the keyboard?
I need to see all of the Markdown that I’ve written, even when the top person gained’t. That’s one factor that I do need a Markdown editor to borrow from code editors.
Consideration #2: Good themes
Some Markdown editors enable full customization of editor themes, whereas others ship with good ones out of the field. Regardless, I feel an excellent editor ought to have simply the correct amount of styling to distinguish plain textual content from formatted textual content, however not a lot that it distracts you from having the ability to learn it and deal with the content material. Even with the preview pane open, I usually spend most of my time trying on the modifying view.
Completely different colours for every type
Since a lot of the textual content within the editor isn’t going to be rendered as it might within the browser, it’s good to rapidly see which textual content you’ve formatted utilizing Markdown. This helps you identify, for instance, whether or not a URL is definitely written out within the textual content or is used inside a hyperlink. So, I prefer to have a unique coloration for every Markdown type (headings, hyperlinks, daring, italic, quotes, photographs, code, bullets, and so on.)
Apply daring and italics types too
I want to make use of asterisks for Markdown formatting all over the place I’m capable of (e.g., daring, italics, and unordered lists), so I discover it useful to have further styling past coloration to differentiate daring, italic, and daring+italic. When skimming it may be onerous to distinguish between
**that is necessary** and
*that is necessary*, whereas
**that is necessary** and
*that is necessary* are simpler to separate. It additionally helps me see if I’ve by chance mismatched asterisks (e.g.,
**is that this necessary?*).
Completely different font sizes for every heading degree
This is likely to be a bit controversial and should break up the viewers. Code editors don’t present completely different font sizes inside a file. Colours and types, positive, however not sizes. However, for me, it helps.
When writing, hierarchy is the important thing to group. With completely different font sizes for every heading, you may see the define of no matter you’re writing simply by skimming by it.
Shortcuts and sensible keyboard behaviors
I anticipate all the usual shortcuts that work in a textual content editor to work. CTRL/CMD + B for daring, I for italic, and so on., in addition to some which are nice-to-have when writing articles, specifically CTRL/CMD + (quantity) for headings. CTRL/CMD + 1 for H1, and so on.
However there are additionally some keyboard behaviors I like which are borrowed from code editors. For instance, if I choose some textual content and press
( it gained’t overwrite that textual content, however, as a substitute, enclose it with the opening and shutting character. Similar for utilizing textual content formatting characters like
I additionally depend on keyboard shortcuts to create hyperlinks and pictures. Even after greater than 5 years of writing Markdown frequently, I nonetheless generally neglect whether or not the brackets or parentheses comes first. So, I actually like having a helpful shortcut to insert them accurately.
Even higher, in some editors, you probably have a URL in your clipboard and you choose textual content then use a keyboard shortcut to make it right into a hyperlink, it can insert the URL within the hyperlink discipline. This has actually sped up my workflow.
Bonus function: Copy to HTML
The editor that I take advantage of most frequently has a one-click “Copy HTML” function (with keyboard shortcut) that takes the entire Markdown I’ve written and copies the HTML to the clipboard. This may be very handy when utilizing a web based editor (e.g., WordPress) that has a code/supply choice.
Consideration #3: Stand-alone editor vs. CMS/IDE plugin
I do know that lots of people who work with static website mills love their IDEs and should even bounce backwards and forwards between code and Markdown in a single day. I typically do. So I can see why utilizing a well-known IDE could be extra engaging than having a separate app for Markdown.
However after I’m sitting down to put in writing a web page in Markdown or an article, the place I’m specializing in the textual content itself, I want a separate app.
I’m not fanatical about utilizing standalone Markdown editors over IDE editor or plugins; I take advantage of one sometimes for advanced find-and-replace duties and different edits. So long as it presents the advantages listed above, I wouldn’t attempt to discuss anybody out of it.
Listed here are just a few explanation why a standalone app would possibly work higher for writing:
- Cleaner interface. I’m not somebody who wants “Zen mode” in my writing app, however I do prefer to have as few panels open as attainable after I’m writing, which generally requires turning plenty of issues off in an IDE.
- Efficiency. Most Markdown instruments simply really feel lighter to me. They’re definitely much less advanced and do much less stuff, so that they ought to be quicker. I don’t ever need to really feel like my writing app is exerting any effort. It ought to launch quick and reply immediately, at all times.
- Availability. I simply haven’t discovered a Markdown editor in an IDE that I actually like. Maybe there’s one on the market; I simply don’t have time to strive all of them. However I like most standalone Markdown editors that I’ve used, and I can’t say the identical for what I’ve tried in IDE-land.
- Psychological shift. Once I open my IDE, I’m interested by writing code, however after I open my Markdown editor, I’m interested by writing phrases. I like that it will get me into the correct mindset.
My favourite Markdown editors for writing
Whereas these are my prime picks, it doesn’t imply that if an app isn’t on this listing that it’s dangerous. There are a number of good apps that I didn’t point out as a result of they’d too many options or have been too costly given the variety of first rate free or low-cost choices. And much like IDE packages, there are a ton of Markdown apps on the market and I haven’t tried all of them (however I’ve tried plenty of them!).
A be aware about options that enable you get “into the zone,” equivalent to “typewriter” or “focus” modes, or soothing background music. They’ve by no means actually labored for me and I ultimately flip them off, so that they aren’t a function that I’m going searching for. (Though in case you are into these, you may strive Typora, which is free (throughout Beta) and runs on Mac, Home windows, and Linux.)
My best choice
Meets all the standards listed above. It’s gentle and snappy, and open supply.
A superb, related various for Home windows and Linux is Ghostwriter (additionally free).
Good for in order for you only a bit extra performance. It provides a 3rd pane as a way to simply swap between your recordsdata and folders.
Free for private use; Mac, Home windows, Linux
For a extra full-featured app, the editor interface is fairly good, and meets a lot of the standards talked about above. Zettlr presents related options, however simply feels extra sophisticated, IMO.
$11; Mac, iOS
Not my favourite app for writing and modifying textual content, nevertheless it has the great added capacity to publish to numerous platforms (e.g., Medium, WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, and Evernote).
Free or $1.49/mo. for Professional model; Mac, iOS
A good selection when you use Markdown for extra than simply website content material (private notes, process administration, and so on.). Scores excessive in look and value, too.
With Markdown syntax being supported in an increasing number of locations — together with Slack, GitHub, WordPress, and so on. — it’s rapidly turning into a lingua franca for richer communication in our more and more text-based lives. It’s right here to remain as a result of it’s not solely straightforward to be taught and use, it’s intuitive. And fortunately we’re at present spoiled for alternative in terms of high quality Markdown writing apps.
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