MultiMarkDown and Byword

So now my blog is living in the latest iteration of WordPress courtesy of WordPress.com I can concentrate on writing instead of keeping my blog free of malware.

Of course I spend quite a lot of time working on drafts of my posts. I could use the in-browser editor built in to WordPress but there are better tools on my Mac.

I like to be able to type it all quickly without taking my hands off the keyboard. I love keyboard shortcuts and now I love MultiMarkdown (MMD).

MMD is Fletcher Penney’s extension to John Gruber’s Markdown syntax. With a bit of practice I’ve found it easy to write Markdown syntax, the most useful additions in MMD are tables and footnotes. Using this syntax makes it easy to add web links, headings and emphasised text without having to take my fingers off the keyboard. I can’t emphasise too much how convenient it is to use Markdown to write, let’s list a few advantages.

  • Easier to remember syntax than HTML.
  • Quicker to type syntax than HTML.
  • Leaves your document human readable.
  • Can be opened and edited in any editor.
  • Supports a large percentage of HTML such as bold, italics, lists, code blocks, line breaks, tables and URLs.

So then the search is on to find an editor that supports MMD and works well for a writer (rather than a code jockey). You can find a nice rundown on 35+ Markdown Apps for the Mac on mac.appstorm.

Byword

Currently top of my list is Byword.

Byword fully supports MMD. It has a sort of preview as you type; with headings, lists and emphasised text shown, a single keystroke will show you a full preview. It also nicely dims the characters you insert for formatting.

When you want to put your text into a blog post then a single keystroke will convert your entire document to HTML and add it to the clipboard ready to copy into WordPress.

Byword also has a couple of other nice features for a writer. If you want to focus entirely on your writing it has a full screen mode so you can’t see Facebook open in the browser behind. It also has a paragraph focus mode that dims all your document apart from the paragraph you are working on. It even has line focus and typewriter modes.

Of course it has word and character counts and nicely supports spelling check as you type and all the auto-save and versioning joys of Mountain Lion.

For those that like shortcuts it has some built in to quickly enter the MMD characters for formatting. You hit Command-B and it enters four ‘*’ characters and places the cursor between them, for example.

It also has some nice export options, with the ability to quickly export HTML to the clipboard as well as export to HTML, PDF, RTF, Word and Latex format files. The ability to quickly export the HTML to the clipboard is invaluable when writing blog posts.

All put together it’s an excellent editor and well worth the $10. The authors have also produced a nice version for iOS that I use on the iPad.

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