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:
I 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.
A 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!
Like 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 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.
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!
PLEASE NOTE: All images in this post are from Mou's site.