Are you sick of reading reviews for the same old Markdown text editor under different titles? Me too. Don’t worry, Mou is genuinely different.
Join us as we take a look at how Mou takes a unique approach to Markdown editing and how it may be exactly what you’ve been looking for.
In Search of Perfection
I was a latecomer to the Markdown craze. This wasn’t so much the fault of the syntax, which I quite enjoy, so much as it was the shortage of tools available to infuse Markdown into my own personal workflow.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a million Markdown text editors, but none of them have really grabbed my attention and held it. No matter what I tried, I usually wound up back in WriteRoom’s wonderful fullscreen mode writing in plain old HTML.
When I thought about what I really wanted in a markdown editor, I found that I had a bit of a plurality regarding the situation. I like my plain text editing, yet I want to see the end result as well. For this reason, I really liked some of the online editors like those from Jon Combe and Ctrlshift.net because they have this awesome daul window interface but I’m not a fan of doing all my work in the browser where an unexpected crash can kill hours of hard work.
Long story short, I had very specific requirements for a Markdown app and literally nothing on the market seemed to fit. That is until Jeffrey Way of NetTuts+ fame recommended that I try Mou. Finally, I had found what I was looking for.
Mou bills itself as “the Markdown editor for web developers”, and though I still use it for writing, this emphasis might be exactly why I like it so much.
As you can see in the screenshot above, Mou has that nice splitscreen view that I liked so much in the web-based editors. All of the editing is done in the left panel and the right panel automatically updates to show you the ultimate output. To someone that isn’t familiar with web writing, this may seem like a seriously screwed up and roundabout way to write, but I simply love it.
The layout is fully flexible, meaning the two panels can be adjusted by dragging the little dividing line. There are also some quick menu shortcuts for setting up specific ratios and even an option for a stacked view.
Markdown and Text Editing
If you’re familiar with the Markdown syntax, you’ll be happy to know that Mou offers full support with the awesome addition of syntax highlighting. You’re free to use HTML, simple text, Markdown or any combination of the three as you write. It’s a completely flexible working environment that allows you to work the way you want.
The menu provides a few quick shortcuts for common actions like inserting images and links, bolding or emphasizing, and even selecting an entire word or line. Another especially helpful addition is the auto-complete function that pops up when you hit escape. It’s nice that this feature isn’t intrusive, it’s only there when you want it to be.
Once you’re done with your work you can either copy the contents to your clipboard as HTML or export it as an HTML document with optional CSS.
Full Screen and Themes
Fullscreen writing fans rejoice, Mou has a Lion style fullscreen mode that helps you focus entirely on the task at hand. For the design conscious users there’s also a theme system that allows you to customize your experience. You can choose from the handful of slick built-in themes or create your own via a simple text document where you enter custom colors.
Worth a Download?
You can already tell by now that I love this app. I’ve been thinking for quite a while that I’d like to use Markdown more but none of the products really resonated with me, that is until I tried Mou.
This app is the perfect combination of simple and powerful, structured and flexible. I wrote this very article in Mou and have indeed performed all of my other work this week in the app. What better endorsement can I give than to say that I’m using it over the dozen other text editing apps on my Mac?
That being said, keep in mind that Mou hasn’t yet hit 1.0. It’s always tricky to review a beta app as if it were a finished product, because it’s admittedly not. However, I don’t really have any major problems. Mou seems very polished and is absolutely worth downloading and using in your work today.
To sum up, if you’ve tried several Markdown editors but still felt that they were coming up short in the areas that mattered most, it’s time to check out Mou.
The split screen workflow is exactly what myself and others have been looking for in a native Mac solution and there isn’t another app that implements this idea in a more solid and functional manner.
Give it a shot and let us know what you think in the comments below.