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Classeur.io: Re-enjoy writing, with Markdown (classeur.io)
255 points by orschiro on Oct 27, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 93 comments

The thing that would make all these markdown editors a killer app for me is an easy way to link between documents. Something like vimwiki, where you can surround a word or group of words with "[[" "]]" and it turns that word into a [[link]]. These apps are great for editing a single document, but fall down when you want to create a notebook or set of interlinked notes.

Well org mode in emacs allows you to do that. I expect anyone reading Hackernews is probably better served by something like org mode in emacs running on some server that is remotely accessible. Then you can use something like tramp to connect to it and edit all your notes in one place. Alternatively just put them under version control and you are able to edit them offline.

I really don't see how an app that implements maybe 1% of all useful features a good editor has could compete for the attention of technical users.

Can you imagine collaborating with someone who doesn't know how to use Org-mode?

Org mode works on text files that are formatted in a specific way, the basic syntax is not more or less complicated than Markdown, so you can in principle use it from any editor you want.

The way I usually collaborate on things like papers / technical documentation is to assign specific sections, parts of the exposition to different people. I think it is rarely productive to edit the same part of the document at the same time, but I might be wrong or simply haven't found a use case.

Admittedly so far I have used Latex for serious projects, there you simply create a master skeleton file and then people work on different sections individually. The choice of editor then doesn't matter. Something similar could be done with org mode.

I've only used org mode only for personal note taking, todo lists and drafting documentation, but I would imagine it would scale fairly well to small teams using it.

You claimed that ANYONE on Hacker News would be better served by using org-mode through tramp on a remote server.

If instead you had only said that YOU enjoy doing that, there would be nothing to disagree with.

Generally, I think it's a pretty good principle to refrain from making blanket statements about how other peoples' projects are unnecessary or whatever.

He said "probably better served"..

I'm currently using vimwiki with md syntax, which I like better than org mode. I'm pretty happy with it, although sometimes I would like to drop in an inline image or have md rendered in nice fonts in a native app.

You can try out brainstorm: github.com/Azeirah/brainstorm, Tags can be used to semantically link notes, or if you want to link to another note, you can just use []() markdown link syntax, each note has its own url.

You can try the demo at sandstorm.io (install brainstorm as an app)

Or you can try a slightly older version here: http://brainstorm-notes.meteor.com/board/Home

Is that similar to what you're looking for?

Looks pretty cool, but I had trouble getting the links to work just using a note title. I'm also looking for something native that will operate on a folder full of text files (for easy backup, syncing, and versioning).

Yeah that functionality isn't implemented yet, right now it only works with direct links to notes using []()..

Someday I'll build the perfect note-taking application, quote me on that!

Have you seen http://zim-wiki.org/ ?

That's actually why we've created http://enterprisewiki.co

Hey, that looks really nice. I'm looking for something native that operates on a folder full of text files, but that is a really great site.

I worked with a friend of mine to write a documentation generator for assembly code. It lets you write your docs with markdown, and has "[[syscall]]" syntax to link to another syscall from your docs. Example:



I have markdown link autocompleting in this project: https://github.com/zencephalon/zencephalon-mt

Unfortunately I haven't extracted it for public consumption yet, but feel free to take a shot.

You could use GitHub. You can link to other documents in the repository using relative paths, there's an editor that's decent, and you get versioning for free too (assuming it's a public repository.)

Gitbook https://www.gitbook.com/ allows relative links between markdown files. if foo.md links to bar.md with [Bar](bar.md) then Gitbook handles the conversion to the appropriate HTML file name when it generates the book. Yes it's intended for "books" but I find it pretty damn useful for anything that would benefit from a table of contents, and the ability to search...

GitBook also have conrefs (content reference): http://help.gitbook.com/format/conrefs.html

Check out https://wikizen.click. It's a simple markdown Wiki persisted in your Dropbox.

Why not vimwiki?

