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.