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MacDown: Open-source Markdown editor for OS X (uranusjr.com)
172 points by shortformblog on June 25, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 64 comments

Kinda surprised by the rise in markdown editors whose selling point is the live preview mode. I always felt that the best feature of markdown was that the raw text made it somewhat obvious how it should be rendered. If a preview mode is need I almost want to jump straight to a WYSIWYG editor

It's both a great way to learn markdown and be sure that your output is valid when having to write things in markdown. I can't tell you how many times I've realized I made a mistake when I've already pushed a readme to github and saw the rendered markdown there...

I wonder how feasible it would be to make a markdown sanity checker, to catch common errors, or if it would have too many false alarms. "Are you sure you wanted to make a paragraph with a ton of asterisks in it, or did you really want a list?" etc.

But really, when you make errors like that, it means the markup language isn't intuitive enough. I can never ever remember the proper order for links in Markdown, I hate it. I'd rather have a WYSIWYG-ish editor that both shows your markup (so you can edit it with the keyboard) but also styles bold, headers etc on the fly.

I think there are two kinds of users of Markdown. One is those who don't need or want WYSIWYG. The other still want WYSIWYG but don't want to shift+arrowing around or constantly leaving the keyboard to reach for the mouse. The number of Markdown editors with live preview probably says that the latter group is actually not small.

This is actually my take on things. I use Mou as a writer and I think the live preview thing helps me get an idea what the final result will be. Being able to set up the CSS based on a website is also useful for knowing how headlines will line up, for example.

I find Markdown best for writing in but looking at the processed output best for proofreading.

This. I've been making my living as a writer for ~7 years and have used Markdown as my dominant syntax for about 6.5 of those years. When I proofread, especially a long post, a preview is great.

Of course, for that, I usually just use Marked, but I'm never opposed to seeing more Markdown tools. Ever.

Agreed. We actually wrote a WYSIWYG editor on top of Markdown last year (https://github.com/wiredcraft/moleskin) but never ended up pushing it out: Markdown is simple as it is, syntax highlighting should be enough.

Call me lazy, but do you have a demo somewhere?

Thanks for that; I had forgotten about rawgit.

Somehow, in my head, I heard it as "Call Me Maybe".

You can `git clone git@github.com:Wiredcraft/Moleskin.git` and then open the example in `examples/angular/index.html`.

It is probably because live preview is considerably easier to implement than a good code editor like "Markdown completion".

I run a small website that uses markdown files to render content. Users just need to upload those files and the site is updated accordingly. The haroopad editor, mou, and others help them get visual feedback on what they are doing before submitting and refreshing the site.

what are you using? I'm looking at this now for my personal website. MDWiki looks interesting: http://dynalon.github.io/mdwiki/#!index.md

I use (Harpjs)[http://harpjs.com/], it's a nodejs application. It can act as a web server serving static HTML or it can do live rendering of JADE files, MARKDOWN files, LESS files, etc., and comes with templating and yelding mechanism.

Bonus: it can compile any "dynamic"* site it can process to complete static HTML.

* quote, because it's still based on flat files, not on any kind of database.


I find having a live preview really gives me a better feel for the flow of the document. I love Markdown for it's simplicity, but that doesn't mean I only ever want to see it rendered in plain text.

My biggest use for Markdown is writing my README.md files for my Github projects. And while I do care how it looks plain, I care more about how it looks to users who visit my project's Github page.

The one place I find that useful is for blog posts. I like having the ability to apply the blog's CSS to the markdown source before posting to make sure it looks right.

According to https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=zh-CN&tl=en&... and a quick Wolfram Alpha hit Mou's asking price is ~US$80,220

That's interesting; and way too much for such a rudimentary app -- which probably shouldn't even be a native mac app in the first place.

I wonder how he came up with that price.

It says in the translated description:

* first in Google for "markdown mac"

* domain name, logo, branding

* source code

* good reputation/press reviews

I don't think it's worth what he's asking (500,000 RMB, which is ~80,000 USD.)

I'm conceptually a fan, but then I noticed its effect on my actual CPU fan. Whatever this is doing for rendering the Markdown is not cheap -- a single keystroke in the editor pane on the sample document triggers 5+ seconds of max-CPU usage.

Typing causing loud fan noises from my laptop is not the most restful experience.


I've had the same experience with like all Markdown editors that have a preview function. It does indeed suck.

That's shameful. It's not like they're running LaTeX behind the scenes. I think it boils down to the implementation of the Markdown engine.

I've been using Erato and haven't had that problem. Might be worth a try...


I think I prefer Marked. It lets me bring my own editor (vim), and simply aut-updates when it detects the file has changed.

I use Marked and Sublime Text. Like peas and carrots.

Mou's live preview was neat for about a week, but eventually I just switched to Sublime Text with the MarkdownEditing, Markdown Preview, and Markdown TOC packages. Powerful stuff, and as-good-as-live preview in your browser.

https://sublime.wbond.net/packages/MarkdownEditing https://github.com/revolunet/sublimetext-markdown-preview http://dotcypress.github.io/GitHubMarkdownPreview/

Nice work!

