Announcing the Textbundle format (and Ulysses 3 giveaway)

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I’ve been working with the Soulmen, creators of Ulysses, to create a new standard for the transport of plain text between applications. It’s called Textbundle, and I’m really excited about the possibilities here. I hope to see as many developers as possible jump on board.

The Textbundle format is very simple. A folder containing a plain text file, a JSON data file, and an assets sub-folder. An app, such as Ulysses, can write a Textbundle out and pass it to Marked, and all of the necessary components are automatically included. Images, additional text files, and any metadata needed are all there and safe from sandboxing restrictions.

Sandboxing is the primary motivation, and Textbundle solves the major issue of referencing external files in Markdown.

The bundles that pass between Marked 2 and Ulysses 3 are labeled as “transient” in the JSON data. This means that Ulysses is free to overwrite the file, and Marked knows that the data can be rewritten at any time. Non-transient files, though, can be used by multiple writing applications. This means that data such as revision history, writing statistics, and all kinds of things we haven’t imagined yet can be stored with a file that can move across folders, entire machines, and even platforms.

When a PC user opens a Textbundle, they have full access to the original Markdown file. They can edit it and send the folder back, and on a Mac it once again appears as a single “Textbundle” file.

There are many, many exciting possibilities for the future here. Every app that implements support can have a namespaced section in the data file to write whatever information is helpful to them. Other apps can access their information and act on it appropriately, too.

To celebrate the Textbundle release, I’m giving away three copies of Ulysses 3. The Soulmen are also giving away 10 copies of Marked on their blog. Textbundle is supported in both now, so previews between the two apps are fluid and free of sandboxing restrictions. Hooray!

Sign up below for a chance at one of three copies of Ulysses 3 (value $49.99 US). Winners will be drawn on Monday, September 1st at 3pm.

Sorry, this giveaway has ended.