Markdown - the advantage and afterall why?

I maintain a small website and found Markdown was perfect for easily adding content. I use the most popular formatting (bold, italic, lists, links, images) plus an occasional horizontal rule.

I bought and, very quickly, gave up on Ulysses because it doesn’t use standard forms of Markdown but rather its own proprietary version. You have to learn a non-standard Markdown syntax in this app. What’s more, most of the texts I’ve written in Markdown via Drafts, or similar, do not show properly in Ulysses so it is basically useless. I spent more time trying to wrangle text I’d written in Ulysses into standard html format on output than if I’d written it as html directly!!

My advice would be, if you want to explore Markdown, stick with Drafts or another plain text editor that can offer you a preview (Byword is a good one).


Just read this thread. SGML was a markup language extremely similar to HTML. In fact HTML was derived from SGML I wrote a program back in 1996 that parsed and rendered SGML or HTML to plain ASCII text. I also wrote an ASCII text formatter. I used these to convert public domain books I received in SGML into plain ASCII which I distributed on a BBS I had at the time.

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In the preferences window, you can select a different Markdown dictionary to use…

You can convert an existing Ulysses sheet into other Markdown flavors with this menu…

Ulysses isn’t for everyone. It doesn’t have table markup preview and a few other Markdown sets but I think I have most of what I needed.

Yes, Ulysses has the strange Markdown XL which is their flavor. But I don’t use the Markdown output. I just export to PDF, HTML, and ePub, and Word.

Is there a reason why you prefer to transfer Markdown from one app to another? In the preferences window, I can change the markdown syntax to fit my needs.

I have been looking at iA Writer recently to see how that app works.


I wanted to have my texts, written just before buying Ulysses, in the app to act as a mini reference library for when I wrote new posts.

When I tried to use the texts I was working on at the time, Ulysses had mangled them, and neither could I get a new text, using instances of the same (perfectly correct) html/Markdown “idioms”, to output consistently with the same format as posts written in the past. When I put these same newly-created texts into any one of a number of Markdown editors, the preview/output showed as correctly formatted, with the expected result.


I have to export most of my writing to HTML, to publish online for work and personal projects. Markdown editors typically do this exceptionally well. I also like minimalism when writing so using a word processor with loads of distractions while working makes me end up focusing on layout rather than getting work done.

I’ve been hearing the siren song of iA Writer, especially the by-sentence focus mode. (Like I need another app.)


This is also available in Ulysses, by the way. I thought I’d use it but for some reason I found I preferred the wider-view paragraph-focus option instead (which is available on many writing apps - also including Ulysses).

One advantage of Ulysses is that you can have sentence/paragraph/line focus simultaneously with typewriter-mode; IA Writer lets you have a focus mode or typewriter mode, not both.

More, Ulysses lets you have variable typewriter mode: when on, you can scroll the active line of sheet to wherever you want (not stuck to the dead-center of the screen), and the sheet will stay right where you put it as you type.


As @provuejim stated above, Markdown allows writers of web content to write HTML tags without the headaches.

I’ve been reading the praises of Ulysses for a couple years, so I finally downloaded a copy last weekend. It’s really a marvelous text editing app with a lot of features. The downside is it’s just another expensive subscription and there are so many other good non-subscription text editors for much less money that do almost all the things that Ulysses does.

I’ve used Byword for years, but it has gone unsupported for awhile. My new favorite is IA Writer. It does almost everything Ulysses does except for style sheets, which for my money isn’t worth the cost.

For web content — Markdown in a text editor
Content to be printed — Word processor
If PDF — Markdown in a text editor exported to Marked 2


I have 1.1 million words (my own and 25 years of reading notes) in Ulysses which I can search instantaneously, and document links and a URL scheme that work on Mac and iOS. Byword and everything else that relies on the file system can’t offer that. That’s worth the cost of a subscription for me.


You do need another app. :grin:

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What interests me in iA Writer is the transcluding you can do to insert images or text from other files.

I very much dislike Ulysses’ MarkdownXL. I wish they would offer MultiMarkdown, my flavor of choice.

Has anyone considered Sublime Text or BBEdit? They can offer some really powerful tools for text. I’m playing with them now. I want to use regex and learn Python for text manipulation, especially long-form writing or thousands of files.


Before text/Markdown apps arrived I used BBEdit for more than a decade, never for Markdown (though I could, since I also own Marked2 which could show me output). I’m perfectly fine with MarkdownXL; Ulysses uses MarkdownXL as it’s internal format, but what’s shown on the screen is plain-old vanilla markdown.

If you really like or need MultiMarkdown, just use MultiMarkdown Composer, which is a pretty good app and a free download (with a $15 ‘standard’ upgrade unlock if you like the lite version). I prefer the considerable additional benefits built into Ulysses (including its ability to use your choice of Markdown, MarkdownXL, Textile or Minimark), and I am not personally missing anything with MarkdownXL. I love the power and stability of BBEdit but it will never be as focused a writer’s app as other apps out these days, so I migrated.

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I use Sublime Text for Markdown when on the Mac. It works pretty well. The only thing I would say is when I generate HTML from it it adds a load of clutter, including <article> elements and CSS. Because one of my main targets is my blog I want neither of those.

(I’m probably missing some customisation.)

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I’ve only ever owned the iOS versions of Ulysses. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Given that it’s free to download, and will probably solve your problems, perhaps you should try it before you go bashing the software in a public forum.


From my iPad


Byword has just been updated for iOS 13 :grinning:.

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You can create your own template (theme) for iA Writer:

Not the last time I looked. It wouldn’t show me links in plain markdown format but rather shortened them to its own green-boxed gibberish and these wouldn’t export/publish correctly.

I bought it because it was touted as “incredible” by so many pundits I respected and it promised so much. I had high hopes for it. Those hopes were dashed and I found I’d made an expensive mistake.

This is such a long thread that I’m not sure if this has been mentioned before. :slight_smile:

One thing I’m appreciating is the ability to sprinkle in a smattering of HTML features.

For example the abbr element - to create flyover definitions.

Another one is that it is possible to add strike through using the appropriate HTML element.

Now, how the various Markdown processors react to this is another matter. I’m not sure how well eg 1Writer does.

(My own Markdown processor handles abbr and strike through now, but most HTML it can’t handle.)

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