February 21, 2018
WonderPen Is a Tad Short on Wonder
WonderPen is another Markdown based text editor. It is from China.
One sentence review: It reminds me of Ulysses without all the attention to detail.
At the base, it is a Markdown based text editor. It is an Electron application. For those who care about that, it might be a deal breaker. For those who don't, this is an interesting product which lets you write on the Mac.
Like Ulysses and Bear it keeps its documents in a proprietary database and unlike them, it doesn't have an online component. No explicit Dropbox sync, no iCloud sync. Just a folder on your hard drive where the database resides. I suppose you can put the database in a Dropbox folder and access your documents through a second macOS device using WonderPen but I haven't tried that out.
It has some nice touches and some glaring omissions.
What WonderPen Delivers
WonderPen 3 Pane
WonderPen gives you a three pane window to write in. The sidebar on the left contains your document hierarchy. The middle window, the editing window, and a memo window to the right. Every document in WonderPen has the ability to have an assigned Memo window where you can comment on the document and the content for your own reference. It is a nice touch which reminds me of a similar feature in Scrivener.
You can preview your markdown and there is an usable full screen implementation.
The left sidebar is the project sidebar, you can toggle this on and off (⌘1). Like Scrivener and Ulysses, WonderPen gives you the ability to write in small chunks. You can have a folder which contains parts of an article you are writing. So, you don't have to write it all in one document.
You can move these component parts around by drag and drop or by keyboard commands. This makes the process of writing a long document and arranging it easier. This is important when you export the document, the export stays true to the hierarchy of files you have created.
If you have a ton of projects in the sidebar, you can reduce distraction by focusing on the project you are working on.
You can save snapshots of your work from a particular state and return to that state. The snapshot history is accessible from the button on the right bottom corner.
WonderPen Dark Mode
There is a dark mode and a light mode, but there are no themes or syntax highlighting in code blocks.
For an application which keeps your files in a proprietary database one of the important things to consider is how to get your documents out of the program.
WonderPen Export 1
WonderPen has a comprehensive set of exporting options, you can export to a PNG file, a PDF file, word document (docx), text, and HTML file.
WonderPen Export 2
I am interested in the text export and WonderPen does a great job of that. Giving me ample choices to make the product usable.
What WonderPen Doesn't Deliver
In random order of importance, things WonderPen doesn't do:
- Keyboard commands for Markdown. Yes, it does bold (⌘B) and italic (⌘I), but it doesn't support anything else.
- WonderPen doesn't automatically let you continue an ordered or unordered list. The whole process is manual.
- WonderPen doesn't support the autocompletion of brackets that makes Markdown writing easier. Nor does it make any effort to make it easier to include URL links in your documents.
- While it supports a well implemented full screen mode, it doesn't support typewriter scrolling.
- Doesn't support any form of spellchecking. There is a perfectly usable spell check function built into macOS, but WonderPen doesn't support that.
- WonderPen doesn't support text expansions built into macOS. Two spaces for a period or start every new sentence with a capitalized letter are not supported from the macOS system. This is disappointing because Caret which is also an Electron app does support the system features on macOS. So it is doable, WonderPen doesn't care about supporting those features.
- No support for Services, another aspect of macOS which makes it special and convenient to work in.
WonderPen Is Minimal in Its Preferences
WonderPen Preferences 1
You can assign a folder for WonderPen to keep its database. You get to choose the font of the editor and the font of the UI.
WonderPen Preferences 2
You get to choose to automatically backup, manually backup right now and access your backups through this preference pane.
WonderPen has promise. In its current iteration, is only a good place to write in if you are comfortable with Markdown. Otherwise there are better options available to you in the marketplace.
I liked the minimal ethos to the program. I like the approach to ordering your document contents through the sidebar and then exporting it out. The export options are adequate and I love the attention WonderPen lavishes on backups. Using the app to write this review I am enamored by its spartan UI. I find the lack of distractions helps me write.
The price is $9.99. Compare that to its more illustrious competitors: Bear costs $14.99 a year and Ulysses, costs $39.99 a year. WonderPen is not feature competitive with those products, but it has a similar three pane structure with the focus being on writing in text. WonderPen is the cheaper alternative. It is nowhere near as good as the competition but it is perfectly usable.
What is holding me back from giving WonderPen a full throated recommendation?
