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markdown

I write in Markdown all the time, the easy-to-use writing syntax conceived of by John Gruber (of Daring Fireball fame). The nice thing about the syntax is that it doesn’t require any one specific app, so web writers can use it with whatever text editor they feel like — including default editors like TextEdit for Mac, which is much more powerful than most of us realize, I think.

That hasn’t stopped the flow of Markdown editors from arriving for Mac, though. Recently, I stumbled upon Lightpaper, which will be familiar to anybody who uses Android. Lightpaper Pro is well known on the Google Play Store, and I even reviewed it on Android.AppStorm. I went so far as to include it amongst the most noteworthy Markdown-equipped Android apps. The real question is: can lightning strike twice for developer Clockwork Engine with the Lightpaper Mac app? Read on to find out if this app is worth exploring, even in its beta state. (more…)

Simple file sharing services are great for sharing all types of files — from code snippets to short notes to ready-to-publish PDFs — but most of the time, they’re only used for sharing images. That’s a shame, though. Most of us often need to share text that’s longer than a tweet but that’d make no sense to put into a blog post, and simple file sharing apps are great for that.

Except, they still make it rather difficult to share text. You have to write it in an app, save it to a file, the drag it to your sharing tool of choice. Plus, there’s no way to edit your text once it’s shared, without deleting the original share, editing your original text on your Mac, then re-uploading and re-sharing the text.

Sharing text should be far simpler, which is why Levi Nunnink from the Droplr team just built the brand-new MarkDrop app. It makes sharing text via Droplr — and editing text you’ve already shared — as simple as saving a document in iCloud. It’s brilliant.

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There’s notebook apps to store all your text snippets, ideas, notes, outlines, and anything else you can think of. They’re designed to make it easy to save notes, and easy to search through and find the note you need later. There’s plain writing apps, that strip away all the distractions and help you focus on your writing. And then there’s the export tools page layout apps that help you publish your finished work.

And then, there’s the new Ulysses III 1.1. Ulysses III reinvented what it meant to be a plain-text writing app when it was released this spring, and the new v1.1 update adds advanced search and improves external file and export support enough that it’s a notebook, focused writing, and publishing app rolled into one. It’s the one app modern writers need.

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Minimalist writing apps have taken the App Store by storm, from the extreme of iA Writer’s entire lack of settings to full-featured writing environments like Ulysses III. It’s great to write without worrying on your final formatting, focusing instead on your actual words. Eventually, though, you’ll need to export your work to publish it on the web or in print. Your writing app likely includes a number of basic export tools, but for serious writers that want the best export options, Brett Terpstra’s Marked app is the best tool in town.

Today, it gets even better, with the just-released Marked 2. It’ll preview anything from a draft blog post in MarsEdit to a whole folder of Markdown documents, show you your overused phrases that’d be best cut out of your document, and give you the best exports with MultiMarkdown 4.2 support and the option to save in DOCX, paginated PDF, and much more.

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Here at Mac.Appstorm, we love finding apps that can simplify our work — especially when it comes to Markdown writing apps that make it easier to craft our articles. We’ve looked at 35 unique Markdown apps for the Mac — a series of editors, previewers, and other categories where Markdown can be applied. Adding to the list is 9Muses’ Erato ($5.99). It’s a simple and minimalistic app designed for editing and viewing your Markdown documents side-by-side, following the split-screen concept adopted by apps like Mou and Markdown Pro.

Besides its beautiful and simple design, what sets Erato apart is how it offers additional support for Github-flavoured Markdown syntax and YAML front matter. But while these may be its unique selling points, Erato as a Markdown editor isn’t as powerful as Mou or other more robust editors. And after testing the app, I realised that it still has to iron out a few bugs, particularly with how it converts Markdown to HTML.

Let me walk you through the app to show you what I mean. (more…)

I’ll never forget the first time I installed Mathematica in college. I was excited by the demos, and wanted to see how much it could help me take my calculus knowledge further — and take the drudgery out of math. Turns out, it was far more complicated to use than I ever anticipated, even more so than my trusty TI-89.

Couldn’t CAS — computer algebra systems — be a bit less complex and more accessible to everyone who doesn’t have time to take a whole class on using them? Computers were designed originally to solve complex math, but normal calculators, spreadsheets, and CAS systems have remained too basic on the one end and too complex on the other to change the way most of us feel about math.

It’s more than understandable that we’d tend to be skeptical when a new app claims to make math simpler for everything from engineering to basic budgets at the same time — but that’s exactly what Calca claims. It’s a markdown text editor fused with a CAS; can it possibly be the answer to the frustrations of math?

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You’ve likely used word processors like Word, TextEdit, and Pages, as well as plain-text writing apps like iA Writer and Byword. If you’re a serious writer, you’ve likely used or at least looked at advanced writing apps like Scrivener or the original Ulysses.

But you’ve never seen anything like Ulysses III. It’s a totally new take on an advanced writing app, bringing the best of Markdown-focused plain text editors together with a multi-document management system that makes sense. Throw in HUDs that make Markdown formatting easier to use than rich editing in Word, and you’ve got one serious writing app. One that must be seen to be believed.

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When I first discovered Markdown and shortly thereafter MultiMarkdown, I instantly fell in love. Almost overnight writing workflows and tools were transfigured. They became more streamlined and ubiquitous.

Therefore, when news surfaced that Fletcher Penny was readying the release of MultiMarkdown Composer 2, I was antsy to get my hands on it. The wait was a long one… but well worth it!
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Writing for the web has always been burdened by the need to format content in HTML. It isn’t enough to just write and publish content—you need to capture the reader’s attention as well.

You can’t simply write a blog post or a web page and slap it onto the site. Headers, bolding, emphasis, bullet lists, and numbering are necessary to hold down and guide your readers all the way to the last sentence. The process can be quite tedious, which is why the birth of Markdown is a huge breath of fresh air for content creators of all experience levels.

But Markdown isn’t just for those who work online. It’s a simple syntax that makes formatting and writing in plain text easier for everyone. With these writing apps, you’ll have an easier time putting your thoughts down on screen, whether you’re writing a note for yourself or a Markdown formatted file for publishing online.
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Markdown is kind of a big deal right now. It’s one of the most popular ways to turn plain text into formatted text, and it’s showing up everywhere from blogging tools to note apps to comments online. The App Store is filled with text editors built around Markdown, each priding itself on having a minimalist interface that makes it easy to write in plain text. It’s hard to know the best one to use.

We’ve covered more then a few markdown apps in the past, and the list of Markdown apps is constantly growing. In this stage of the game, app authors need to create an app that stands above the pack to be competitive. Is Markdown Pro one of those, or just another editor in the pack? (more…)

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