The Techie Scheky series offers tips and tactics for being more productive and creative through technology (especially with a Mac).
Note: Once you’re done here, take a moment and check out my recent 2×4 interview with Marked developer, Brett Terpstra. It’s well worth your time. You can find a link to the interview at the end of the post (I’m shady like that).
If you write for the web and we’ve spoken longer than five minutes, you’ve heard me go on about plain text and applications like Brett Terpstra’s nvALT. If that conversation goes on for ten minutes, we get into my undying love for Markdown. For the few people who have let me get to 15 minutes, you’ve likely heard me talk about Marked, Brett’s universal Markdown preview application which received a substantial update today with version 1.4.
What Is Marked?
On the left: A blog post draft in nvALT
On the right: A “live” preview of how this post will look on this site in Marked.
Marked is an application for Markdown that offers a “live” preview of whatever you are writing in any text editor. At its core, it lets you take any formatted text file that you’re working on and see what it’s going to look like on the web. Marked also does a bunch of geeky goodness, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to stick to the basics (’cause the basics are all I really know). For a full look at what Marked can do, be sure to check out the newly updated site. Regardless of what text editor you use, you can export your preview to HTML, print your preview, and save a copy of the preview to PDF… These are all great, Rich Text options, but where it’s really useful is allowing you to copy the HTML source directly to the clipboard.
And Why Should I Care?
At first, if I’m being honest, I mainly purchased Marked to support Brett. I’ve found tremendous benefits in several of the free tools he’s created including nvALT and his TextExpander tools and jumped at the opportunity to support just about anything the guy was doing. I wasn’t sure if I was going to find use for it, but happily I’ve found it to be a useful tool for Markdown newbies, frequent bloggers and avid geeks alike. While many of my text editors have Markdown previews built in, MarsEdit and nvALT are the only application that enable me to simultaneously write and see the impact of my edits. Marked allows you to have a “live” preview1 with any text editor.
But What Are The Benefits?
When I was first getting started with Markdown, this was invaluable. It helped me get up to speed a lot faster. At the time, I was working exclusively in nvALT and the preview left a lot to be desired, so Marked was a natural addition to my arsenal of apps. While many modern text editors do a great job of managing Markdown, several don’t. For those who just want to use something simple like TextEdit, Marked can handle the rest, offering preview and a way to print the formatted version or export the HTML. Those working on larger projects who use heavy-duty programs like Scrivener can also benefit from Marked. The latest version supports full document previews and live updates of Scrivener projects; something that was extremely complicated in previous editions is now as simple as dragging your Scrivener file onto Marked. Marked also has a table of contents that makes it easy to jump around in larger documents. Providing you have a custom CSS stylesheet that mimics your blog, Marked also allows you see exactly what your text will look like when posted to the web. There’s a lot more to the app than that– including the ease at which you can copy the HTML of your post (just hit Command-Shift- C)– but these are the key features.
Some Extra Marked Goodness
While Brett offers up several tools for getting more out of Marked, I’ve created a few of my own for nvALT and Byword that will help those of us who are not quite up to speed or comfortable with using scripts. As regular readers of this site well know, Keyboard Maestro is my standard way of hacking my Mac while avoiding things like scripts, terminal commands and other tactics that generally scare me. Brett offers up several options for speeding up the opening of files in Marked, but here are my Keyboard Maestro macros for quickly opening files in nvALT and Byword.
Note: You’re going to want to set these up in separate folders in Keyboard Maestro and set them to work exclusively in nvALT or Byword.
Marked is a tool that was made for those of us who write for the web. It is frequently updated and cared for by Brett and it makes our lives easier. If you’re looking to improve at Markdown, Marked is for you. If you want want a better way to turn your Markdown in HTML, Marked is for you. If you just want a better preview for your text editor of choice, Marked is for you. And you just want to support a hell of a developer who has created and continues to create multiple free and amazing tools for the Mac, Marked is for you. So stop by your local Mac App Store and grab yourself a copy.
Note: You can check out my interview with Brett here.
- I say “live” because you have to save or autosave has to kick in before the changes are reflected. [↩]