Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Using Markdown, with a Chromebook and MaDe

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of my Chromebook. While it may be limited, it does what I need it to do.

One of my few complaints about the Chromebook is that it doesn’t include infrastructure to convert a file formatted with Markdown to HTML using command line script. That’s not a big deal —I can always use an online tool like Dillinger to do the deed. But even with my Chromebook, I’m not always online. Yes, Virginia, can use a Chromebook while offline …

A few months ago, I stumbled across an extension for the Chrome web browser called MaDe. It’s a combination Markdown editor and converter that lets you write and preview documents formatted in Markdown on a browser tab.

Simplicity Itself

MaDe is very simple. No, make that very simple. When you launch it, you get two panes. The left pane is where you write (or load or paste) your document, and the right pane offers an almost real time preview. There’s nothing fancy here. No toolbars, no automatic insertion of completion of words, no automatic insertion of Markdown formatting. But the editor does highlight Markdown, so it’s easier to see.

At its core, MaDe is a lot like typerighter.com and TextDrop. It’s a simple editor, which enables you to write and format your documents quickly and easily.

Getting Documents In and Out

There are three ways you can get your documents into MaDe. First, just launch it and start typing. Or, copy and paste it from another location. Finally, click the Import button in the top-right corner of the MaDe tab and then load the document that you want to work with. From there, get typing.

MaDe remembers where you left off after you close its tab or shut down your browser. That can be a blessing or a curse. The blessing: you can pick up where you left off. The curse: if you load or paste a new document into MaDe, the one you were working on is gone for good.

So, what do you do to save your work? Click the Export button and then select Export Source. That will download a text file to your hard drive. The only problem is that MaDe gives the file the name untitled.md. There doesn’t seem to be a way to change the name of the file.

What happens if you want to generate an HTML file from your Markdown document? Just click the Export button and choose one of the following options:

  • Export HTML, which generates a basic HTML file that you can drop into a blogging or content management system like WordPress
  • Export HTML (Full), which generates an HTML file that contains HTML head elements along with formatting information. You can post this file directly to the web

Not Just For Chromebooks

So, maybe you’re intrigued by MaDe. But you don’t own a Chromebook. That’s OK. It also works with the Chrome and Chromium web browsers, and (of course) the Chromebox (the desktop version of a Chromebook).

I’ve tried it using the browsers on various laptops in my household and MeDe works just fine.

Final Thoughts

MaDe has made working in Markdown on my Chromebook that much easier. It has little or no learning curve, works offline, and is very simple to use. MaDe makes it easy for me to write in Markdown on my Chromebook. It might not appeal to everyone, even Markdown users, but it lets me do my work. And that’s all that matters to me.

Thoughts? Let's start a conversation on Twitter.

Did you enjoy this post or find it useful? Then please consider supporting this blog with a micropayment via PayPal. Thanks!