I avoid Markdown editors for a few reasons. One, is they sort of work different from a traditional office program or a document editor. Now, you know what Markdown is, if not, let me explain in simple terms. Markdown is a famous markup language that uses easy syntax to create rich documents with formatting and styling. It is fairly easy to use. You can write Markdown documents in plain text editors using syntax’s, and save it as a “.md” file and you can read it with a Markdown viewer. Nowadays, any document reader can view Markdown files and rich document types.
I do love Markdown though. It is one of the easiest things you can learn. Only a handful of syntax for basic formatting that are really short and easy to write and read. In fact it is the goal of Markdown. To be able to read the code just like output, without complex syntax obstructing view. Markdown is also very easy to integrate because it is easy to script. A single Perl script can convert a Markdown file to a readable webpage.
This is why forums, comment sections and blogs use a Markdown editor built in. It is still being widely used. So I really like it. On the desktop also, I can use a text editor, a normal one and write Markdown. No heavy office editor or nothing. With specialized editors, you can convert markdown to web pages, PDF, or even DOCX. Now as I mentioned before, I didn’t have the courage to continue with it. On the other hand, people around my community are starting to use Markdown more and more.
A member of a Linux user group asked if it is possible to write Markdown in WordPress. Thankfully there is. I actually prefer offline / external editors for writing articles, and I thought I should try Markdown editors. Unsurprisingly Markdown was dang easy to learn. Not only easy to memories, but also easy to write. Smaller syntax’s that you can use to format your texts any way. Including table and block-quotes.
To make headings, you use hashes. An example :
# This will be heading one
## This will be heading two
### And this will be heading three
And all the way to heading six. For paragraphs, you do not have to add syntax. Normal text will turn into paragraphs on the output. This is the same for line Breaks. Normally in HTML you have to either add </br> for each line or use “<span style=”white-space: pre-line”>@Model.CommentText</span>” method. But in Markdown, you do not have to add any syntax for line breaks. I really like it. Using “**word**” will make “word” bold. You have to use a single asterisks for making it italic e.g “_word_”.
Block-quotes are easily doable by adding “>” to each line you want to block-quote. You can also nest them using “>>”. You can use other syntax along with block-quote to format text inside a block-quote. Adding headings, lists and text formatting is possible using normal syntax’s inside block-quotes. To make ordered lists, you can just number dot space and text.
1. Like this
2. Like this too
1. This is indented list (using tab)
2. This is another one
To make unordered lists, you can just add a “-” before text. Like
– List 1
– List 2
– Sub 1
– Sub 2
Now tables are quite fun in Markdown. You use combination of “|” and “—-” to separate cells, rows, columns and headings. Each text between “|” and “|” is a cell. Example :
| Heading | Heading |
| —— | —— |
| Cell | Cell |
| Cell | Cell |
It will output as :
You can find
Typora is a Markdown editor that does not look like one. It looks like one of those focus writing apps with basic functionality. But surprisingly it is feature rich. Now there are two kinds of editors. One is WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors and another kind is a markdown compiler that shows preview on one side. With the second kind, you have to use Syntax to write Markdown which is very easy as I already described. But you may also prefer the first kind.
Typora has both of those modes which you can click to change from source view to WYSIWYG editor. With WYSIWYG mode, you do not even have to write syntax’s to format texts. You write texts, right click to select formatting options and it will format according to options you chose. With source mode, you can write Markdown as you would in text editors. Typora have some features that are quite nice.
Paragraphs you work with will be highlighted when enabled Focus Mode. This helps focusing on the line you are writing on rather than jumping and reading through all the other lines. I have not yet felt the need to try this feature, and I think it is not for my kind of work. But it is helpful for many.
I find Typewriter mode more nicer. It feels nice when the page moves slowly and you always stay on the middle of the screen when writing. You only have to keep your eye at one angle and never look up or down. It is handy for sure.
The user interface of Typora is very minimal. The layout is pretty basic yet has all the things you need for writing up documents. There is no bar at the top or in the main view. You have to select and right click, or just right click and choose a style to apply for the current line. You have everything you need on the right click menu. You can add images, tables and format texts, add headings etc from the right click menu.
On the left side, there is a panel which shows an outline, like Google Docs. And you also have Files, which indicates files you worked with in the same directory. On the bottom, you will find a “Source” view icon which allows you to see source code, and also write and edit source code. On the right, a small word counter shows how many words you have written. It shows more information when clicked.
I think Typora has the easiest steps to add tables, images and other stuff. You can also add Tables by defining how many rows and columns you have. Adding rows and columns after adding a table is easy with the table option menu.
If you want to resize the table by rows and columns, you can do so with the resize table option. If you want to align text on right, left and center, you can do it easily with align options at the top of the table. And you can also move any columns to any position without disturbing its contents. Pretty much the same, maybe better than traditional office editors. But the failings are also obvious, it is Markdown after all. Table styles are fairly limited and column sizes are defined by text or content length. Controlling the size of each cell and background color is not possible in Markdown. You cannot apply Table formats like you can do in normal office editors. But the thing is, it is not for those highly complex stuff.
Adding Table Of Contents is just easy as right click and insert. You can insert Table Of Content anytime and continue editing the document and the Table of Content will update itself after each alteration automatically. Like a table, adding images is very easy. You can use an image URL that will fetch your image from the internet, or you can use a local image file for embedding. I suggest using images from online via CDN or public storage, because embedding images won’t link them with the document. But local images will be linked to the document if you export it in PDF which I recommend.
Utilizing Pandoc, Typora can export markdown documents as various other formats such as RTF, DOCX, ODF, MediaWiki and LaTeX. You have to install Pandoc first to be able to use the export functionality. Exporting to HTML and PDF works without Pandoc. Pandoc is already an excellent document converter that works without it, but is a CLI application. It takes a Markdown file and runs some extra steps to make sure the converted document is the same as the Markdown document. This isn’t possible with Pandoc only.
You can change the themes which changes look, color and font. Choose from included themes, or you can install additional themes from their theme gallery. Themes are just css files. So if you know a bit of basic web design, you can make your theme for it. Overall the collection is rich and the included themes are nice too.
For those who run static sites and have to work with Markdown. A program like Typora can be the center of the workflow. Good combination of features, ease of use and minimalism, it provides a good environment for writing documents. Even if someone who does not know much about Markdown and its syntax’s can use it to make Markdown documents without problem. With the presence of many export options and a good visual editor, you can even use it as a lightweight, basic office writer app.
It really helps basic users who want ease. So it can encourage people to work with Markdown. When you work with static sites, writing each of the pages and content manually is tough. With a good Markdown editor, things can get a bit easier. And you can use it to update your blog in one click. Although the process is a bit complex for me. Even if you want to create PDFs with images and texts and formatting, I suggest using Typora instead of complex programs since it is lightweight.
Typora is sort of an art piece for a Markdown editor. It is simple and nice looking. I have come across this after someone suggested it to me and I hopped in for a test. Although the creators focus more on Mac, it still runs the same across all platforms including Linux. It is very minimal and simple yet feature rich. Right click to add basic text formatting, images, tables, TOC and more, view the sources, or write with Markdown syntax in the source view. It has tons of export options including DOCX. PDF is included out of the box while you need Pandoc for other formats. It is quite a nice piece of software and I recommend it.
Pandoc on the Manjaro repository may throw an error regarding library issues or missing. So you should install Pandoc-bin (prebuilt binary) from AUR to counter this issue. To enable AUR, go to Pamac preference > AUR > Enable AUR support.