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markdown

Collaborative writing has been one of the many things the web was supposed to simplify, and yet it’s still as broken as it’s ever been. Live co-editing like Google Docs offers only works for a very few niche scenarios, and newer tools like Draft and Editorially only work great for one writer and one editor giving feedback on a finished work. And the old style of emailing documents back and forth — or the slightly updated version of saving them to a shared Dropbox — is still far from ideal.

There’s one tech tool that’s seemed promising recently, though: git. The geeky version control system used most famously by GitHub is designed to let software developers collaborate on code, and is the very reason people around the globe can contribute to open source projects. Code is just text, of course, so earlier this year two dozen mathematicians wrote The HoTT Book collaboratively using GitHub. That was quite an undertaking, both for its unprecedented collaboration and for using git for writing even when it wasn’t exactly designed for it.

But what if GitHub was reinvented around writing? That’s what Penflip, a new git-powered writing app, aims to find out.

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There’s plenty of ways to blog today, but one has caught the imagination of bloggers and developers more than any this year: Ghost. And today, it’s finally ready for everyone to try out.

We tried out Ghost when it was first released to Kickstarter backers a few weeks back, and found it to be a brilliantly simple way to blog in Markdown — that is, once you get it installed. That last point is far simpler today, thanks to the efforts of Ghost’s partners including our whole Envato team.

Here’s the tools you need to get a new Ghost-powered blog today:

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When WordPress gets too complex and you want something more personal than Medium, what are you going to use to blog? There’s Svbtle, but it’s invite-only, and most of the cool new Markdown blogging platforms are self-hosted apps, which is more trouble to manage than many want to take on.

Silvrback is a new project that’s trying to bring simple Markdown-powered blogging to everyone. It’s got a bit of Svbtle and Medium’s style and the simplicity of pure Markdown blogging, without having to worry about invites and uploads and servers.

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Sometimes it seems that apps comes in waves. It’ll seem like a whole category is stagnant, with nothing seriously new coming out in years — then all the sudden there’s several new upstarts competing for the crown with brand-new features. It’s felt like that this summer with iOS photo apps, and it’s been the very same with collaborative writing and editing web apps.

Google Docs was the state-of-the-art for document collaboration, and then Draft, and Editorially burst onto the scenes. We’ve looked at the former already, seeing how it is the word processor reinvented for the web, and how its grown to include a paid editing service, stats for your writing, plain text todos, and more. The latter, though, hasn’t picked up traction as quickly due to it still being in beta. Editorially is still interesting, and with hints being dropped of its future and expanded feature set, it’s more than worth a look.

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It was a only a little under 3 months ago that we called Draft “The Word Processor for the Web“. A just-launched app that I’d been testing with a few of my colleagues, Draft was one online writing app that’d captured my imagination — and got me to rethink how I write my articles.

If you’ve already tried out Draft, it needs no introduction. Otherwise, here’s a quick summary: it’s an online markdown writing app that saves version of your documents as you write, lets you open and save files on your online storage services, and has built-in collaboration tools to let others edit your work.

That in itself is a lot, enough to make quite the dent in the online writing market. But Nathan Kontny, the developer behind Draft, hasn’t stopped working, and today Draft has quite a few extra features that make it better without making it more confusing or cluttered.

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One of the recent trends in blogging has been the implementation of flat file blogging systems that take your Markdown files and render them as blog posts in beautiful website form. However, a lot of these are self-hosted and for those who may not have the technical knowledge to get one of these set up, or perhaps just want to get on with blogging, they’ll be pleased to know there’s a pretty good solution that aims to get bloggers up and running in mere minutes.

That solution is Scriptogr.am.

Scriptogr.am is both a frontend and a backend for your blog, taking the Markdown files from its designated folder in your Dropbox and collating them into a fully-featured and working blog. Also, did I mention it’s free? Find out more after the fold! (more…)

I’m always on the hunt for good plain text editors. I use them for just about everything now: I write in plain text for every one of my clients and for my own personal website. I even use Fountain, a Markdown-inspired plain text plain text syntax, to write movies. On my Mac, I’ve got a bunch of different apps that handle this kind of thing, but I’m not always on my Mac when inspiration hits. I’m not necessarily on my iPhone or iPad or Android devices either. Sometimes, I’m at a library.

So what then? I’ve been looking for a great plaintext/Markdown/Fountain editor that can handle all my needs that exists on the web. I haven’t found the perfect one yet (and really, what is perfect?), but Scribbler is so close that it’s nearly frustrating. Read on to find out why I think you might want to bookmark Scribbler. (more…)

If you’re looking for a great markdown-powered plain-text writing app, there’s dozens of apps out there — native apps for your device, or web apps that’ll run anywhere. There’s awesomely minimalist writing apps like Typewriter, or newer apps like Draft that make it easy to track your document’s revisions and get others to check your work.

But even if you love web apps, and need something that’ll work on any platform, sometimes apps that run online aren’t the best option. And native apps … well, chances are they won’t run on all the computers you use.

How about something that combines the best of both worlds? That’s exactly what Textdown — an offline Markdown writing app for Chrome — is. Spoiler: it’s really great, too.

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Continuing from where we left off with my lists of tiny, free and useful apps for designers and developers, we’ve put together a list of 10 simple yet terribly useful apps for freelancers.

If you are a freelancer, you already know the pains of wearing a bunch of hats all at the same time. Unlike with teams and bigger organizations, there aren’t people assigned to take care of certain tasks while others focus on what they do best. Nope, you’re alone and most probably taking care of everything from your finances and communication to day-to-day project work all by yourself.

What follows is a list of apps that can ease that pressure a bit — they’ll take care of some of those menial tasks while you spend your valuable time and energies on keeping your clients happy.

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The year’s 1981. A newly incorporated computer company in Washington State decides to make a word processor to give people a reason to use computers. Launched for DOS in 1983 and the original Macintosh two years later, Word became the #1 way most people around the world write on their computers for over 30 years, and counting.

Word’s nice, in its own ways, but it’s designed for the world of the 1980′s, and the most important way to share documents of that day: paper. It’s designed to format documents for print, not digital sharing. Word has even made the transition to the web, but it’s still focused on print documents laid out on a virtual piece of Letter or A4 paper. Google Docs and other online word processors are no better suited for today, centering still around publishing on paper.

The year’s 2013. We need a word processor, one designed for online publishing that lets you write anywhere, save your files online, and collaborate with others.

That app is here, and it’s called Draft.

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