- The writing environment lacks polish. It lacks the care I associate with Markdown editors. No support for keyboard commands, no attempt to make Markdown writing easier. It performs more as a text editor and less as a Markdown editor.
- The support web site is in Chinese with a few English words strewn about. There is no way for a non-Chinese speaker to know the abilities of the program. There is essentially no documentation available for the non-Chinese speaker. If you make the app available in the US app store, it is a good idea to provide some English documentation.
- I personally wrote to the developer a week ago. No response yet. There might be a language barrier. But it does not fill me with confidence about the support for the program.
So, what does one say about WonderPen?
I like it. It does give you a platform to write in. Expect to write all of the Markdown syntax yourself. The library function is well implemented. The security of the data is explicitly maintained and supported. The export options are adequate. The memo function for every document is a nice innovation. The program has promise with some caveats.
It has a light version available for you to try out the product. Here. You can take it out for a test drive.
WonderPen is recommended for those on a budget.
Update: I heard from the developer of WonderPen. He says that improvements are coming. I am excited about the future of this application.
macosxguru at the gmail thingie
February 12, 2018
Quick and Easy Scratch Pads
Product: Scrawl Product Link: Mac App Store Link
Purchase Link: Mac App Store Link
Product: FiveNotes | Apptorium Purchase Link: Mac App Store Link Price: $4.99
During your work on the computer there are little things which you need to keep a record of. The expectation being that you are going to get to it a later stage. It is the quintessential sticky note solution. You have to keep a record of it, copy and paste it, accessible and available to you when you need it. These are programs trying to solve that problem for you.
I have written about this category of products before:
In this article I am going to cover four more.
The developer of Tyke describes it as "A little bit of scratch paper that lives on your Mac menu bar." It is an apt description for a program which is focused on its single task: providing you a little window to type your note into. No preferences but one, and a strange one at that, you can enable/disable smart quotes, nothing else. This is the most basic of the four products I am going to describe in this article. It is free. It does what it sets out to do and is a treat to work in.
This is recommended if you are looking for the most basic implementation of a note-taking window.
Scrawl is a more complete product than Tyke. For one, it has an iOS counterpart, called Scrawl Notes. It has iCloud syncing built in and it has preferences. Okay, the preferences are minimal:
It gives you the choice of where you want Scrawl to show up: menubar, dock or both. You can setup Scrawl to launch when you log in.
Like Tyke, Scrawl gives you a single window to type in.
Focused on a single task, this is a well-designed application and the added benefit of syncing the contents of the singular note across your devices makes this useful.
Simple, elegant and useful. Scrawl is highly recommended if you want your note to be available on both your macOS and iOS devices.
Airnotes is another of these one document note-taking apps which reside on the menubar. Like Scrawl, it saves its documents in iCloud. The sync is waiting to be completed by the launch of the iOS version of the program.
Unlike any of the other options listed here, Airnotes lets you choose your own font from your list of installed fonts. This alone makes it makes it more usable to me.
The rest of the preferences are somewhat strange. You can post the content to Facebook. I have not tried this feature. You can copy a link to the product from the App Store from this preference pane. The link points to the Mac App Store.
Airnotes won me over with the ability to choose my own font, but besides that this is indistinguishable from any of the other offerings. Till it launches an iOS version, this is constrained by being a macOS only solution.
Airnotes works and is efficient. Recommended if you are currently looking for a macOS only solution and font choice is important to you.
Five Notes Icon
Five Notes is the only commercial app in this round up. It is distinguished by giving you five note spaces instead of one.
Five Notes Window
Five Notes has some features which make it compelling:
- Five Notes has the ability to manage five different notes. You switch between the notes with ⌘+(number of note).
- Supports the share extension built in to macOS.
- Supports the basic elements of Markdown, headers, bold and italic text, quotes and lists.
- Unlike the others in this list, this implements a user selectable keyboard command to get to the editing window without having to tap icons on the menubar.
Five Notes Preferences
Five Notes has a set of preferences which make the product useful:
- Five Notes doesn't give you the ability to use your own fonts but it does give you the ability to choose the size of the font display.
- Lets the Five Notes window stay on top and display/hide its window at start.
- Gives you the option of launching Five Notes on startup.
