Markdown is a plain text formatting syntax created by John Gruber in 2004. It’s designed to be easy-to-read and easy-to-write.
Readability is at the very heart of Markdown. It offers the advantages of plain text, provides a convenient format for writing for the web, but it’s not intended to be a replacement for HTML. Markdown is a writing format, not a publishing format. You control the display of the document; formatting words as bold or italic, adding images, and creating lists are just a few of the things we can do with Markdown. Mostly, Markdown is just regular text with a few non-alphabetic characters included, such as # or *.
Markdown has a much more basic syntax than HTML, leaving aside things like opening and closing tags, and instead uses punctuation and characters that all users will already use in daily writing. The punctuation characters have been carefully chosen to resemble what they mean. The intention is to ensure that the syntax does not stop the flow of writing, allowing the author to focus on content, rather than how it looks. In this way, Markdown shares a common bond with LaTeX, a document preparation system for high quality typesetting, which also encourages authors not to focus too much on the appearance, but to concentrate on the right content.
Markdown can be composed in any text editor. But I recommend an editor purposely designed for this syntax. The software featured in this roundup allows an author to write professional documents of various formats including blog posts, presentations, reports, email, slides and more. All of the applications are, of course, released under an open source license. Linux, OS X and Windows’ users are catered for.
This article does not include general purpose text editors like Atom, Vim, or Emacs. Of course, they are capable Markdown editors. There’s also packages/plugins available for these editors (and others) that add Markdown functionality. But this Group Test focuses instead on dedicated markdown editors.
Here’s our recommended dedicated Markdown editors.
Let’s explore the 9 programs at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources. They are all open source goodness.
|Mark Text||Simple and elegant Markdown editor|
|StackEdit||Full-featured Markdown editor based on PageDown|
|Abricotine||Markdown editor built for desktop|
|ReText||Supports Markdown and reStructuredText markup languages|
|CodiMD||Realtime collaborative markdown notes|
|Apostrophe||Distraction free Markdown editor|
|Zettlr||Billed as the Markdown editor for the 21st century|
|ghostwriter||Distraction-free Markdown editor|
|Remarkable||Python-based editor with live preview, MathJax support and more|
|Return to our complete collection of recommended free and open source software including our latest additions.|