MarsEdit, Red Sweater Software’s macOS blog editor, received a major update today with new features and a UI refresh.
Among the long list of updates to version 4 of MarsEdit are several modifications to the app’s editor. Common formatting options like bold, italics, and underlining are easily accessed from a formatting bar. A new typewriter view option keeps text centered in the middle of the editor as you type. If you edit in rich text mode, MarsEdit also lets users resize images by direct manipulation, and the app’s previewer has added MultiMarkdown support.
For WordPress users, MarsEdit has added support for featured images in posts, post formats, and author editing. Modern macOS features like versions for local drafts, auto-saving, and application sandboxing for security have been incorporated too. For link bloggers, MarsEdit has a Safari extension that sends highlighted text to the app as a block quote along with the article title and URL.
Today The Sweet Setup launched a new ‘Learn Ulysses’ course that’s designed to help users get the most out of the powerful writing app.
The meat of Learn Ulysses is its seven video guides that walk through key aspects of the app in detail. Videos cover the following topics:
- Getting to Know Ulysses
- Writing Tips and Tricks
- The Ulysses Toolbar
- Main Features
- iPhone & iPad Apps
- Backup & Restore
- Powerful Search, Find, & Replace
Each video can be either streamed or downloaded, and they are all accompanied by full transcripts. The videos I’ve seen are of the highest quality; the team at The Sweet Setup has handled well the difficult task of going deep into Ulysses while still making everything easy to understand.
In addition to the seven main videos, Learn Ulysses includes bonus content such as a quick reference cheat sheet of additional features and keyboard shortcuts for the app. My personal favorite bonus is the included series of setup interviews, where different writers share exactly how they use Ulysses in their daily workflows. Some of these are in video form, while others are written. I always love hearing how others use a powerful app, as it helps me find new practices to adopt.
The regular price for Learn Ulysses is $29, but during launch week it’s available at 20% off for a discounted rate of $23. You can purchase the course here.
Today, Red Sweater Software’s Daniel Jalkut released a public beta of his macOS blog publishing app, MarsEdit. According to Jalkut,
It’s been over 7 years since MarsEdit 3 was released. Typically I would like to maintain a schedule of releasing major upgrades every two to three years. This time, a variety of unexpected challenges led to a longer and longer delay.
The good news? MarsEdit 4 is finally shaping up. I plan to release the update later this year.
Because the update contains many new features that my patient users have been waiting to get their hands on, I want to give folks the option of trying it out early.
MarsEdit 4 includes a long list of features including:
- Visual formatting bar for applying common formatting options;
- Typewriter scrolling mode;
- Support for MultiMarkdown; and
- WordPress-specific features like faster refresh times and Featured Image, Post Format, and Per-Post Author support.
If you want to to try the beta yourself, there’s a link in the Red Sweater blog post. The beta is free to use by anyone who has a license for MarsEdit 3 that was purchased directly from MarsEdit on the web. Also, anyone who buys a copy of MarsEdit 3 now will receive a free upgrade to MarsEdit 4 when it is released later this year.
Research is an inherently messy, non-linear process. In a traditional note-taking app, text, links, and images quickly wind up a disorganized mess, and moving items around with cut and paste is cumbersome. Milanote is a free-form note-taking web app designed to bring order to the chaos.
I've been a fan of Terminology by Agile Tortoise since it debuted in 2010. There are a lot of dictionary apps on the App Store, but most are bloated messes that foist multimedia experiences and games on me when all I want is a definition or synonym. Terminology has alway been just about words. With today's update, the app has been redesigned from the ground up with new features that make it a must-have research tool for anyone who writes.
Today, Manton Reece launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for Micro.blog, a platform for independent microblogging and a related book on the subject. Micro.blog has a lot in common with social networks like Twitter, such as replies and favorites, but with an important difference. Instead of locking users into a proprietary system owned by someone else, the content created by individuals is owned and controlled by them. As part of the Micro.blog service, Reece is also building publishing tools with Markdown support, including a native iPhone app, to help people get started with microblogging.
At the core of Micro.blog is an critical design decision – the separation of publishing from social networks. That choice ensures that the microblog content you create remains yours to publish at [your-name].micro.blog or anywhere else you can host a website. At the same time, Micro.blog doesn’t ignore existing social networks. Microblog posts can be cross-posted to other services, which has the potential to give users the best of both worlds – control over their content and access to the broad audiences of services like Twitter.
In addition to Micro.blog, Reece is writing a book on independent microblogging that makes the case for the format and provides practical advice on how to start a microblog. Backers of Reece’s campaign can choose from a variety of rewards that include Reece’s book, early access to the Micro.blog service, free months of the Micro.blog service, and stickers.
New social networks have come and gone over the years, but Reece’s focus on decentralizing microblog publishing from social networks is unique. I had a chance to speak with Manton about Micro.blog at WWDC and know how much time and thought has gone into this project. The campaign is off to a great start and I’m excited to try it soon.
TableFlip, by indie developer Christian Tietze, does something no other Mac app I know of does – it lets you create and edit Markdown tables in a familiar spreadsheet-like interface. Table syntax is part of Fletcher Penny’s MultiMarkdown extension of John Gruber’s Markdown format for displaying HTML in easily readable plain text. MultiMarkdown’s syntax for tables is handy for short tables, but can get unwieldy and complex with larger tables. TableFlip fixes that by letting you flip between a plain text document and a fully-rendered and editable version of your table.
There’s a reason why there have been so many different notebook-style apps on iOS and the Mac over the years. Media-rich research projects and reference materials benefit from the familiar metaphor of a notebook as a way to organize everything in one place. The difficulty, though, is balancing organizational functionality with editing tools. Good organizational tools like search, sorting, and sync are a must, but apps that go too deep into editing features can quickly become a bloated mess. Go too light, and the editing features aren’t of much use.
Notebooks by Alfons Schmid is an iOS and Mac notebook app that has excellent organizational tools on iOS and the Mac. With solid search, sorting and sync options, your notebooks and documents are always readily available to you, which makes it a great research tool, especially on iOS. Notebooks' editing tools are a different story. Notebooks for iOS strikes a nice balance with excellent text and PDF editing tools. The more recently released Mac version of Notebooks, however, doesn’t go much beyond text editing, which is a little disappointing.
Whether Notebooks is right for you will depend on the extent to which you want to edit files stored in it and, if so, whether iOS or OS X is the dominant platform you use. People who work on iOS will love the power of Notebooks; on the Mac, Notebooks is closer to a viewer app and may not be sufficient to meet your needs.
I think in outlines. I suppose that’s because it's what I was trained to do. You see, when I was in law school, we would make elaborate outlines of the subjects we studied to prepare for exams. So over time, I developed a knack for breaking down topics into their component ideas and imposing a hierarchy on them. Nowadays, I still make outlines, but they are usually simple ones that I create while taking notes or brainstorming ideas. I discovered OutlineEdit from Robin Schnaidt recently, and it immediately stuck with me. The speed with which I can get ideas out of my head, into an outline, and then move them around has made it a go-to tool when I’m working on my Mac.