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Markdown Editors: Something to suit Most Styles


It wasn’t long ago, there were few Markdown editors to work with. Now there is a plethora of editors all focused on the art of writing and as such, editors bring with them their specific style to support the writing process.

Writing Style and You

Markdown lends itself ideally to web publishing but to much else. With that in mind, I decided that I could, should I want to, write in Markdown solely.

There was a time when there wasn’t much to choose from. The best editor only a while ago was likely Byword. David Sparks wrote a book on Markdown and his favourite editor was Byword. However, there are a great deal of other choices now, some better than others. I thought I would quickly explore five editors that sort of fit in different quadrants.

Byword a Self-Publishing System for all

Byword has been around for a while now. It has always been considered top of the game and still is. It provides a distraction free, focused writing environment using a pleasant font and pure markdown syntax.

The editor itself is very nice to work in. In addition, it syncs to your other IOS products so you could start at your Mac, continue on the iPad and fill in a few words with your iPhone or iPod Touch. This is a very nice system from many standpoints.

One of its key strengths is you can offline publish with the product. There are few systems that can do this such as Marsedit and Desk, the former being the powerhouse of them all.

Byword is not only a safe choice but a very comfortable and convenient choice for editor.

Desk the New Kid on the Block that Needs Work

Desk was only recently introduced to some fanfare but has quickly shown that it has potential but needs work. The fonts are drab. The syntax is standard but it doesn’t sync to your IOS products. Finally, there are some things that just seem to work oddly .

It has the capability of offline publishing, like Byword but it doesn’t have the clean flow that Byword has. Regardless, it has tremendous potential as there is a natural simplicity in the way it publishes offline. I find though it a bit problematic with WordPress and can’t recommend this product. I wanted to mention it though as it being the new kid on the block might get interpreted as having the new kid on the block capabilities. Not so.

Ulysses the Powerhouse Editor

This editor is by the far the best choice of the bunch. It is a bit pricey but for good reason. It uses a database structure for storing the articles you write so there really isn’t anything you can misplace or loose. The key here is to have a good database library structure to work with.

Ulysses uses markdown but hides some of the rougher edges of the markdown syntax so that things blend in a bit better. At first, if you’re a markdown writer, this seems a little odd but you soon take to it and it aids in simply the reading and writing of your text.

There is a great iPad app to complement the Mac app. For offline publishing though I use Marsedit. I simply convert my Ulysses text to pure Markdown which is copied to the clipboard and then I paste this into Marsedit.

For many, they will just use Marsedit to do the whole job and this is more cost-effective. I just prefer to use the Ulysses editor and the combination works well for me.

Typed another new Kid on the Block

Typed is from Realmac Software, the people who make Clear, the very popular reminders application. This a very nice editor for a couple of reasons. The font you write with is one of the nicest I’ve worked with and after a lot of writing the eyes enjoy the most pleasant of fonts.

Typed is also a pure Markdown application with its focus on distraction free writing. Although the app is going through a couple of growing pains, it is a delight to use from just a writing perspective.

Again, from the publishing aspect, I simply take my markdown text and move it to Marsedit. Job done.

IA Writer Pro: To be Loved or Not

I find this editor the oddest of the bunch. It has four modes of operation:

  • Notes
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Editing

On top of that, the application attempts to teach you how to write. I find this a bit counterintuitive. Yet, it’s there.

Personally, I can’t stand the font in the writing mode and this can’t be changed. It’s too small and almost ugly. Yet there is a theory behind the font. Since I don’t like the font, I really don’t care about the theory.

IA Writer Pro though does give you another way of approaching markdown editing and it has a fan base so I wanted to cover it here.

My Favourites

For me, I’m fond of Byword, Ulysses and Typed. Ulysses is my favourite but I often find myself composing in typed for the ease on the eyes. This is one of the beauties of Markdown and in that it’s portable. Do not worry that your text will get locked into any program or that you can’t mix and match.

My ultimate favourite though is Ulysses with Marsedit for publishing but you will often find me composing with Typed. You will however, never find me using IAWriter Pro. Finally, I’m more curious about why I can’t get desk to work for me than that it doesn’t work for me.

The Quick and Cheerful Roundup

I wrote this article more or less just to describe how far we’ve come, in a very short period time, with options for writing with Markdown. This is only growing and will continue to grow.

There are other choices available to you. I just wanted to give you a smattering across a range of styles. Choose what works for you best and the writing will flow far easier than it used to.

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