While teaching class today, I discovered another great use for one of my favorite Mac apps, Marked. What is Marked, you ask? It is a way to preview plain text files formatted with the lightweight text markup syntax called Markdown. Markdown lets you keep all of your writing in plain text but still apply formatting like emphasis and bold text. It really shines in writing destined for the web by making the text much easier to write and read by removing all the normal HTML cruft from the file, replacing them with an easy-to-learn shorthand markup that accomplishes the same thing.
Even though text written with Markdown is easy to read, sometimes you want to make sure everything looks and works right before publishing it, which is where something like Marked comes in. Even though several of the editors I use include a preview mode, I prefer using Marked because of its rich set of features and output options. I typically write in iA Writer or Byword and open the file in Marked as I write to preview links and formatting as I go. Then I can either output it from Marked as a PDF or copy/paste the HTML to publish to the web.
Before heading to class this morning, I wrote a list of questions for discussion and opened them in Marked on the screen of the projector to share with the class and guide discussion. That’s when it occurred to me that as the class discussed the questions, I could take notes in my original text file on my screen, and Marked would auto-update with the new bullet points on the projected screen for the class to see. After class, I copied the text from Marked in rich text format and pasted it into a new Google doc for the class to use. Nice.