Five Notes is the most accomplished of the products in this collection. It is distinguished by its support of Markdown and its provision of five editing windows instead of the single one of its competitors.
If you are going to be using a scratchpad, and don't mind spending $4.99 for that task, Five Notes is the product I heartily recommend.
macosxguru at the gmail thingie
December 28, 2017
Favorite Mac Applications for 2017
I am going to cover some of my favorite applications of the year 2017. I am primarily a writer, which means that the bias of the focus will be on apps which I use to write. Let's get started:
MultiMarkdown Composer Does Markdown Better
MultiMarkdown Composer reached version 4.0 and took over all my writing in Markdown. Customized for writing in MultiMarkdown. Full of little touches which make writing an absolute pleasure. Designed well, implemented perfectly, this is the product which made my 2017 exciting and fun. I wrote about it here.
Bear Conquers Note-Taking
If I was to design the ideal note-taking application, it would look a lot like Bear. It was my App of the Year for 2016 and over the year 2017 Bear has improved on the product to make it an ideal note-taking application. New themes, multi-word tags, infinite tag nesting, tag auto-completion, has enhanced the experience of note keeping in Bear. The only thing it lacks at this point? Typewriter scrolling. This is a feature which developers who write code don't seem to appreciate as much. For a writer, this is a must-have feature. There are two products I use which are constrained by the absence of typewriter scrolling, Bear and BBEdit. They both suffer from that.
iA Writer Manages Your Files and Introduces a New Font
iA Writer has upped its game with the ability to manage your text files in their assigned folders. iCloud support to facilitate the cross-device access to your text files. The ability to add images, and content blocks makes iA Writer an amazing Markdown based text editor. I have written about it here and here.
iA Writer is iconic. Defined by its use of a customized version of Nitti, and the blue thick cursor, the developers of iA Writer introduced a new font to the mix. They wrote In Search Of The Perfect Writing Font – iA, and gave the community iA Writer Duospace. Duospace is my working font in all applications which give me the ability to choose my own font, including iA Writer.
Ulysses Rides the Subscription Wave
Ulysses introduced subscription pricing and it's user base divided into two camps:
- Ho hum. Here is my money.
- You barmy?
The product continues to evolve. One of the best environments to write in, it is enhanced with the support for Paste from Markdown and Copy as Markdown. These two commands has made it easier to work in Ulysses if you are writing exclusively in Markdown.
One of the arguments for the switch to subscription pricing was the issue of product development. In the old revenue model, important features were held back to be combined into a compelling case for upgrade revenue. In the subscription model, there is no need for such restraint. Features big and small can be rolled into the product when available. I am awaiting table support.
Scrivener Upgrades to 3.0
If you are serious about writing, you have to try Scrivener. They recently introduced version 3.0. It brought with it, a whole host of features and improvements. For me, the important ones were:
- Completely redone compile.
- Amazing support for MultiMarkdown built in.
- Complete modernization and overhaul of the interface.
Scrivener is one of the applications which you can live in. Everything you do in the domain of writing can be handled by Scrivener. I use it for long form writing.
Keyboard Maestro and Alfred Keep Growing Up
Keyboard Maestro released version 8.0 and Alfred went up to 3.5. These are two products which make my computer run. I use them all the time and I can't imagine using a Mac without these two programs being installed.
Though these get a lot of use on my computer, I find myself struggling to explain what they do for me. It might be that they do so much that it is difficult to explain. They do everything. In no particular order these are only a subset of tasks they perform for me.
- Launch programs
- Open documents with particular programs
- Open a set of programs when I first switch on the computer. Open a different set of programs when I work on some other task.
- Open a set of URL's when I am in one project and open a different set of URL's when I am on a different project. Open a set of URL's when I want sports news, and a different set of URL's when I want political news.
- Select a set of files and perform some action on all of them at once. For instance, select a set of compressed files in the Finder, decompress them and then move to trash the original compressed files.
- Start a timer.
- Have a set of keyboard commands which let me write in Markdown irrespective of which editor I am using.
- Empty trash without leaving the keyboard.
- Use typed strings to perform actions in applications. For instance, in Ulysses, to switch to editor only view, I can type,
,edit. To show the library? Type
- Expand snippets of text into pre-set boilerplate text. Alfred and Keyboard Maestro handle all the text expansions which I used to use with TextExpander.
