Question

What apps should a Markdown Office Suite include?

A bit back there was a discussion about what apps a modern office suite should include, but after researching the history behind markdown, here's a twist on that.

If you were going to only use Markdown for every bit of your work, what apps would your Markdown Office suite include? What are your favorite tools that let you do more than just write copy in Markdown?

Mentioned
#Writing #Office Suite #Notes #Deckset #Notion #Coda #Roam Research
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justin's avatar
almost 2 years ago

Coda supports markdown, but also gives you a powerful set of building blocks if you want to extend your doc beyond simple notes.

The option to stay simple or go deep makes me turn to Coda every time.

3 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @justin )
almost 2 years ago

@justin if you write in Markdown in Coda, then copy the text and paste it in another app, does it retain the Markdown formatting? In Notion, you have to export the text to get the original Markdown back out, which is always a bit annoying.

1 point
maguay's avatar
almost 2 years ago

Here are some of my favorite Markdown apps that together could almost make an Office suite:

  • iA Writer and Ulysses for writing. iA Writer is more standard plain txt, closer to writing in something like Sublime Text, albeit with a beautifully minimal interface, custom typeface, Markdown styling as you type, grammar check tools, and more. Ulysses takes the concept a bit further, hiding the Markdown formatting and giving you more library features to resurface old notes, organize files, combine multiple notes, and export documents with customizable PDF templates. iA Writer's the Markdown Notepad; Ulysses's the Markdown Word.
  • Roam Research for outlining, note taking, projects, and more. While Markdown isn't the core feature of Roam—its wiki features, embedded notes sections, and more are what have made it popular—you still use Markdown to format text in Roam. And in that plain text driven interface, you could outline ideas, combine ideas from various notes into one place, and even build kanban boards, diagrams, and more in a plain text wiki.
  • Notion for collaboration. While it's not a pure plain text only, Markdown app—you paste in Markdown text and it turns it into rich text, which you can then re-export out as Markdown text—it's halfway there, and one of the more powerful apps where you can write in Markdown and do more with your text.
  • Deckset for presentations. You write an outline, with Markdown headers separating each section, then open it in Deckset and it gets turned automagically into a presentation. It may be the fastest way to turn lecture notes into slides.
  • Tableflip for spreadsheets and tables. It's not a spreadsheet app per se, but it does let you turn plain text lists into a spreadsheet-style table, or make a table visually and turn it into a MultiMarkdown formatted text table, or turn either into a .csv file to edit further in a real spreadsheet app.
  • Mailmate for email. While it's not the email app I use most these days, it's an interesting email app that's a bit more like the classic email apps where it all started. It's plain text by default with Markdown formatting—and since Markdown was inspired by email, Mailmate makes your emails a bit more like the way they would have been if you'd worried about email formatting in the '90's.
2 points
mister-chad's avatar
@mister-chad (replying to @maguay )
almost 2 years ago

I like your choices, although I find it limiting when there are so many OS-specific apps. Since markdown is so flexible and supposed to be tech agnostic, I think there should be a focus on apps that are consistent across ecosystems. This is a practical challenge for me because I have a Windows laptop, teach on Mac computers, have an iPad tablet, and an Android phone. Consistency is lacking everywhere.

I love working in markdown and am excited these days with using Obsidian for organizing all my notes. It has similar features to Roam, except that it uses markdown files that are saved locally. Backlinks, graphs, etc. are all in there. Easily customized using css. There's a feature that lets you build presentations in markdown. They have a new Publish feature that lets you build your own internally linked website. If they could figure out how to do email and tasks/calendar, then it would be nearly perfect for me. Of course it still doesn't work on iPad or Android, which is a frustration for me. Since it is just markdown files there are workarounds and hacks. Would love that consistent user experience across all devices.

I really dig Notion for ease of use and ability to build your own system. I just find it to run slowly and I've lost information too many times. There's a danger in using closed proprietary systems which is why I started using markdown.

3 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @mister-chad )
almost 2 years ago

@mister-chad Great point—nearly every app I listed is Mac or Mac + iOS only. I don't know if it's that Markdown came from Gruber, an Apple-focused blogger, or if there's something in the culture of macOS developers that made them focus more on plain text, but there definitely are more Markdown-focused apps for the Mac.

Obsidian is an awesome bit of software—interesting to see how they've put their own twist on the wiki and markdown writing concept.

Do you have any other Windows-focused (or cross-platform tools, or web apps) that are Markdown-powered that you love?

1 point
qthdh's avatar
almost 2 years ago

For anyone looking for a great, minimalist app to work on plain text/markdown files, i.e. without any subscription, just folder and files on your hard disk, Typora is fantastic.
The way they render markdown in real time is elegant and simple, and it’s available on Mac, Windows and Linux.

I use Notion and Roam Research daily, but somehow I still find myself using Typora from time to time.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @qthdh )
almost 2 years ago

@qthdh I find it impossible to move entirely away from writing in plain text apps that save files locally, even if I then copy and paste what I've written into Notion or Roam.

Typora does look nice, especially if you want the markdown characters hidden away while you write!

1 point
optemization's avatar
@optemization (via Twitter)
almost 2 years ago

Wunderpresentation for slides

1 point
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