That's what I'm using now. Sometimes it would be nice to be able to drop in an inline image though.

https://stackedit.io/ is my markdown editor of choice. You can sync your documents with Google Drive, Dropbox, publish to GitHub. Really not easy to beat, in my opinion. However, there's no live collaboration feature currently in Stackedit so I'm interested to see what Classeur has to offer in this respect. (Now I see that Stackedit and Classeur are related projects, apparently both authored by https://github.com/benweet).

they're from the same dev [1]. dunno how they stack up against each other.

[1] https://twitter.com/benweet

I really like that you can write html tags inline. Do you know which "flavor" or extension does this?

original Markdown?

I'd not seen that before. Really like how it looks, and how easy it is to use.

It appears stackEdit has a link where they advertise the classeur beta so I think they'll be moving to that platform. They appear very similar

I spent about an hour looking for a note taking app today. The problem with most markdown editors is that the note taker rarely reads the note in absentia. I mean, I read my notes as I write them and edit them, but more often than not, I am changing them as I read or consult them.

The mou/macdown/classeur approach is to have a preview that can be toggled or visible in split screen mode. Conversely, notes.app on Mac works really well and you can write and read notes on the same "space" but it doesn't support markdown.

Maybe I am an edgecase, but I would like to write notes in markdown and have them render line by line[0] so that I have one document and not an editor and a display. Almost wrote one myself but the opportunity cost of spending weeks making it (if I could even deliver) would likely not offset the bit of frustration I get using another editor.

If this exists, I want it bad.

[0] or like 3 lines at a time or whatever.

I'd recommend FoldingText http://www.foldingtext.com/ Like Typora it only displays the markdown while your cursor is in the portion of text with the markdown tags. Otherwise it's the final rendered version. plus you can style it however you want and add your own JavaScript plugins.

Maybe Typora[0]?

[0]: http://typora.io/

Everyone has a note taking app that fits their style. This seems as close as it can be for me. Love it. Also, I like how you cited it[0].

[0] in such a short comment.

Nice. You can even set the default MD handler as Typora and use it like a wiki editor with relative links.

http://texts.io/ is my recommnedation. It's WYSIWYM -- write Markdown, view real formatted text. And it uses Pandoc under the hood, so it's exporting tools are awesome; and worst case, kick it out to XeTex and render it exactly how you want

This was quite good. I don't know much about Pandoc but it is mentioned quite a bit ITT. I tried texts app() out and it is a strong offering.

Great product and does seem to have an awesome workflow, being quite close to what I want. It is a bit pricey ($29.99) for a note taking app but if it fulfilled your use case, it could be worth it for the boost in your productivity.

> It is a bit pricey ($29.99) for a note taking app

I agree, it is a bit expensive, but I felt it was well worth it; I now use it for literally all of my document processing, technical documentation, personal writing, proposals, literally everything. Because it runs through Pandoc, I can produce amazingly professional looking documents for everything. It's one of my favourite applications by far!

Take a look at vim-pandoc


It uses conceal to show bold/italic text and plain markdown on your editing line

I'm also a believer in in-place formatting rather than 2-pane. Ever since i saw it in [Qute][] (no longer developed), and emacs auctex preview-mode (TiddlyWiki also deserves some credit).

Editorially did this well and was well-recieved but for some reason people are not really filling the void. I'm especially surprised it's not more popular on mobile where 2 panes waste real estate and whole-screen toggling is jarring. The only mobile editor with in-place formatting I know is Writer & [Writer Plus][].

[Qute]: http://www.inkcode.net/qute [Writer Plus]: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.easy4u.writ...



I'm working on https://mathdown.net [https://github.com/cben/mathdown] which does in-place formatting. It's comparable to Stackedit or Classeur in that it's simply "syntax highlighting", e.g. headings are big and emphasis is italic.

- The formatting chars (#, * etc) are still visible, just a bit de-emphasized. I know many people prefer them to disappear except near the cursor. That's trickier to implement with good UX, and not planned soon (PRs welcome of course).

- There is no inline image preview (yet). Nor tables, diagrams, embedded videos... Even links are not (yet) clickable.

