If you use any of the many content management or blogging platforms that are powered by the markdown, you may eventually find yourself wishing for a more pleasurable editing environment. Sure, markdown is pretty easy to learn, but the more complex a document gets, the higher the cognitive load of translating mentally between markdown and the formatted result.
Many markdown editors don’t change the actual editing experience and instead use side-by-side live preview to show what’s going on; others try to combine formatting and WYSIWYG into one ugly mess. Typora’s approach is different. It follows the “distraction-free” writing philosophy and largely gets out of your way – while offering powerful functionality when needed.
Documents look as if they’re fully WYSIWYG, but markdown magically transforms as you type:
For some markup, entering that part of the text with your cursor reveals the underlying markup:
There are lots of neat little tricks that make the editor pleasurable to use. For example, let’s say you have a link in your clipboard. If you select a piece of text and press the link shortcut (on my system, Ctrl+K), the URL copied into your clipboard is added. While this may initially be confusing, as you anticipate this behavior, you can adjust your workflow and get a small productivity benefit:
The editor supports markup extensions such as math and tables. The table editor is fully WYSIWYG and very easy to use (tables in any markup language are a pain). You may have to turn off some of these features if they interfere with regular writing. The $ symbol was giving me trouble until I disabled math – having this enabled by default may not be a good idea.
As of this writing, Typora is still in beta, and while it is, it’s a free download for Linux, OS X, and Windows. Since I generally prefer free/open source software, I might not stick with it in the long run, but the thoughtful design choices are definitely impressive. If non-free software doesn’t bother you and you’re looking for a markdown editor, I recommend giving it a spin!