This is not an exhaustive or comprehensive list of things I do in Alfred and Keyboard Maestro. These two programs are essential to my workflow. They are improving all the time and the communities around the two are enhancing the product with macros and workflows which make life easier for other users.
Outlining with OmniOutliner
OmniOutliner with version 5.0 decided to appeal to much lower price points. $9.99 for the Essential version and $59.99 for the Pro version made it possible for the product to appeal to a broad swath of consumers. Feature rich, extremely customizable (more the Pro than the Essential), and dedicated to outlines in all their glory, this is a deep product which is always launched on my machine. I love lists and OmniOutliner is where I create them.
OmniOutliner helps me think through things. Decisions have different elements to them and an outline helps me put it all together and evaluate different courses. Which brings me to the next application.
Curio Helps Me Think Things Through
Available in versions ranging in price from $59.99 to $139.99 Curio is an unique program. Mind maps, Lists, Index Cards, Tables, Stacks and Pinboards are all tools which are available in Curio. This is the program which does it all.
I live in Curio. I use it whenever I have to think things through. I use it when I find myself stuck. I start thinking in it, and having no clue where I am going I start putting the random thoughts in my mind in to Curio. Over time, the picture clarifies and if I am lucky, a path comes out of this exercise. There are times when I am not stuck but it is just the opposite, I have too many ideas. It is as harmful to my productivity. I use Curio to show me the way. I start writing in it, I don't think too much, I use the tools to get into Curio the random ideas in my head. The act of writing them down in Curio, clarifies them, simplifies them, helps me break it down to the essence and that gets my mind sorted out and gives me direction and clarity.
Curio is better than a mind map solution like MindNode or iThoughtsX because it does more. It doesn't restrict me to mind maps only, it gives me tools like lists, tables, index cards and others to fit my thinking into. That makes the process easier for me. I can make lists in Curio, I can make mind maps in Curio. Sometimes what I am thinking about is better handled by a table. No problem. Curio does that for me. I love Curio. I wrote about it here.
However, if you are looking for a mind mapping application both MindNode and iThoughtsX are very decent solutions for that need.
myTuner Radio Pro Keeps Me Connected
myTuner Radio Pro is a radio/podcast application available from the Mac App Store. I find myself listening to radio from England and India in it. It reminds me of the shortwave radio I used to listen to in my youth in Calcutta. I had to turn the dial and catch snippets of whole programs from the BBC, or the VOA, commentary on cricket test matches played in Barbados, Wellington, or Melbourne. It was exhilarating hearing sounds from far away, and accents which made my sing-song Indian english appear strange even to me.
myTunerPro is the modern day equivalent of the shortwave radio. You don't need to have minute control over the dial, the antennae need not be powerful, myTunerPro just sits on the menubar giving you access to 40,000 radio stations from 200 countries. It also gives you access to podcasts from all over the world and is always playing something on my computer.
SuperDuper! Lets You Be Safe and Clone Your Hard Drive
I use SuperDuper! to clone my internal hard drive to an external one. It has been working like a charm and gives me the ability to have a bootable backup of my system always available.
People I trust tell me that Carbon Copy Cloner is also very good at this task. I use SuperDuper!.
Both of these programs do the same thing. Gives you the ability to create a bootable clone of your hard drive. After you clone the hard drive the first time, you have the option in both programs to do incremental backups. Incorporate into your clone all the changes that have occurred since the initial clone. This takes a fraction of the time of a full backup. Both of these programs are heartily recommended and are a necessary component of my backup strategy.
We are lucky in the macOS space to have such great products available to us from some good developers. I thank them for making my life better.
Thank you all.
macosxguru at the gmail thingie
December 17, 2017
MultiMarkdown Composer Is My Markdown Based Text Editor
Product: MultiMarkdown Composer v4
Price: Free, Standard Edition: $14.99, Pro Edition $29.99
In the crowded field of Markdown based text editors, MultiMarkdown Composer (Composer) is a differentiated beast. For one, it is based on MultiMarkdown or MMD. MMD is a superset of the Markdown syntax, originally created by John Gruber. It adds multiple syntax features (tables, footnotes, and citations, to name a few). In addition, it outputs to various formats including HTML, PDF (by way of LaTeX), OPML, or OpenDocument (specifically, Flat OpenDocument or ‘.fodt’, which can in turn be converted into RTF, Microsoft Word, or virtually any other word-processing format). The original Markdown only outputs to HTML.
iA Writer is another product which supports MMD, with a few tweaks.