+ There is nice in-place LaTeX math rendering (slighly buggy but very usable). This is my biggest unique feature [https://github.com/cben/CodeMirror-MathJax]. Comparable to Overleaf.com's "rich text" mode.

+ I'm doing "soft indent" [https://www.mathdown.net/?doc=demo-indentwrap]. This is a really low-hanging way to make one-long-line-per-paragraph usable, which IMHO is essential for in-place styling.

+ Leading indentation (and list bullets/numbers/quotation) is monospaced to help align stuff.

If anybody's building their own, I'm using and strongly recommend CodeMirror. It makes mixed fonts - things like bigger headings - really trivial and supports arbitrary embedded "widgets". @benweet pulled off polished in-place formatting in StackEdit (and on top of contenteditable but that's way harder...

Dear fellow hackers,

I've been looking for an application setup with what I could write my personal (research) journal using vim with markdown annotation and with embedded multimedia (screencaptures, mostly). It would be great to have a possibility to attach files to notes, too.

Of course I would like the setup to be open source. Does anyone have similar needs and perhaps solutions for them? I tried atom with vim-bindings-plugin and markdown-preview but somehow the UI just didn't cut it for me when compared to a native vim.

Please, share your setup if you have anything that resembles my need!

It's early days yet but this is exactly what I'm trying to achieve with stash[0], plus the ability to browse notebooks over HTTP and run/embed dynamic queries into documents. It's essentially a specification of a directory structure for plain-text files and a bunch of tools for doing bulk manipulation. I began migrating all of my notes from Evernote a few months ago and it seems to be handling it well.

[0] https://github.com/no-silo/stash-design, https://github.com/no-silo/stash-server

I use mainly two tools: The vim notes plugin (https://github.com/xolox/vim-notes) and zim wiki (http://zim-wiki.org).

vim notes is very good at quickly jotting down and bringing up things from vim; much better than vim-wiki, in my experience. While it can export to html, since the main interface is vim it is not that nice for embedding images and such. Therefore I use vim notes mostly for stuff related to coding, which is naturally text-friendly.

For research notes and results, I've been using zim-wiki. While it has a GUI, it is a text-based format. Whenever I feel the need for vim shortcuts I just open the page in an external editor (vim), which is even supported in the GUI. The markup is not markdown but something similar to mediawiki, which is annoying but not a deal breaker. It can embed images, tables and latex equations (though the UI for this could be better; instead of a directly using $$ in the markup, there's a dialog). Since you mention screenshots, it also has a "embed screenshot" plugin which I've been using a lot more than I thought I would. It's also open source and has what seems like a healthy community.

If Evernote integrated Markdown into its mobile, web, and native editors, I would be much closer to an ideal. It's early, but Classeur shows potential to fill this gap.

I tried http://Marxi.co, the so-called "missing Markdown editor for Evernote," but had enough syncing issues during the brief ten-day trial to put me off purchasing a subscription.

There's also a Sublime plugin that offers two-way Markdown conversion into Evernote, but I only have Sublime as a native app, not on mobile or web. https://github.com/timlockridge/SublimeEvernote

Perhaps with Evernote's renewed focus on core product, they'll take a look at improving the experience of the text editor.

Hey Anton, are you attached to using markdown? A nice alternative, and the one I use for my own notes, is Emacs + org-mode. If you're a vim guy, you can load up evil-mode to get the vim keybindings. Org-mode is a really nice piece of software, my three favorite features are:

1. It's really easy to move things around. Moving a section up or down, re-ordering lists, etc. is done with very simple keyboard shortcuts.

2. You can embed source code in your document and you can also execute it and have the result inserted inside the document. This is great if you are describing a piece of code and you want to give examples.

3. Editing tables in org-mode is very easy and very nice.

I'm using tiddlywiki [1] and I absolutely love it. You can host it where you want (owncloud works fine), and it has basically everything you just described.

I edit mainly using the web interface, but you can also edit the "tiddlers" (each note) using any text editor. The note has it's metadata at the beginning of the file.

I think I'm only using a very small % of TW's capabilities, but it feels like a very powerful tool.

