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I’ve seen a lot spoken on various places online, such as MacStories and more recently in #iPadOnly, about Byword so I thought it was about time I give it a go, both on iOS and OSX as I’m a keen user of Markdown.

Byword Mac

Byword focuses on simplicity and minimalism and offers you a blank screen to get started. Digging into the options lets you view the meagre amount of settings, something I was after. I was doubtful in considering a move away from Textastic due to the syntax highlighting of Textastic and the ability to use my own font. Based on the iOS version, I was therefore surprised to find that I could use my own font on the OSX version and so that removed a “flaw” I thought that I’d have with the software. That, and the very basic syntax highlighting (the difference between the two can be seen in Figure 1).

Figure 1 - Markdown in Byword and Textastic

However, I’ve been getting on fine with it over the past week. This is down to a number of reasons. Firstly, the typewriter feature is a massively underrated feature of word editors in my opinion. It’s not to everyone’s taste but I like being able to keep my eyes on the centre of the screen as I type. Having it in Byword makes things so much nicer.

Whilst I was initially sceptical about having a separate Markdown editor, I’ve found that this is in fact, a good move – mainly due to Keyboard Maestro. I’ve found that by moving my Markdown writing to a separate app, I can happily create a bunch of Markdown macros in Keyboard Maestro that might interfere with other editing I’m doing in Textastic for LaTeX or any other language I’m editing.

Whilst I found that the default Byword preview was pretty poor, it didn’t bother me for long as I changed the keyboard shortcut to launch Marked. I used the same key shortcuts but was reminded of this blog post stating that Keyboard Maestro intercepted the key presses before the program would so it launches Marked before Byword tries to preview it. Don’t get me wrong, the built in preview works and not to badly, it’s just that as I’ve changed my font, it uses that font for viewing and I prefer to preview it differently to how I’m writing it.

Byword iOS

Like most iOS text editors, it offers either Dropbox or iCloud file syncing and I’m a Dropbox editor fan (namely as I’m a keen user of Day One and found that syncs better in Dropbox). I’ve found a few times that it has problems syncing but these tend to__ be due to my intermittent 3G connection more than anything else.

Otherwise, the iOS version is almost identical than the OSX version.

Overall

Overall, I think Byword is a decent bit of software. I’ve not yet made the jump to buying the addon to allow for blog posting, but perhaps I should as I’m typing this in Byword, for posting on Tumblr.

Either way, if you have a Markdown writing app that you currently use, there’s probably nothing worth leaving it for in Byword. However, if you’ve not got an app you use, then Byword can easily fill that position for you.

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