Long-form writing with Marked 2, plus 2.5.11 teaser!

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The next update to Marked 2 (2.5.11) is almost ready. It’s a free update, and should be ready in the next week (maybe two). If you’re not already a user, you can grab a free trial, and if you choose to buy now (and support development of this and BitWriter), these new features will be handed to you automatically when testing is finished.

As a tangential aside, things are a bit tight for me right now as I work on multiple unfinished (and thus far unpaid) projects. If you feel like offering a show of support for upcoming projects, feel free to donate or pledge continuing support with a subscription!

Because I’ve made a lot of low-level changes to improve efficiency in this release, I’d be glad to have some beta testers. If you’re interested, please contact me and I’ll hook you up.

In the meantime, here’s a quick teaser of a few new features.

Tease me

IA Writer includes
Marked has always done its best to normalize between various flavors of Markdown and special syntax. It has its own format for handling file transclusion, and supports mmd_merge, Leanpub, MultiMarkdown transclude syntax, and GitBook index files. The next version adds support for IA Writer file include syntax (/filename), and handles detecting and properly formatting for the type of file included, such as text, image, csv…
CSV tables!
Admittedly I cribbed this feature from IA Writer as I worked to support their syntax. I love it, though. If an included file is a CSV (or TSV), Marked will automatically turn it into a table in the output. Obviously this isn’t going to work with overly complex spreadsheets, but anything that should reasonably turn into a table does.

The new Tufte style!

A new style called Ink that’s replacing Antique. It’s based on Edward Tufte’s work (and Dave Liepmann’s CSS), and looks pretty great. The original Antique will remain available in the MarkedCustomStyles repository.

Fullscreen TOC
When switching to Full Screen mode with a preview window, the table of contents becomes a left sidebar, fixed in place unless explicitly hidden with ⌘T. Fullscreen and popup modes can be toggled in both Full Screen and windowed previews.

Teach me

The documentation in the 2.5.11 has received a lot of love. Because Marked’s feature set has grown to include a vast number of writing tools, I want to highlight a few existing features here.

Writing a book

You can use Marked to compile large documents from separate files in a few ways (full documentation).

  1. Marked’s include syntax

    You can add external documents in an index file or include them anywhere in the text. These can be nested, so included files can include more files. It can also be used to add code examples and raw HTML from external files.

  2. MultiMarkdown transclude syntax

    You can also use syntax based on the newer MultiMarkdown spec. Marked will recognize Transclude Base: path in MMD metadata and use it as the base for file transclusion.

  3. Leanpub index files

    Leanpub’s format is a simple Book.txt file that lists the chapter files in publication order. It’s handled the same way as mmd_merge files (which also work in Marked). You can use this even if you’re not publishing via Leanpub. Just enable Leanpub processing under Preferences->Apps.

  4. GitBook index files

    These use a more Markdown-style list/link format in a SUMMARY.md file.

  5. Scrivener and Ulysses

    Entire documents written in Scrivener can be previewed simply by dragging the .scriv file to Marked. Any documents in the Drafts folder will be rendered in order. Here’s the documentation for that. Ulysses sheets can be selected and previewed as a collated document using Ulysses’ quick preview (⌘6). Set the format to Text->Textbundle and choose Marked 2 as the target application. Then you can just hit ⌘6, Return to see the results. Note that files in “External Folders” can be viewed directly with automatic update on save.

Multi-file document features

When previewing files built from indexes or with includes in them, Marked 2 has features to make working with them easier.

  1. Edit included file

    Marked knows which file the section you’re currently viewing is associated with. While “Open in External Editor” will open the main index or parent file, pressing ⇧I will display the currently-visible included file. Pressing Return while the filename popup is displayed will open that file in your editor.

  2. Include chart

    Marked can show you a color-coded sidebar displaying where included files start and end, including nested includes. In the Gear menu at the bottom right you can choose “Show Boundaries of Included Files” to turn this on. You can also just hit ⌃⌘B to toggle it on and off. Hovering your mouse over the sidebar will show what file the current section comes from, and clicking it will open that file in your editor.

Both of these features mean you can preview your entire book, taking advantage of Marked’s extensive analysis and proofreading tools, and easily jump to editing a specific chapter or section when you find a change is needed.

I’ll try to post tips like these (and update the screencasts) a little more frequently, though between maintaining and improving Marked and trying to finish BitWriter, time for blogging is shorter…