Secondly, Composer is designed for more than the individual document creation that most of the minimalistic Markdown based writing applications specialize in. This is an application which lends itself to the production of long form documents with images, tables, footnotes and citations if you so wish. It includes math support, automatic cross-referencing, glossary entries(LaTeX), and document metadata when you need it.
Conceptually, Composer is a Markdown based text-editor for writers who want to go beyond the constraints of the Markdown designed by Gruber.
If you look at the market of text editors, the two main categories were:
- Full featured text editors like BBEdit, Sublime Text 3, TextMate, and Atom. These products through extensions and plugins have the ability to handle every flavor of Markdown that you can throw at it. These are capable but complicated beasts.
- Minimalistic Markdown based text editors like iA Writer and Byword. These products support a subset of the functions of a text editor. Geared for writing Markdown, they concentrate on providing an optimized environment for writing in Markdown syntax with keyboard commands and syntax support being the focus.
We have a new category populated by MultiMarkdown Composer. With keybindings, macros and completions, Composer is in the middle of the two categories. Not as feature rich as the archetypical text editor, but not as feature deficient as the minimalistic text editor. With a detailed system of preferences, support for MathJax and CriticMarkup, text completions, and keybindings, Composer is positioned between the two extremes. The only competitor who might challenge Composer is Typora when the later comes out of beta. However, the wait for that seems interminable.
Changes in the Workflow
Readers of the blog know that my workflow consisted of writing and editing in iA Writer and managing files in Sublime Text 3. There have been two changes to the workflow. I have given up on managing my text files through a text editor. Don't need that. The Finder does a good job of that. So, iA Writer became the mainstay of my writing. It is a great Markdown based text editor. But Composer is better at certain things and has now joined the workflow. I now write in Composer and the final edit is done in iA Writer.
Composer provides the following advantages over iA Writer:
- Composer deals with multiple open files. Thanks to its support of the system tabs feature, I can have multiple documents open in tabs in a single window. Reduces clutter and makes it possible to have multiple documents easily accessible.
- Composer is more extendible than iA Writer. In fact, iA Writer by design is not extendible at all.
- Composer supports CriticMarkup.
- Composer supports Table of Contents (TOC) in its sidebar. This makes navigation simpler for large documents. Makes it possible to change the order of sections in documents by dragging and dropping sections into the desired order.
- Typewriter scrolling can be set for the spot you desire. iA Writer doesn't let you customize this.
- Text expansions make it possible to write with less effort.
- Composer keybindings let you make changes to existing keyboard commands and add your own keyboard commands.
- Theme support makes available other options beyond dark and white.
What are the advantages of iA Writer over Composer?
- One program. You can both write and edit here. Living in one program has certain advantages.
- Narrower focus. Which means a shorter learning curve.
- Editing component. Grammar check helps people like me write a tad better.
- Less options necessarily means less tweaking.
- Swiping to access the directory structure and preview is even easier than keyboard commands.
So, I switched the writing function to Composer. I have been writing in it for about a month now and I must say that I am falling in love with the application. It feels like an application designed by a writer of Markdown. And it is. Fletcher Penny the developer is also the man behind MultiMarkdown. He designed the markup language with inspiration from Gruber and he wrote the application MultiMarkdown Composer to write in it. There are little touches across the program which make it easy to write in Markdown and it is a pleasure to live in.
What Makes Composer Special?
What does MultiMarkdown Composer version 4 bring to the genre of Markdown based text editors that make it special?
You get to see the output of the file you are working on in real time. For those of you who are new to Markdown, this will show you exactly how your finished output will look. You can use custom CSS for the preview. Additionally you can turn off the MultiMarkdown Composer preview and use Marked 2 for previewing your document.
MultiMarkdown Composer supports themes and ships with a collection of themes. You can learn how to customize or create your own themes at MultiMarkdown Composer v4 Themes.
You can also go to my github repository of Composer themes, to download the initial work in progress on an iA Writer Dark and Light theme. I am going to post themes in this repository as I finish working on them. Keep a lookout for those.
