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

Working in Markdown with Markable

Markdown editors, whether on the desktop or the web or for mobile, seem like they’re a dime a dozen. They generally all have the same features and functions, with a few variations of course.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve worked with a number of Markdown editors. While, as I mentioned a paragraph ago, they’re generally all the same, I keep coming back to one or two.

One of those is Markable. It’s a web-based Markdown editor that, while bare bones, is functional enough for me to get my work done quickly and efficiently.

Getting Started with Markable

You need to sign up for an account with Markable. It’s free and only takes a few seconds. Once that’s done, you can log in. When you do that, you’re presented with a fairly spartan interface.

Markable's main window

You’ll notice the two panes. You write in the one on the left, and the on the right displays what your document will look like when it’s converted to HTML.

Twin pane editing in Markable

You can turn off the preview by selecting View > Toggle Preview. You can also get preview of the document by selecting View > File Page. This opens the rendered document in a new browser tab.

Using Markable is simple —just start typing. There are no toolbars that let you insert Markdown, but let’s be honest: Markdown is easy to learn and to remember. Typing it straight into the editor lets your writing flow.

Saving Your Work

Markable automatically saves what you’re writing. So, if you log out or start working on another computer or device, your work is there. But you should explicitly save your work by selecting File > Save. That gives you the opportunity to give your document a file name. The file is saved to Markable’s server.

That’s might not be the best option — you might want to work on the file in another tool. To get around that, you can export your document to Dropbox or Evernote. Just select Save to Dropbox or Save to Evernote under the Export menu. When you save a document to Evernote, it isn’t rendered as HTML; it’s in a monospace font with the Markdown formatting visible.

A Markable file that's been saved to Evernote

The Export menu also has options that lets you download an HTML version or raw Markdown version of your document to your computer or device.

Anything Else?

There are a few features worth noting. The first is the ability for you to upload HTML files by selecting File > Upload HTML. Markable will convert the HTML file to Markdown. Or, at least, will try to. You’ll lose some formatting — like tables and spacing between paragraphs.

If you use Tumblr, you can publish content directly from Markable by selecting Export > Post to Tumblr.

Finally, Markable works quite well on a tablet. I tested it with both a 10 inch and a 7 inch tablet, and had no trouble writing in Markable with either device.

Markable on a 7 inch tablet

Any Negatives?

There aren’t many for me. The main one is that Markable doesn’t have an offline mode. That would be quite useful.

A couple of people I’ve talked to about Markable have mentioned that they’d like a formatting toolbar and the ability to export documents as PDF files (in the same way another Markdown editor, Dillinger, does). Those aren’t deal breakers for me, though.

Overall, Markable is a quick and easy way to write in Markdown, no matter what computer or device you’re using. It meets my criteria of being fast, easy to use, and packing only the features (more or less) that I need.

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