Welcome to the lab.

Marked 2.5 is official!

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Marked 2.5—a major update to my Markdown preview and writing tools collection—is now available for direct purchase and from the Mac App Store! It’s a free upgrade for all Marked 2 customers, and available at a discounted $11.99 for new customers right now.

I teased a few of the new features in August, but there was a lot of testing and polishing to do before release. Here are some of the new features that the update offers.

Spelling and Grammar Checking

As an in-app purchase for both direct and MAS customers, Marked can now check spelling and grammar, in addition to all of the previous syntax checking, readability, and writing tools. I got frustrated having all of my analysis in Marked while proofreading but still having to pop back to my editor for spellchecking. This update solves it!

Custom Global Shortcuts

You can now assign a shortcut to allow you to jump to Marked from anywhere, but my favorite shortcut is the “Raise first window” hotkey. This will pop the top window (assumably your most recent) to the foreground without losing focus in your current application.

New Application Support

Marked 2 now has official support for MindNode and Xcode Playground files. It also amps up support for Scrivener by recognizing more of its internal syntaxes (comments, page breaks, line breaks, internal links and embedded images).

Fountain preview is updated for accuracy, and now supports “forced” elements. You can also toggle comment visibility for both Scrivener and Fountain formats.

New Help System

The new help system provides a smarter fuzzy search for topics, a URL scheme for bookmarking and deep linking, and easy bookmarking of topics. It also hooks into the OS X help system in a way that allows you to pop up the Help menu item (⇧⌘/) and search both menu items and help topics (by text and keywords) at once.


Override export font sizes, set a custom font for headers and footers (font, size, and color options), add an automatic page break after a Table of Contents, and it even has improved tools for preventing widowed words and orphaned paragraphs in export.

Take a look at the full release notes if that’s not enough to intrigue. If you’re a writer of any kind and haven’t checked out Marked 2, I (obviously) recommend taking a look!

Web Excursions for October 06, 2015

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You get a couple of bonus links this week because my script got carried away. Technology!

PodCon 2015
On Thursday, October 8, 2015 I’ll be joining a distinguished bunch of podcasters for Pod Con 2015. 4 hours of live broadcasting via blab.im about how and why we do what we do. Head over and RSVP!
Did you know NASA has an API?
Hack: A typeface designed for source code
My new favorite text editor font. I still use Meslo in apps like nvALT, mostly because it has versions with different linespacing, but in Sublime and Xcode, this is excellent.
Sheetsu adds an API layer to Google Spreadsheet. I’ve been doing this the hard way for a long time, as Google Docs is what drives iTextEditors. Looking forward to exploring the possibilities here.
DevTools Tips For Sublime Text Users
Google Developers offers a rundown of cool tricks in Chrome DevTools that will already be familiar to Sublime Text users. Port your muscle memory!
Quiver: The Programmer’s Notebook
I’m playing with this right now. It allows you to save snippets with cells set to various types (text, markdown, code w/language), and stores them as JSON objects in text files. Thus, you can mix Markdown and code snippets, copy them out, tag them, and even has a presentation mode. It has a few missing features, but shows promise.
Sketch Repo
This is an excellent collection of Sketch.app templates, icons, and UI elements. Also, when you’re on this site, just start typing any search term (no input box needed). It’s cool.

Recap: September

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Thanks to September’s sponsors!

Some posts of interest from September:

Share all your browser tabs at once (Sep 4th)
A Service/App for OS X to collect all your browser tabs into an HTML page on Dropbox that you can quickly share.
SearchLink 2.2.2 (Sep 8th)
Updates to my favorite OS X Service of all time.
An nvALT (and more) status report (Sep 14th)
What’s the deal?
“Dear Abby” for nerds? (Sep 16th)
I’m planning a newsletter. Share your ideas.
Quick and dirty JSON validation in Cocoa (Sep 22nd)
Just in case you ever need to evaluate a chunk of JSON or JavaScript for usable syntax within a Cocoa app.
Do it right: Writing about Apple (Sep 23rd)
Do you write about Apple products or document Apple software? Did you know Apple has a style guide to aid in consistency?
Grab sibling links with the Similarity bookmarklet (Sep 28th)
A browser bookmarklet that intelligently determines which links to collect based on the characteristics of the link you click. It’s perfect for opening or saving all of the “Top 15 resources for…” links in a post.

Check out the latest Web Excursions, too!

Recaps are a quick, curated summary of recent posts on BrettTerpstra.com. You can keep up on the site with RSS, or subscribe specifically to the Recaps and get updates in digest format.

Swearing politely with TextExpander

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I make a concerted effort to not curse online. I’ve broken that rule more often in recent years, but never cursing online for 20 years served me well. Especially these days on Facebook, where my family (and friends who don’t know me as well but actually see me face to face) frequent, it tends to be bad form. (Rory Vaden discusses this in Take the Stairs, and he and I dive in a bit on Systematic 126).

Yesterday, I was posting to Facebook on my iPhone, and wanted to “cartoon censor” a few less friendly words in a post. I think I was trying to avoid escalating a gun control argument. I thought “it takes way too much time to type out these random character strings.” Mentioned it on Twitter, and solved the issue in the same tweet.

TextExpander to the rescue. I’ve added two ways to handle the issue to the te-tools project, both designed to work with TextExpander Touch on iOS (in addition to Mac).

