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Posts tagged with "writing"

MarkdownNote Brings Live Markdown Previews to OS X

Folks who enjoy writing in Markdown have already installed Brett Terpstra's fantastic Marked for Mac, a nifty utility to generate HTML previews from Markdown documents written in any OS X application. You can read our review of version 1.2 here. Those who prefer a more cohesive writing environment with plain text/Markdown and HTML output living in the same application, however, might want to take a look at MarkdownNote, a new entry in the Markdown editing space that's got some interesting features.

MarkdownNote has been available for quite some time on the iPad, and it's now jumped over to the Mac with a feature set that takes advantage of Lion's full-screen, Resume and Versions. MarkdownNote's distinctive functionality is "live preview", a split interface that lets you write in plain text with Markdown on the left, and have another panel immediately format Markdown as HTML on the right. This happens as-you-type, and with Markdown's **strong** and *italic* formatting options you'll only have to properly close such "tags" for the preview to refresh accordingly. MarkdownNote has a menu on the bottom left to resize the panels for Markdown and Live Preview, with options to set the editor and preview at 50, 70 or 100 percent.

MarkdownNote can save .txt files (everyone loves plain text, right?) , it lets you pick your own font and it's got some further options to play with in the Preferences. When you're done writing, you can copy the HTML and paste it somewhere else as usual. I've found MarkdownNote to be extremely useful in full-screen mode, as the split interface makes for a great alternative to having large borders around your text -- with this app, you don't waste space and you've got a live-updating preview at the same time.

MarkdownNote and Marked

Best of all, MarkdownNote works great with Brett's Marked, although you may wonder why would anyone use Marked when MarkdownNote has got a live preview. I think MarkdownNote is great at letting you write and quickly keep an eye on the correct visual output, but I still prefer Marked for editing -- after I've written a long piece, I fire up Marked, choose my favorite style, see how many words I've typed, and I go through my Markdown. I love this combination of writing tools.

At $3.99 on the Mac App Store, MarkdownNote gives you an easy way to write in Markdown and instantly see how the words you typed will look like, and use keyboard shortcuts to facilitate the process of Markdown writing itself. MarkdownNote works really well in combination with Lion's full-screen mode and Marked -- if you're a Markdown nerd, you should give this a try.

Customize Your Mac’s “Paste and Match Style”

On the Mac, the paste function associated with the CMD + V keyboard shortcut has a well-known side effect: if you're writing a document and you paste something from your clipboard, the document's style won't be automatically matched. Quite possibly a "feature" per Apple's design choice, since I switched to the Mac I've always been annoyed by such "remember every style" behavior, and from the reaction I've seen on Twitter, it turns out quite a few people dislike when they end up with weird styles in their outlines or email messages as well.

But, you might argue, there is a way to paste and match style, and that's represented by the ⌥⇧⌘V shortcut...which requires four fingers to execute, and it's not always implemented in the same way in third party apps. Chrome, for instance, uses ⇧⌘V, and many other apps follow a similar trend to modify the default shortcut for Paste and Match Style.

In the past few days, I've come across some interesting solutions to unify Paste and Match Style with a simpler keyboard shortcut, and make it the default paste action on OS X if you never want to paste with "styles". This can be particularly handy for writers, who often prefer a plain text environment or a styled one that's, however, consistent throughout a document. Read more

Daedalus Touch for iPad

I've started to shy away from the bulk of text editors that hit my inbox since few bring something different to the table. There's only so many ways you can rewrite a text editor, and while I'd love to cover everything the ones I really want to showcase have to offer something truly unique for me to sit down and crank out a review in TextMate. It's terribly difficult to find something that stands out, but I think those disappointed with the App Store's current offering may find something of interest here. Daedalus Touch for the iPad is different in part because of how it allows you manipulate documents in a hybrid stack & coverflow style that takes advantage of gestures, and not lists, to organize your ideas. There are no lists or hierarchy of folders, but rather stacks of sheets that contain your text. Of course it has Dropbox and TextExpander support (a must nowadays), which means you don't have an excuse not to check Daedalus past the break.

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Byword: Distraction-less Writing App For Mac

Byword, a new app by Metaclassy, aims at bringing a minimal, focused writing environment to the Mac. The OS X platform isn't new to this kind of applications that want to take the distraction away from your writing experience: Ommwriter for Mac tried to provide an uncluttered background for your text that, eventually, turned into a distracting experience for many due to the use of sounds and animations; the usual Text Edit, on the other hand, still maintains a strong hold on users with its minimal UI and powerful text editing features. When combined with apps like Think, Text Edit can become the ultimate writing app for the Mac.

