Software: Mou App Review

Mou editor window screenshot On it’s site, mouapp.com, the text editor “Mou” is aptly described as “The missing Markdown editor for web developers”. And, for me anyways, it truly is. I’ve been using it for several weeks now and I wanted to share my thoughts on how I found it and how it has found it’s way into my writing/blogging system.

If you write in Markdown, you’ll know that there is no shortage of apps out there that cater to it. But many of them merely export to html or maybe, if you’re lucky, give you a popup preview pane to view what you’ve created before you do.

With that in mind, I went on the hunt for a Markdown editor that worked differently. First and foremost, I wanted something that could accurately display my Markdown inline. A lot of Markdown editors to date give this kind of visual feedback on screen, but most of the time it’s just an indicator showing you that you’ve successfully applied the proper syntax. It doesn’t show you what it will look like when it’s translated into html. So, as I mulled through a pile of research on the editors I Googled, I was surprised that I couldn’t find an editor out there that gave me this type of feedback. I couldn’t, that is, until one night the good folks at Scriptogram tweeted to the world an app that was in beta called “Mou”. Not only did they specify that it was built for web developers using Markdown, but that it also offered many options that some of the editors did not.

Naturally, I was psyched at the possibility of finally finding the editor I’d been searching for! Of course, I still had to use it. :)

Well, I did and I am happy to report it is now definitely my go-to Markdown editor on the Mac (it’s Mac only by the way. It also only runs on 10.7 or higher.)! There are a lot of reasons why I chose it and, honestly, the bulk of these features can be found in other editors. But the most important ones are all here (including a few that I didn’t even know that I needed) in one tidy package.

Here’s a rundown of the key features that tipped the scale for me:

Split Screen Edit Window for Realtime Markdown to HTML Conversion

Mou editor window screenshotI actually wish I could film this, because it’s hands down my favorite feature. When open Mou, you’ll notice immediately that the edit window is split down the middle to show your Markdown code on one side and it’s translation to HTML on the other. But what’s really awesome is, as you type your Markdown on the left side, it is updated with the html conversion on the right,in realtime! There is a second of lag as the program does it’s thing, but I tell ya, this instant feed back is fast, beautifully implemented and unbelievably handy when you want to know how your code is going to look when you post it up for the world to see.

This all said, Mou’s default setup only shows your code in the raw html format, the CSS of the site you are posting to could, and will, change what you see on the right (sometimes significantly). The good news? You can import your site’s CSS into Mou if you want to have an even better representation of what your end product will look like.

Post Function

Post to ScriptogramA very close second in my running for “favorite feature”, is Mou’s “Post” function. This site you are reading runs onScriptogram’s framework, and Mou’s ability to post to a site running on Scriptogram is some wizbang hoodoo that I am glad just works. Once you put your Scriptogram site’s unique ID into Mou’s preferences, it becomes an option under the File>Post menu.

I gotta tell ya, not having to log into the back end of my site to post something is just damn convenient. It’s easy to use and it works every time.

Oh and if you’re a Tumblr user, it can post to that too!

Auto Complete

Supports Auto CompleteLike any code-based language, Markdown has a syntax logic that, while super simple, readable and easy to use, still needs to be upheld in order to work. Mou does a great job at making sure that your code (spelling and grammar too) is correct through it’s auto-complete functionality. When you type a “(“it automatically places a “)” in front of your cursor. This is a wonderful time-saver! In fact, it actually makes me want to use Mou as an everyday text editor for anything (which of course you could) and I sometimes do.

I could go on about the other ways that Mao’s autocomplete works, but if you use Markdown in your day-to-day, you’ll have to trust me when I say it makes writing in Markdown even more simple to use.

Themes

Mou supports custom themesThemes are in just about every text editor out there now. That all said, Mou’s are great and it’s nice to have it added in with everything else in such a robust program. Customizing any text editor to your liking is is key and with Mou it’s easy to do.

There are other cool features too!

  • It’s super fast! It feels like a light weight editor when you use it and it’s burned through anything I have thrown at it quickly.
  • A word/character/byte counter
  • A really simple export to HTML or PDF option (that can even include your css too!)
  • View Controls with Enhanced CJK Support for folks around the world writing in character-based languages the run vertically.
  • Supports OSX’s full screen mode and autosave function (a life saver if you need something from a previous version)
  • A powerful set of keyboard actions that allow you to write your Markdown even faster.
  • Incremental Search for looking for things easier and granularly within your document.

