Progress on my upcoming app

07/17/2011 18:50:57

I wanted to update you on the progress I’ve been making on my new MMD editing application for OS X. First, I am intentionally staying away from providing any target dates to avoid any issues relating to “vaporware”…. It will be ready when it’s ready.

That said, I’ve made a lot of progress. I’m trying to make the experience of editing a MMD document in this application as smooth as possible. I’ve been using it myself for editing MMD documents as I go along, and it really is becoming a replacement for TextMate for me, and in some ways is much better.

The other thing I want to address is that this app will not be open source. It started off that way, but as I put more and more work into making it useable — it makes more sense for this to be a paid application. Many of you have been telling me for years that you would gladly pay for an app that does what this one does. Now’s your chance… ;)

As I get things polished up, I will go back and update certain pieces back into the open-source github project. Specifically the updates to the PEG that I made to support MMD, and the subclass of the highlighting code that I worked on to get MMD highlighting enabled. This will allow other apps to make use of the highlighting (it works great in nvAlt, for example). But the custom editing features will not be included in the open source bit.

What this app does do (so far):

  • detect when you are in a list item, heading, metadata, etc so that hitting the return key does the right thing
  • applies the Markdown syntax for bold/emphasis as needed when you apply bold/italics using the standard Mac command keys/menu items
  • allows you to save your document as plain text, or as MultiMarkdown OPML
  • open either of those two formats, naturally
  • export directly to HTML, LaTeX, Flat OpenDocument (.fodt), … and… RTF
  • RTF exporting is subject to the same limitations that it always has been - basically MMD converts to HTML, and then uses Apple’s built-in conversion utility to output an RTF document. There is nothing I can do to improve on the results of this approach, but it’s there for those who want/need it.
  • automatically wrap selections in matched pairs of symbols when appropriate (e.g. quotes, parentheses, brackets.)
  • preview HTML for a document using a built-in view, or using the Marked app by Brett Terpstra
  • customizable style sheets, fonts
  • clean up tables, metadata, and blockquotes so they look nice onscreen, with monospaced or variable width fonts
  • supports opening and saving of UTF–8 documents

What remains to be done:

  • make some fixes to the highlighting parser
  • design an icon (suggestions welcome!)
  • write up some documentation
  • write up a web page
  • more beta testing
  • the big one — get MMD running without having to rely on glib2 so that it can be embedded in the application
  • get it all packaged up and submitted to the Mac App Store

There are other features I have in mind for the future, but I don’t want to promise things that don’t exist yet. You should make your decision as to whether to purchase based on whether it suits your needs as-is. Depending on how well received the app is, and what my own personal needs are, I have several different major feature upgrades I would like to implement in the future. But as is, it’s already the best editing experience available for MMD documents, IMHO…. ;)

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Comments

Like what I have seen so far. I have been (attempting) to run the last version on github.

I, like you, have been using TextMate to author most of my multimarkdown documents. From your feature list, the following don’t work for me:

  • lists don’t do the right thing when you hit return
  • paired characters (like ‘*’) don’t automatically pair

I would like to set the fonts to a monospace font

I would like to use soft tabs instead of hard tabs

I would like to set the tab spacing to a specific value

The menubar items seem to not be functional (Style, lists, etc)

But, I like what I have seen so far. I purchased Marked and it works well in my workflow. I would like to have TaskPaper, MMD, and Marked in one of my spaces for my normal activities and then I would use TextMate only for programming tasks, etc.

Looking forward to more progress on this project. Thanks so much for multimarkdown, it has changed my workflow significantly.

John,

The description above refers to the forthcoming paid app. It began as an open-source project, but I have decided to make it a more polished product, with more features, and make it available on the Mac App Store.

You can set the font to any font/size you desire.

Hard tabs are used so that appropriate elements align in whatever font/size you use. The same would not be true of soft tabs. This feature is limited to a few regions of the document - metadata and tables. These are the parts that don’t do well with soft tabs and variable width fonts. I can add an option to turn them off, but the soft tabs will have to be managed manually.

The other features refer to the unreleased paid version, they are not implemented in the open-source project.

I’ve made even more headway on the project since this update yesterday, so in addition to tweaking the parser a bit more, I need to get cranking on designing an icon, a web page, choosing a name (or sticking with the descriptive, but not so creative, MMD-Edit), and getting it packaged up to submit to Apple.

I’m glad you find MMD useful - it has certainly changed my writing workflow as well. Though I can’t say that it has saved me time, after accounting for the countless hours I’ve spent on it…. ;)

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