1: http://tiddlywiki.com/

I used dokuwiki quite similarly for this in the past and it was okay - I just wrote using browser and embedded images with it, too. Maybe I could edit the "source" using vim and have the wiki-pages using a browser be the reader-mode for my notes. Thanks

Yea, I used to use Wiki on a Stick on a flash drive. When I had to migrate away, I ended up going to Evernote rather than Tiddlywiki. But it's a great tool.

Was and still am a big evernote fan. I just switched away from it towards tiddlywiki to be in full control of my data.

I'm looking for the same thing as you.

On a mac, VooDooPad fits the bill but it is not open source and its future looks murky. If it were open source with an active community of users I think I would use it.

This has kept me on vimwiki with .md extensions so that vim will at least do syntax highlighting for markdown. You can easily link to local multimedia files, but they don't display inline. As a bonus, a diary entry for the day is just <leader>w<leader>w away.


If you were willing to trade markdown for asciidoc (same goal, different execution), then a combination of asciidoc in vim simultaneously with the asciidoc previewed in google chrome could be a good approximation of what you want. Embedded images work quite well because you can easily specify the final width you want the image to take, on the page... for example. Finally, you can easily produce a pdf with 'a2x'.




Also, this page is interesting:


> write my ... journal using vim with markdown annotation and with embedded multimedia (screencaptures, mostly).

Are you asking for a WYSIWIG editor (one that shows you markdown and/or rendered html and pictures), or are you asking for a workflow where you dump some images in a folder and edit post.md, and link to images with markdown tags?

I don't (yet) actually need/use a blog - but just to see what I might be able to recommend others that ask, I had a look for stuff that works with github pages, and found Jekyll Now: https://github.com/barryclark/jekyll-now

I wouldn't say it's a great work-flow (there are gnarly bits with Jekyll, with using git, with hosting on github, with tweaking the themes...) -- but overall the out-of-box experience is good. It's not a WYSIWYG-happy-blog type situation, but it is a sane-defaults, not that-hard-if-you're prepared to install some things -- and crucially, it can run in a local "serve" mode that watches the filesystem for changes and gives a near-live preview:

   Local Development
   gem install github-pages
   # Clone down your fork
   git clone git@github.com:<uid>/<uid>.github.io.git
   # Serve the site and watch for markup/sass changes
   jekyll serve
I should note that "jekyll serve" is part of standard jekyll; so you don't have to use "Jekyll Now" by any means.

[edit: I should probably add that what I've actually been using myself lately is just IPython (for solving assignments in basic calculus and statistics). Sadly doesn't work with the "It's all text!"-plugin/external editor for vimperator as it doesn't use "plain" input-fields -- so if you do "real" writing, rather than just some code (and graphs generated from said code), you'll probably be better off with something more focused on the Markdown part, like Jekyll]

Thank you for your reply, I should've been more detailed in my question. I think I would prefer a setup where I edit using vim and the rendered html is instantaneously rendered next to the vim window. However, I think that embedding images from clipboard is tricky using vim, at least to my knowledge. So I don't really know how to setup an efficient workflow regarding that.

I think I will have to take a look at that jekyll now next. :)

> However, I think that embedding images from clipboard is tricky using vim, at least to my knowledge.

Yes. In general you'd want either a full URL or a local, relative URL, in order to source images from "the clipboard" to vim. Perhaps there are some plug-ins that allow drag-n-drop? There certainly must be some plug-ins for vim that could watch a folder(tree) and auto-complete (so you could have your blog.git/images-folder, and paste an image there, then link that via an image-tag in markdown, and have vim auto-/omni-complete the name, so you could easily link to images/filename-of-pasted-image.jpg).

Generally, most mature markdown-blogging solutions will have some form of live-relaod -- so all you need is to trigger a write to disk in order to see an update in the browser. Not quite as-you-type -- but probably good enough.

if you're on the mac then you can use the Marked 2 App. It's a live preview of your markdown file that updates every time you save the file. I use it with Vim regularly. There's even a vim plugin to open the current buffer in it https://github.com/itspriddle/vim-marked

I write my own research journal using pandoc[0] and a simple mkfile[1]. My requirements are a bit different from yours, though. I don't need embeded multimedia, but I rather use a lot of Unicode characters for mathematics.

