I do most of my writing in a text editor and format it with Markdown — articles, essays, blog posts, ebooks, and much more. I'm not the only one, either. Not only do countless people write with Markdown, but there are also more than a few publishing tools built around it.
Who'd have thought that a simple way to format web documents created by John Gruber and the late Aaron Schwartz would become so popular?
While most of my writing takes place in a text editor, I can understand the appeal of a dedicated Markdown editor. You get quick access to formatting, you can easily convert your documents to other formats, and you can get an instant preview.
If you're thinking about going Markdown and are looking for a dedicated editor, here are three open source options for your writing pleasure.
Back in the early and mid-1990s, there was a boom in dedicated HTML editors. Those were a mix of code editor and WYSIWYG tools, which were designed to get more and more people publishing in the then-burgeonening World Wide Web. As the years passed, so did most of those editors.
Over the last while, something similar has been happening with dedicated Markdown editors. Not to the extent of their HTML-only predecessors from a few decades back, but there are more than a handful on the market.
Those editors range from being just glorified text editors to some which are quite good. One dedicated Markdown editor that I've been exercising a lot is Mark Text. It reminds me of an open source version of Typora. While not quite as polished as Typora, Mark Text is quite a flexible editor.
While Apostrophe is my Markdown editor of choice at the moment, others occasionally catch my eye. It's not that I'm constantly looking for a new Markdown editor, but part of me likes to know what's out there.
Recently, I stumbled across an editor called Ghostwriter. Well, stumbled across isn't quite the way to describe this discovery. I've used Ghostwriter in the past, and was impressed by its combination of a minimal design and a decent feature set. So I thought it was time to revisit Ghostwriter.
Once upon a time, I used a Linux distribution called Ubuntu quite extensively. One of my favourite apps for Ubuntu was a Markdown editor called UberWriter.
What made UberWriter a favourite was that it was minimalist. It was clean with no distractions. It was easy to use. And it had several nice features that complemented its aesthetics.
Then, one day, UberWriter started acting wonky on my desktop. I can't remember how or why, but it became practically unusable — and not just for me, either. I uninstalled it, opting instead for a text editor and never looked back.
Recently, though, a friend pointed me in the direction of a Markdown editor called Apostrophe. After doing a bit of poking around, I learned that the editor is UberWriter in a new guise. Of course, I immediately decided to give it a go. Here's what happened.
If you've been reading my site The Plain Text Project, you know that I'm a heavy user of Markdown. I do a lot of writing with it. In fact, just about all of my writing is done with a text editor and Markdown. Mainly articles and blog posts, but also book chapters and editions of my weekly letter.
To be honest, I'm not one to use a dedicated Markdown editor. While I use a text editor called Emacs for my writing, I've also tried several dedicated Markdown editors. Most left me feeling cold. A few I found useful and worth taking a second or third look at.
One of those editors is ReText. While it's not the prettiest editor out there, ReText is a solid and capable tool with some useful features.