Markdown. It's become so engrained in my workflow that I barely think about the syntax now. This post is being written in Markdown, as does most other things I write. To support this markup I need tools that are not just Markdown compatible, but champions of Markdown. Marked 2 is one such tool.
Marked 2 is an OS X markdown viewer. If it sounds like Marked 2 only does one thing, you're wrong. There's more to this app than simply viewing a file.
Many Markdown viewers and editors give just the basics of viewing Markdown. The markup formatted as HTML with your choice of theme to make it all pretty to look at it. Marked 2 does this too, but it also does so much more.
We've all the seen the word count feature on lots of editors. In fact I would say that almost all editors have this feature included in them. Marked 2 includes a word count for your document, but it also other statistics:
- Character count
- Paragraph count
- Sentence count
- Reading time
- Average words per sentence
- Average syllables per work
- Reading ease
That's not all of them as well, there's more, but you get the idea. The great thing about the statistics is that on Marked 2 you can leave this pane on the app open and it will update the statistics as you type.
Probably not a good idea to be continually looking at this as you type, but periodically I like to see how much progress I've made and whether my editing has improved my document.
Excellent Keyword Analysis
You can highlight repeated keywords from your writing, which will highlight those keywords in pink. Once you have done this you can also click those keywords to darken the rest of the document so that you can see only the keyword you clicked and where it is repeated in your document.
During this view you can also zoom out from your document and get an overall view of your document with those keywords still highlighted.
I've been using this to replace poor choices of words and replace them with better choices. The keyword analysis can also be customised so that you can include words that you want to avoid when writing.
Lots of Preferences
My blog is a static website that is regenerated each time I deploy it. However before I publish a post, I use Marked 2 to preview my post to check everything is where it should be and that it reads well enough.
Octopress posts are markdown files themselves, but they contain a section of YAML at the start that contains details like the title of the post, the published date and any categories I want the post to be assigned to. Marked 2 has a preference for striping YAML from your document before it converts it for you so that you can view the content of your post without the messy distraction of YAML.
There are tons of other peferences as well covering window behaviour, choice of Markdown library, style settings and even settings to adjust how the document will print.
Use Your Favourite Editor
I'm a Sublime Text user for both writing code and blog posts. I've tried a few other editors, but with shortcut keys that I have memorised, it's hard to use anything else but Sublime Text. Marked 2 is great in that if I am viewing a file, it has a shortcut key that you can change to switch to your preferred text editor, where it will open up your document, ready for you to edit it.
On the flip side there is also a plugin for Sublime Text that will preview your document in Marked 2.
Marked 2 also supports a number of file types that you can export too. These are the most common document formats like PDF, DOC and ODT. As nice as Markdown is to write with, sending a Markdown document to someone who isn't familiar with the markup might struggle a bit. So it's nice to have the choice to export your document to a more friendly file type for everyone.
I've yet to try this myself but Marked 2 also includes support for the Leanpub publishing platform. lets you publish your document to Leanpub. This is great as it makes the journey to self-publication that little bit easier.
A Power Tool
Marked 2 isn't just a Markdown viewer, it's a Markdown viewer on steroids. A power tool. This is why I have Marked 2 running all day long on my second screen.
I've been continually tweaking the preferences as I go along to get the right environment for me to write in. It also doubles up as a document viewer for some lookup documents that I use on a daily basis.
Marked 2 offers so much more than just being a viewer and for me it's been money well spent on a product that gets used on a daily basis.
Friday January 24, 2014