Math and Other Esoteric Elements
When you type the first part of the syntax for Markdown, the application automatically completes the pair. You can also select text and type the first character of the Markdown syntax and the application surrounds the highlighted text with your Markdown code.
This is difficult to explain, so, I am going to quote from the MultiMarkdown Composer website:
"Years ago, Nick Gravgaard created a project that provided better tabstop support for certain editors, and that concept is supported in MultiMarkdown Composer. Rather than assigning a fixed number of spaces to a tab character, or a fixed width, tabs represent “columns” of text. Contiguous lines of text are examined to ensure that the columns are wide enough to contain the text in each line. This allows you to easily see your text the way it is meant to be seen, regardless of whether you use a monospace or proportional font."
You can learn more about Elastic Tabstops.
Easy Line Shifting
Menu commands with assigned keyboard commands lets you move highlighted lines of text up/down/left/right.
Easy Line Shifting
Conversion Between Markdown Block Types
I don't think any of the other Markdown editors do this.
Markdown Block Type Conversions
You can take any text and easily add or remove Markdown markup. You can convert any instance of Markdown formatted text to Blockquote, or a Ordered List or an Unordered List, and so on. A convenient and useful feature.
Clean Up Imported Text
Composer has a slew of commands you can use to clean up text, as well as commands to clean up the formatting of Markdown and MultiMarkdown structures. This is another feature which I haven't seen in any other Markdown editor.
Clean Up Imported Text
Composer helps you write by providing some formatting help. If you are writing an ordered list, Composer takes care of the numbers. If it is an unordered list, the bullets are taken care of by Composer. Have a link on the clipboard? Highlight the word you want to attach to the link and press ⌘V. Turns into a formatted Markdown link.
Composer generates a Table of Contents (TOC) sidebar from the headings in your document. Clicking on a heading takes you to that section in your document. You can search/filter based on content of the heading. Most importantly, you can drag and drop headings in the TOC sidebar to rearrange your document. Reminds me of Scrivener and its Binder.
Composer goes against the accepted ethos of minimalistic text editors in its handling of preferences. Most of the competition strive, sometimes going to extraordinary lengths, to keep its preferences to a minimum.
The logic being that if you give writers things to tweak, they will tweak things and not write. Composer shows a lot more respect to writers and gives you a full set of preferences to tweak and set up your text editor the way you want. It is a window into two facets:
- Composer supports MultiMarkdown and the MultiMarkdown specification is more comprehensive than Markdown.
- Composer is designed for the "serious" writer. And various incantations of said "serious" writer. It supports MathJax, and syntax highlighting for code on the one hand and then also supports CriticMarkup, and Table of Contents (TOC) on the other. It is a full-featured writing environment and not just a sheet to write a blog post in. The technical writer can use it to write github readme files and the non-fiction science writer can use it to write journal articles. The blogger can write in it and the novelist can write in it. The target audience is broader for Composer than its immediate competition.
Theme, Font, Typewriter Scrolling Point
Composer supports themes and you have the ability to control fully the user experience of writing in it. Two things I would like to point out that I am fond of. Composer lets you use your own font. I appreciate that. I like writing in DuoSpace and having that accessible to me in my text editor makes me happy.
Composer gives you the ability to specify where exactly you want the typewriter scrolling to be situated on the page. Most applications stick it in the middle. Ulysses gives you a variable spot and Composer lets you choose the exact spot you are comfortable in. Makes it a pleasure to write in.
Typewriter Scrolling Point
Smart Pairs and Title Case Capitalization
The editing preference pane shows some nice features. Smart pairs lets you type the opening character of a pair and the application completes the pair. This is something I have in Sublime Text 3 but don't have in the minimalistic Markdown editors like iA Writer or Byword. Composer also lets me apply "Title Case" capitalization to headings automatically, giving me one less thing to worry about.
Smart Pairs and Title Case Capitalization
Adopt MultiMarkdown or Stick to Original Markdown
Composer lets you choose to stick to the Original Markdown specifications when you are writing or adopt the full suite of MultiMarkdown.
MultiMarkdown or Plain Old Markdown
Choose Your Syntax
You get to, in Composer, choose the nature of the syntax you want to use for bold, italic, list markers and specify the behavior of tabs. Lets you stick to the syntax you are used to and not dictate a syntax to you.