Seems Awesome Right? So Where Do You Get It?

Mou currently is in Beta, but every build that’s dropped has been rock solid in my usage. The good news is that this awesome editor is free right now because of it’s beta state! Eventually it will be for sale (price TBD) when it reaches version 1.0 release. But if you donate to the development (highly recommended), you’ll get a free upgrade when that version is ready!

Links:

  • Mou App: http://mouapp.com – download link is that bottom of the page. If you can, feel free to donate!
  • Develper: Chen Luo
  • Twitter for the app: @mou
  • Twitter for the Developer: @chenluois

PLEASE NOTE: All images in this post are from Mou’s site.

Software: Drafts

If you haven’t guessed by now, you’re probably new to this site, and if so, welcome! If not, you’ll undoubtedly know that I am an iOS text editor enthusiast to the umpteenth degree! I really love what developers out there have done to create such robust and fun ways to create words and text on such tiny screens and devices!

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One that I’ve been playing around with for a good amount of time is Drafts. Drafts, on it’s own, is a very elegant and clean text editor that’s UI is completely spartan by design. It main function is for you to launch it, jot a note or idea down and close it. The app saves your work in a plain text format and the next time you open the app? It starts a new note. This wash, rinse, repeat philosophy is what got me to first buy and try the app. But, it’s only when you open up Drafts and use it for a bit, that you realize that this text editor quite unique and powerful.

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Aside from the impressive collection of fonts that the kind folks at Agile Tortoisebaked in, you also get the requisite font size selector and two other themes to mix things up a bit (white text on black and a “Sepia” toned dark brown text on tan based theme). There is also a new view in the latest version of the app that is quite handy called “Link” mode which makes all the links that you type in to a note, tap-able! URLs would be easy but this view also includes phone numbers and even addresses! Think about it, you get a phone number from someone, put it in Drafts, and instead of holding down on the text, making sure it’s selected, opening the phone app, copying it into the dial field and tapping dial, now all you have to do is tap the “Link” mode in the note, tap the number, then dial. It’s that easy!

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It also has sync but the folks at Agile Tortoise didn’t want to jump through the myriad of hoops that Apple makes you go through to hook your app up to iCloud so they went with the well-thought-of sync project “Symperium“. In my using of both Drafts apps for iPhone and iPad, I’ve found the sync to be almost instantaneous and, most importantly, reliable. Which has been a little bit of a sticking point for me with the somewhat recent implementation of iCloud sync in apps. The only catch though with going with Symperium is that it doesn’t allow you to sync with your Mac (or PC, yet…). Presumably, going with the more “open” Symperium service, would afford the opportunity sync cross platform/device, but that hasn’t happened yet, so the only way you’d be able to get your notes out of your respective iOS device is through the sharing options provided to you.

The good news? This is definitely where Drafts shines! When you use Drafts you could almost overlook the sharing button in the toolbar of your notes, but after you tap it… man… there are a ton of options!

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Here’s a rundown of the current list of services that Drafts hooks into, most of which I use (some of which I’ve reviewed on this very site):

  • Post to Facebook or Twitter
  • Email your notes anywhere
  • SMS
  • Save and append to Dropbox
  • Send to iCal (Calendar)
  • Create a Reminder in iOS “Reminders” app
  • copy it to the clipboard in iOS
  • Print
  • Save to Evernote (can also save as Markdown)
  • Send to Tweetbot (twitter client)
  • Send to Day One (journaling client that I love)
  • And last but not least you can choose “Open in…” which allows you to open the note in any other text editor that you have on your device.

That’s quite a list! And they keep adding more with each version that drops!

With these sharing options, Drafts has become a my springboard for whenever I even have a whimsy about sharing a piece of text in more than one place. They’ve made it too damn easy to not see it as your default app for that. If I wasn’t such an iOS text editor junky, I’d probably have this as my sole go-to editor.

Add in it’s full support of Markdown and it’s really a no brainer.

To date I’ve used it for quick notes (movie names, phone numbers, etc…), calendar events, to do lists, entire chapters of the novel I am writing, Tweets, Facebook posts (when I actually am on FB), blog posts (though not this one), and the list could go on and on but you get the point, this app is a tiny juggernaut.

So go get it! Highly recommended!

Where to get it:

  1. iPhone – $1.99
  2. iPad – $2.99

What about the guys that made it?

All images in this post were linked from Agile Tortoise’s own website.