Maybe you could use write markdown and convert to HTML5 using Pandoc? Your multimedia could be included with some embedded HTML. If you automate the compilation process suitably, you can have your journal open in your browser while writing in Vim, and see the result almost real-time.

[0] http://pandoc.org/

[1] http://doc.cat-v.org/plan_9/4th_edition/papers/mk

There are some sweet extensions for Atom + pandoc, notably https://atom.io/packages/preview-inline and https://atom.io/packages/markdown-preview-plus (convert with pandoc, fast & smooth preview update via DOM diffing/patching). See https://discuss.atom.io/t/using-atom-for-academic-writing/19... for more goodies.

With non-Atom (e.g. Vim), https://github.com/yyjhao/markmon does fast DOM-diffing preview (I think it inspired markdown-preview-plus).

Different direction: instead of multimedia inside markdown, consider something that mixes markdown, multimedia and other fragments. I'm specifically thinking IPython or Sage notebook. Not sure it's a win in itself but there are many other benefits for research notes...

Finally, for those comfortable with latex writing, Overleaf in rich text mode is a quite good middle road — not markdown but less noise than raw latex: https://www.overleaf.com/blog/81-having-a-hard-time-convinci... (overleaf also has git access for offline)

For math in markdown, https://github.com/cben/mathdown/wiki/math-in-markdown lists all tools I'm aware off.


> I don't need embedded multimedia, but I rather use a lot of Unicode characters for mathematics.

Do you mean you use unicode as poor man's math support, or that you do render via pandoc/mathjax/etc but prefer to have $β^2$ rather than $\beta^2$ in the source? I'm curious, does in-place whole-formula rendering solve your need or do you actually care about unicode symbols in source?

And how would you ideally want to type them? "\be" offering autocompletion to β? http://kasperpeulen.github.io/PressAndHold/ ?

Yeah, I had something like that in mind. I even thought using latex (with Texmaker) but haven't quite managed to pull all the pieces together yet.

Pandoc can include LaTeX math, and render it in HTML in a few different ways.

I use https://github.com/tpope/vim-markdown to write markdown files. And use http://fletcherpenney.net/multimarkdown/ to 'compile' the markdown file. To check the rendered output I have a key mapping to compile the current markdown file and open the generated html file.

I think gollum could fit your use case.


I like it, waiting for the Linux application...

Hope to see more of this as application and not as web apps, I really don't like this new web apps trend.

> I really don't like this new web apps trend.

I think the desktop apps will be probably also web apps... (built with nw.js or electron).

Only the simpler or the worse ones -- trading speed, utility, connection to the OS, etc for ease of development.

meh, if it's a single developer, asking native apps for every platform on a donation ware doesn't seem fair to me.

No, I mean in the general case of web apps replacing desktop apps. I'm not convinced Atom for example will ever overcome its pain points that are a result of the technology it uses (breaking down on larger files, slowness, GC pauses etc).

Of course for smaller shops, donation or freeware etc, it's fine.

And for apps like Slack, which are glorified web pages.

It's more like for using the skills they know than ease of development. Web is more common this days that developers fear the working directly with an OS...

Years ago developers used to code websites on languages intended for the OS (tools to make that easier was there) and today we see the opposite.

Nice interface, latex support, code block support, doesn't lock up your data, uses pandoc rather than reinventing the wheel. That's how it's supposed to be done.

I'm not sure I'm the target audience (would be hard to justify spending $5/month given my current workflow) but it would be an excellent way to collaborate. If it could handle really large documents, including organizing them into sections, this would be an outstanding tool for commenting on a student's dissertation (in particular, using a tablet).

Due to missing support of `Markdown` in Blogger, I have been waiting for such tool for a long time. Thanks to the team.

I will use if for some time and see if it can replace my evernote too.

