Look, I made you a Markdown teleprompter

PromptDown Edit Screen PromptDown Prompt Screen

Be sure to check out version 2, with iOS support (iPhone/iPad)!

Here’s my stupid trick of the day: a Markdown teleprompter called PromptDown (I see what you did there…). The idea was to create a teleprompter for recording screencast voiceovers that was cheap, fast and worked on plain text. I wanted to provide a non-WYSIWYG form field for typing or pasting which still preserved paragraph breaks, so Markdown (via Showdown) was an ideal solution. I also included the jQuery “tabby” plugin so you could use tabs in the textarea without jumping out of it, which is nice when editing Markdown, depending on your formatting habits. The rest is just CSS and quick-and-dirty tricks.

How to use it

It takes input in standard Markdown format and, when you press the “Prompt” button or hit Shift-Enter, it blacks the screen and renders your Markdown in large, contrasting text. Then you can hit Spacebar or Enter to start and stop scrolling. Stopping auto-scroll and using your mouse’s scroll wheel will allow you to navigate. Escape (or a click on the background) will take you back to the editor.

There are a few more tricks listed in the text that initially populates the text area when the page loads. Among them is a note that entering a horizontal rule in Markdown syntax will give you a bright yellow marker at that point in your script, which is handy for longer work. The easiest format for a horizontal rule, for me, is - - -, three dashes with spaces between them on their own line.

Why I made it

Why did I spend an hour and a half making a cheap teleprompter with very few features? Because I just wanted to scroll some text, and the market for Mac-based teleprompters seemed to start around $65 and go up from there. I’m not one to complain about a price when there’s appropriate value, but I’m assuming that those $65-250 apps were doing magical things I just didn’t need. This is my solution, as hackish as it may be. As an aside, I used to have a license for VideoCue, which I loved, but I never upgraded it and now I’ve lost both it and my older version of VideoCue. Drat.

Do it yourself

Feel free to use it online, or feel free to borrow the code and build your own locally. It doesn’t require anything unusual, and will run right from a folder on your desktop if you point your browser there. I should note that it works much better in Safari 5 than in Firefox, at least in my quick testing (and hopefully not-at-all in Internet Explorer… I’m still carrying a grudge). I’m not really going for a fully cross-browser, all-purpose solution here. It fills a need for me, and if someone wants it to do something else, they can have at it. Here’s a zip of the code as of this evening: PromptDown.zip. Try out the online version at http://brettterpstra.com/share/promptdown.

Brett Terpstra

Brett is a writer and developer living in Minnesota, USA. You can follow him as ttscoff on Twitter, GitHub, and Mastodon. Keep up with this blog by subscribing in your favorite news reader.

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