Byword, however, wants to step up the game with a really minimal interface made of no toolbars, and just text on a light background. You can run the app in its own window, but Byword is meant for distraction-less fullscreen mode that will feel just right on Lion, but works well on Snow Leopard as well. When you're writing in Byword, nothing else is on screen. Just you and the cursor. Read more

The Future Of Writing On Tablets

The Future Of Writing On Tablets

iPad is often described as a “lean-back” device, which is wrong. It’s a lean-back device, if you are in a lean-back situation where you read. But it also works as a lean-forward device. It works for writing if it’s optimized.

The lean-forward/lean-back change is hard on the iPad, but if you have a program that helps you just do one certain task, iPad can be useful. It’s that single-mode atmosphere that makes the iPad fun and strange at the same time.

Reading works well, but writing works well too if it’s just input and not editing.

The first wave of iPad apps was mostly made of bigger iPhone apps. The second wave saw Flipboard, Writer and OmniFocus coming to our tablets. The third wave is going to be real fun.


IA Writer Now iOS 4.2-ready

I've been waiting for this update: when IA Writer first came out, I couldn't use it. I was already running iOS 4.2 beta on my iPad, and the app had a few bugs with the new operating system. The focus mode wasn't working (and that feature is possibly the most important one in the app), custom keys didn't match.

With the latest 1.0.2 that showed up a few minutes ago in iTunes, the app is finally ready for the elusive OS. Subfolders and auto-sync aren't included yet, but they're coming soon.

Finally, I can use IA Writer. Go get it, as it seems totally worth it.

Noteshelf 2.1: Dropbox Integration, Finer Ink, New Notebooks

From my Noteshelf review, about a month ago:

What totally convinced me to pick Noteshelf as my go-to app for handwritten notes, though, is wrist protection. When people write, they usually rest their wrist on paper – that’s natural and necessary to have a correct writing position. Well gentlemen, unlike all the other apps available for iPad, Noteshelf has an option to not detect your wrist as an active touch on the screen. Welcome to natural and human writing on a tablet.

As for features I’d like to see besides the upcoming Evernote and Dropbox integration and a template creator, it’d be nice to be able to pinch and zoom on pages, especially in landscape mode. I also don’t like the fact that you can’t select multiple pages when exporting them (email and iTunes are supported).

Noteshelf was already a great iPad app, now it's even better. With the latest 2.1 update available in iTunes now, the developers added the possibility to export notes as images pr .PDF documents to Evernote and Dropbox, a feature many users have been asking since the first version of the app. Uploading to these services is simple and accessible through a popover menu in the top toolbar. You can also select and export multiple pages via email, or just email a whole notebook. Speaking of which, there are new notebook themes such as music notes and baseball scores. Read more

Noteshelf: A Handwriting App for iPad I Can Actually Use

I remember the iPad launch day. I also remember the grand opening of the iPad App Store - actually, we were the first ones to take a sneak peek inside it. Between the excitement and the geek dreams of a new device that would change the face of computing as we knew it forever, we didn't really pay attention to the apps that were being submitted for approval. Six months later, it's very easy to spot one of the best selling categories in the iPad App Store: handwriting apps. Note taking applications that let you write on the iPad's big screen using your fingers or, if you have one (I do), a stylus. Penultimate was one of the first notable apps to sell zillions of copies.

See, I'm not usually huge on these apps. I'm faster with a keyboard, I never really got myself into a situation where taking notes manually was necessary, most of these apps don't come with the proper exporting capabilities I need, namely Dropbox, Mail or Evernote. While they're pretty to look at and cool to show off to your friends, I didn't really find much value in them besides using them every once in a while to draw some random mockups.

So how on earth do I find Noteshelf worth a look? Read more

Notational Velocity with Fullscren Mode, Horizontal Layout, Menubar Icon

Notational Velocity is one of my favorites apps for the Mac: it's a minimal and focused writing application that enables you to entirely navigate between notes using the keyboard, it integrates with Simplenote and can store its plain text files anywhere on your computer - Dropbox folder included. It autosaves notes so that you don't have to worry about losing anything. Also, you just have to press Enter to create a new note. It's simple and powerful at the same time. It's free and open source.

Its open-source nature gave birth to a plethora of "forks", alternative versions of the software with custom modifications and features. Maybe you remember Steven Frank's excellent Markdown fork. Today's mod comes from Elastic Threads: it's the Notational Velocity you're used to, only with horizontal layout and fullscreen mode enabled. Read more