CriticMarkup was designed and developed by Gabe Weatherhead and Erik Hess with a lot of help.
CriticMarkup is a way for authors and editors to track changes to documents in plain text. As with Markdown, small groups of distinctive characters allow you to highlight insertions, deletions, substitutions and comments, all without the overhead of heavy, proprietary office suites.
Having it included in Composer makes it accessible and usable. It is a great system for tracking changes and incorporating editor comments.
Having the ability to use Marked 2 to preview the document is much appreciated. The built in preview is great but for those of us who use Marked 2, the integration with it is a favorite feature.
Marked and Synchronized Scrolling
Another feature which I am fond of is Synchronized Scrolling. Specially useful in long documents, it helps to be able to see the finished document exactly where I am editing.
You have the option of adding headers and footers when you are printing your document. Makes the final printout look professional and neat.
Footers and Headers
Auto Save and Versions Support
Composer auto-saves your documents. So, that is one less thing for you to be worried about.
Auto Save and Versions Support
Along with auto-save, Composer supports the built-in macOS feature of Versions. That gives you the ability to go back to any state of the document you prefer. This is a feature it shares with iA Writer.
This is the kind of feature which shows the developers intention with the product. TextExpander is an application which lets you type in little snippets which get converted into stock text you have set up. It is a product which is probably the market leader in its space. It has the added advantage of being cross platform. Supported on both macOS and iOS it makes it possible for you to have the same expansions on all your devices. Composer introduces its own implementation of text expansion. It is not as full-featured as TextExpander but it lets you share expansions between devices (when MultiMarkdown Composer comes out with its iOS iteration). Another feature which is unique to Composer.
I use basic expansions from Alfred and detailed or form-filling expansions from Keyboard Maestro. I am looking forward to building my own expansions in Composer to increase my productivity when I am using it.
This is another feature which distinguishes Composer from the rest of the competition. Custom Key Bindings and Macros gives you the ability to string multiple actions together into one keyboard command. Through tweaking the .json files, this feature lets you change the default keyboard commands built into the application. It also lets you add your own commands which are not built into the application. To get a basic idea of what is possible in Composer, check out this github repository.
History Mode Undo
Composer goes beyond the system undo feature giving you something it calls History Mode Undo. History Mode Undo allows you to move backwards and forwards even if you typed something new in the meantime. In other words, it keeps all changes to the document until the document itself is closed. This is a great feature when you are editing your document.
History Mode Undo
The pricing of Composer is explained here.
Basically, the free version is somewhat hobbled. The Standard version removes these constraints and the Pro version includes automatic text expansion, custom keyboard shortcuts and custom macros, the ability to share configuration files, History Mode Undo and the ability to limit depth in the TOC.
Areas of Improvement
Composer is a mature product which makes writing in MultiMarkdown a breeze. However, it still has some areas it can improve:
- Give us a menu choice and a keyboard command for footnote. Even a completion macro will suffice. (Update: Fletcher Penny, the developer addressed this with Key Binding To Insert Footnote at End of Text. Thank you.)
- The help files need to be updated. There are elements presented which are not there in the application any more. For instance, the Assistants Preferences.
- Built in the grammar checking that iA Writer uses.
- History Mode Undo needs to have an UI to be perfectly usable.
This is the best Markdown based text editor in the market. If you are looking for a full-featured tool to address your text editing needs and you live in Markdown, you need to consider this product.
If you are not particularly geeky and are happy to avoid excessive customization, the Standard edition should suffice. But if the idea of total customizability along with History Mode Undo strikes you as features which you want to explore the Pro edition is recommended.
The developer provided the author with a free Pro edition for efficient bug-hunting during the beta phase of this product.
Composer is recommended without reservations. It is the editor I live in.
macosxguru at the gmail thingie
November 1, 2017
Be Kind. Stop with the Leather Sleeves.
Leather Sleeve for 12‑inch MacBook - Saddle Brown - Apple
Why do we need to skin animals to make sleeves for our gizmos?
You want to create a great impression? Try carrying your MacBook in a case/sleeve which is not a byproduct of the killing of another living being. Why is that difficult? Thousands of years of evolution and this is the best we can do?
The world's best technology company and this barbaric behavior doesn't offend them?
We need to do better.
macosxguru at the gmail thingie