The UI looks and works nice. I specifically like the the markdown quick reference in the bottom right corner.

http://www.dillinger.io/ is much alike, minus several integrations, collaboration and discussion.

Curious to get opinions on what you guys consider to be the best OSX app for note-taking in relation to day-to-day dev work, e.g. storing and retrieving documentation, code samples/snippets (with insets, formatting, and colored syntax, so that it's clearly separated from non-code text), etc... Doesn't need to support markdown.

I love Quiver, but syncing it across multiple computers through iCloud is not reliable, otherwise it would practically be perfect.

StackEdit is great, but I don't like how it's tied to a browser. I also don't like being forced to store everything on an external server. I'm willing to make an exception for iCloud because it's so damn convenient -- it's the only form of cloud storage that I use for personal documents.

From reading this thread, I see that Classeur is from the same creator, which is great news :)

Unfortunately, there's no desktop client yet, so it'd be nice to use something else until then.

I currently store markdown (general insensitive documentation that doesn't need to be kept local) and Ruby/Objective-C files (for snippets/examples) on iCloud and read/edit/run them with Textmate.

I usually use just the plain OSX Notes app. It has added more features that I care for and has some trouble _removing_ styles from stuff, but it works everywhere. If you paste in coloured code then it will keep the colours.

I'd love to use Vesper, but no Mac client makes it a no go.

Try nvalt for plain text notes.

The editor is great, but the UX flow between creation, upload to Wordpress, save, export is very confusing. I have not been able to figure out how the connect to Wordpress works in the first place.

The top menu fails to work when in full-screen browser mode (on chrome) because the "you've gone fullscreen" popup blocks access to the top menu.

Deleting words (Ctrl-Backspace) does not seem to work.

Yep. Seems like a really basic feature to lack.

This is very slick.

Not to nitpick, but did anyone else find that some (important) keyboard shortcuts were missing? Ctrl/Alt-Backspace in particular didn't work for me. Though I guess vim doesn't have support for that either.

Wow, have been using computers since age 6 and been a professional dev for 15 years, never even heard of ctrl+backspace :D Thanks. (I tend to use ctrl+shift+left/right to highlight, then delete. That tends to always work)

Hey. It respects my line-breaks without making me jump through hoops.

Non-standard markdown but a welcome decision.

Numbered lists with gaps and line breaks are still impossible sadly. I'll see if my other personal pet gripes against Markdown are handled any differently when I remember what they are.

Admittedly Word and many other wysiwyg editors are sometimes less than helpful in this area but at least it's possible without resorting to tricks such as using double-dots to defeat the auto-formatting.

> It respects my line-breaks without making me jump through hoops.

And that's why I don't like it. I want to be able to wrap the source without forcing the output to wrap too. Totally a preference thing. Wish there was a way to change it according to your preference.

My favorite one is LightPaper (http://www.ashokgelal.com/lightpaper-for-mac/). With multitabs and a folder navigator, among others, I can keep and edit related documents together. I wish it had a vi mode but other than that it's perfect.

I use and love Ulysses

From your comment I just tried it out and immediately fell in love, it's exactly what I've been looking for. Thank you.

Does Ulysses have any collaboration integrations? I just glanced at their site and couldn't find anything mentioning collaborative editing.

It looks cool, but it seems it's for Mac and iPad only…

When it comes to markdown I think I stick to Haroopad. It's cross platform and has pretty much all I need -> http://pad.haroopress.com/

Just used the interface... wow I love it. I need something exactly like this.

I would like to have an easy way to link between pages, and if possible specific sections of pages. Also a tag system would be nice.

I use Byword, works for me, but if I weren't already very comfortable using that, I'd probably try using this. Nice.

The pricing applies just to the web version or it has something to do with the desktop version too?

Are there examples or documentation? What does it look like if you publish to Github?

This is a very slick app and a very nice landing page. Well done and good luck!

I have a box at terminal.com with vim. Costs way less.

Yes! Like dillinger (and others) but with proper inline html support (that is: I can have documents with data tables without having to inline images for it).

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