After a long sojourn away, I return with a new, geeky post.
I've noticed that I'm increasingly making use of Markdown notation on my iPhone. There are several great apps that now natively support Markdown and this speeds up my ability to create neatly formatted, format-agnostic text. If you have no idea why this is useful, you should probably move on to another fun post (like this one < shameless plug). In case you really, really want to know, there's a short explanation here. Also, if you decide you like it, you can pick up a handy-dandy PDF Markdown Cheat Sheet here.
Some of the iOS apps I've found to be very useful when combined with Markdown are: Nebulous Notes and VoodooPad for iOS (do not confuse with VoodooPad Reader!). Another app that I've had for a while but am trying to leverage more and more is TextExpander Touch. The idea behind this app is simple, it allows you to store all sorts of 'snippets' to which you can assign handy abbreviations. When you type in the abbreviation, it replaces it with the snippet! If you do a lot of repetitive typing on an iOS keyboard (especially when you have to reach for those punctuation symbols), you'll quickly understand how this might save you some hassle. If you have TextExpander for the Mac, you can synchronize snippets between your computer and your iOS devices via DropBox or the local network. Awesome, right?
Now, one thing I've been missing is that when I write Markdown, certain bits of syntax are painstaking to write, like
[inline link name](http://link "optional text"). All those brackets and parentheses are really annoying on an iOS keyboard.
I've been hoping for someone to come up with a group of Markdown snippets for TextExpander that I could use but the only one I could find, by a Markdown guru, does some excellent things and gave me some very useful ideas (thank you , Brett!) but didn't meet all my needs. Specifically, a lot of the abbreviations he used still require one to shift to the 'symbols keyboard' on an iOS device. I want to be able to stay on the letters keyboard. As a result, all the abbreviations in my version of the TextExpander group are prefixed with the letter 'x', a letter that generally doesn't get a lot of use in the English language.
With my Markdown TextExpander snippets I can now, for instance, type
xlnk and have the text replaced with
(link in clipboard) with the link I'd copied to the clipboard inserted and the cursor placed neatly between the square brackets ready to start typing! You can download the TextExpander file here. If you would like to import it directly into your iOS TextExpander Touch app, you can use the “Add group from URL” function in TextExpander Touch using the following URL (tinyURL to my dropbox share to make typing on your iOS device a bit less painful!):
Naturally, the same group will also just work on TextExpander for the Mac, but the choice of abbreviations was largely calibrated for convenience on iOS.
You're welcome (again).
p.s. if you decide to get serious about Markdown on your Mac, check out Brett Terpstra's awesome Markdown aid: Marked.