The first is a snippet group called “Cursed” that you can add specific words to auto-censor when typed. It comes with vanilla examples, so this is one you’ll want to copy instead of adding a URL group. You simply add plain text snippets containing %snippet:_jstecensor%, and then set the abbreviation to any word you want to censor. Next time you type it, it will be censored with a random set of punctuation characters.

That solution, however, means you can’t swear without censoring, plus all of that configuration. So version 2 was added to the Tools group with the abbreviation ,,swear (prefix configurable). If you already have a URL group for Tools, this should be in there by now. For details on using the TE-Tools groups, see the project page. This one uses a fill-in. Just type ,,swear and fill in the word you want to censor.

The JavaScript function will leave the suffix on words ending in “er”, “ers”, “s”, and “ing”, so you can convey conjugation better. Thus “mothertruckers” becomes “&%^*#$!¡@ø@ers” and “ducking” becomes “ø&¡$ing.”

Enjoy your Minnesota Nice posting.

The Mac Pick-A-Bundle has some sweet apps…

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Creatable is running a “Mac Pick A Bundle” promo right now where you can pick any 10 apps out of a list of 30 and pay $39. The app selection has some true gems (i.e. “things I would buy at full price”). You can see the full selection at the promo page.

I own all the most valuable (to me) ones already, but I thought you should know about this. Because I love you. Some of these usually cost more individually than the price of the entire bundle, so if you don’t already have them, you should check it out.

My favorites:

  • Paw (awesome for API testing)
  • Scrivener (awesome for writing long form)
  • Soulver (awesome for talking yourself through equations)
  • Mail Pilot 2 (awesome if you’re not already using MailMate)
  • Downie 2 (awesome for stealing videos)
  • Scapple (awesome for unstructured brainstorming)
  • Emulsion (awesome if you miss Aperture)
  • Deep Dreamer (awesome if you like generating pretty pictures)
  • Pixa (awesome for icon management, among other photo tasks)
  • Rapidweaver 6 (awesome if you’re not a web designer but need websites)
  • Posterino (I don’t use it every day, but it’s awesome for collages when you need it)

There are plenty more to choose from, including Typed from Realmac, iShowU Studio, Freeway Pro 7, and a dozen others. Check out the bundle at creatable.co.

Similarity bookmarklet update

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I’ve updated the Similarity bookmarklet that I posted yesterday. If you missed it, it’s a bookmarklet for desktop browsers that lets you quickly gather links in “Top X resources for…” type posts. It works on Product Hunt collections, “related posts” boxes, etc. By determining common characteristics of links, it does a pretty good job of only selecting links of the same type as you clicked.

Here’s what changed.

  1. It’s a little more forgiving when finding containers now, so it’s more likely to work with link lists of different formats
  2. It does a better job of fixing line breaks and trailing spaces in titles when generating Markdown lists
  3. It offers an option to open in new tabs or output the Markdown list for copying
  4. It’s back to being hosted remotely, which means it can auto-update as I make changes
    • (I figured out how to get Cloudfront to use Amazon SSL certificates while still pulling http-only from my server)

I think that’s all, just needed a little break and made some quick changes. I did a round of tests and all seems well, but let me know what you run into. Grab the updated bookmarklet below (drag to your bookmarks bar):


Grab sibling links with the Similarity bookmarklet

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How many times have you visited a post with a list of resources, e.g. “15 resources for free stock photos,” and wished you could just grab them all at once? I don’t know about you, but it happens to me frequently.

This bookmarklet lets you click any link on the page, then analyzes it to find immediate sibling links of the same type, within the same immediate container element. Currently, it displays them as a Markdown list, but I may add an option to simply open them all in new tabs, or even add Pinboard bookmarks for all of them with a custom tag. If you’re interested in additional features like that, let me know so I can gauge the level of effort I should put into any further development.

Drag the link below to your browser’s bookmark bar, then click it on any page with a list of links. Hover over one of the links in the list and click to grab all of the links that match its criteria. Typing any key or clicking outside of the Markdown output display will turn the bookmarklet off and restore page functionality.


Note that:

  1. Similarity is written in pure JavaScript and requires no external loads. I ran into issues with loading external bookmarklets in Chrome with its new security issues (because I don’t want to generate an SSL certificate for a server with no other need for one).
  2. It also uses “modern” JavaScript features, so it won’t work for anyone using older browsers. No offense to those folks, but I just don’t care about them.
  3. This should work on mobile, but I make no guarantees.

Let me know how it goes!

Web Excursions for September 25, 2015

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UIPalette combines all of the best tools for finding color trends and generating palettes in one interface. Hailpixel, Color Hunt, Adobe Color CC and more.
USB-C 12” Macbook 5 in 1 Adapter v2
This seems like a good idea. I haven’t sprung for a new MacBook yet, but I imagine this would be a very handy accessory. Currently pre-order.
A “cURL-like tool for humans.” If you’ve ever written out long curl commands with a bunch of headers and -d data arguments when testing an API, this is a much more humane option. On the more expensive side, I’ve been loving Paw for GUI-based API work.
Via OneThingWell, as seems to be the case at least once per Excursions post, so you should probably watch posts there as well.
My typewriter decal on my rMBP is wearing out, and I’ve been hunting for a good decal to replace it. This site has some of the most intriguing, though I’m still looking for one that really sums up my personality, interests, passions, goals, and potential Craigslist ads in one sticker that everyone at the coffeehouse can use to summarize me in a glance.
Find a Remote Job
A Product Hunt collection of tools for finding remote jobs, including Nomad List 2.0, Remote OK, Remotive Jobs, Gigster 2.0, and We Work Remotely.