What about Atom's markdown preview though? I found myself switching over to that from Mou.



I approve of the old school MacName.

This is awesome because I like Mou but it had some pretty big pain points:

- Large files caused it to slow unbearably/crash

- Scroll tracking was terrible (TexWorks is the only similar thing I've seen that does it well).

It looks like these aren't necessarily fixed in MacDown 0.1, but at least there's the opportunity to improve it with time.

Two solutions that people might also appreciate checking out: LightPaper Marked

Awesome! Just miss a file navigation pane and I can say bye bye to Lightpaper!

My only real issue with these is that there isn't an easy way to do a RegEX to remove certain types of formatting when copying the HTML. In an ideal world, I'd prefer to not have <p> tags, for instance, because most of the time, the place I'm pasting the content inserts them at any line break automatically. I realize this isn't always the case but it's one of those "frustrating" aspects that makes me continue to use an old-as-hell TextMate bundle a friend customized for me 5 years ago.

Awesome! Could use a better icon though :)

Any plans to implement the same shortcuts as Mou?

I actually asked the author about this, and at the very least, he plans to add the H1-H6 key commands that made me a fan of Mou:


I'm impressed with the early results of this. Considering that Mou hasn't been updated in months, I'm glad to see a successor in active development.

I've tried a lot of Markdown editors, and Mou was the only one in my experience that got the keyboard commands down pat.

PS: On the homepage "This is how it looks like:" can be just "This is how it looks:"

Not my app.

I’m open to new icons. I put the current one together myself and am certainly not proud of it. I suck at visual things.

The icon isnt bad. It fits.

Does anybody have any experience with this and LightPaper[0]? I'm curious if I should switch. There's so many markdown editors out there. How can I know that I'm using the best one for me? (joking) Markdown editors feel like it should be the example for the paradox of choice.

0 - http://clockworkengine.com/lightpaper-mac/

There are lots of open source editors coming of late.

[Haroopad](http://pad.haroopress.com/) is my favourite markdown editor of late. It is based on node-webkit and is also open source.

The main points I wish it could include is word completions similar to sublime and spelling corrections.

One problem with Markdown is that every Markdown app uses a different version of it.

I like Dillinger which is online. It has preview pane and links/saves with your Dropbox/Github/GoogleDrive or a local folder.


Dillinger is indeed nice, but I would like a native desktop program with the same functionality, as I'm not always connected to the internet.

Of course, I could just run it locally on my laptop, but for some reason I still prefer my web browser for web browsing, and native programs for other stuff.

Or if I could get the same functionality in Sublime Text 3 that'd be even better, but I don't know how to build a plugin to do that, or haven't found one that does.

Try Atom[0], start a new file or open a markdown file and toggle the preview pane.

I liked the feature so much that I made svg-preview: write SVG code on the left, live preview on the right.

[0]: https://github.com/atom/markdown-preview

[1]: https://github.com/atom/svg-preview

your svg-preview url return 404, isn't it https://github.com/lloeki/svg-preview ?

indeed, thanks. sorry for the stupid s/markdown/svg/

Looks interesting, will give it a try. Also nice project is https://stackedit.io/.

How do these mac markdown editors compare to in-browser editors like https://stackedit.io/ ?

Another Markdown editor for OS X!

Anyone besides me ever noticed how there are many options for markdown editors for Macs, but really few (decent) ones for Windows or Linux?

Well, historically I think it was because Markdown was created by a Mac user. And most of the early Markdown hackers were Mac users.

Obv. Markdown is now much broader, but I still think the market of people who actively care about a Markdown-based editor for desktop or mobile are more likely to be using a Mac and iOS than Windows/Linux/Android.

If you think about it, however, that's a huge market opportunity for Markdown devs on those platforms.

This might be useful, but I'd prefer it if there was a way to turn the live preview off. I don't need a new preview with every letter I type.

I like this, but I'm still waiting for something that has this kind of live preview but also has a folder/file project sidebar like Ulysses 3.

LightPaper (free, not open source) has a project sidebar: http://cl.ly/WGSv


First I'm ever seeing this. This looks awesome, thank you. I also love Texts: http://texts.io/

I also like LightPaper, but it using file tabs at the same time as the project pane is kind of weird.

This is great. I like IA Writer but it lacks some features for me. I tried Atom and it is good too. This app feels like a one stop shop for me.

MacDown requires OSX 10.8 or later.

Which one should be running anyway, seeing that 10.9 is the current version for a year, and we're on to 10.10 soon.

OS X releases are like minor Linux distro updates -- not in they have limited changes, but in that you don't want to fall far behind the latest version.

It's a different approach than Windows, where people can still run XP with no problem -- not that you couldn't run 10.4 or 10.3 (and some people do), but the Mac world changes and software is updated to reflect that (takes advantage of new APIs, integration, changes in style etc).

In Windows there is software available in new versions in 2014, even MS made, that still uses stuff like file open dialogs from 1998.

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