There are a number of text editors available for ChromeOS — some for coding, some for note taking, and some for writing — both free and paid varieties. I recommend both Caret and Material Neutron for code and general text editing purposes.
However, for a nice, distraction-free Markdown editor I use Marxico. This one falls into the paid category — in fact, a yearly subscription model of \$15.99. Which is pretty steep as far as I’m concerned. And yet, I paid for it anyway, and I’ll probably renew in a few months when the current year expires. Why? We’ll come back this later.
Markdown editor for Evernote
Marxico is a Markdown editor which offers a live side-by-side preview of your Markdown content (scroll synced). It was designed as a Markdown editor for Evernote and thus stores/syncs your notes to your Evernote account where they appear as rich HTML notes. It does not open/save/sync files on the local filesystem or google drive, although it does offer an export of single notes. Un-synced notes are maintained in browser storage, which is reasonably reliable, but if you are working offline for any length of time, consider regularly exporting your work as Markdown just to be safe.
Marxico has a list of features that make it a useful Markdown editor:
- Numerous editor themes to choose from
- Github flavored Markdown
- LaTeX math expressions
- Fenced code blocks,
- UML sequence and flowchart diagrams
- Integrated with Evernote (with notebook and tag support:
- Add custom CSS for the preview
- vim or emacs key-bindings
- You can have multiple Marxico windows open (so you can side-by-side edit)
In addition to the side-by-side Markdown/Preview view, you can also switch to just the Markdown editor or just a full pane Preview. Going full-screen with the editor view gives a centered column of text with ample margins — this works well as a distraction free mode. For example, a view while drafting this post (using the IdleFingers editor theme):
Clicking the little notebook symbol in the upper left (or Ctl-O) slides in the document management panel from the left, where you can select a note to open in the editor. The avatar icon (or Ctl-M) in the upper right brings in the Menu panel from the right where you can delete, export, or preview the current note, access the settings, or get help. The remaining icons along the top, moving to the left are: New Document, Sync, Toggle side-by-side preview, Themes, Insert Image (hovering over this one, brings up further shortcut icons for inserting markup for: horizontal rule, headings, code sample, block-quote, url, and bold text).
One thing to be aware of is that while notes you create in Marxico sync directly to Evernote, they aren’t editable within Evernote. This is because Marxico sends the rich HTML content to Evernote with the original Markdown embedded (in a
display:none element) and Evernote has no knowledge of this embedded content. Instead, it is flagged as read-only and a red tag/ribbon is displayed on your formatted note in Evernote. Clicking on this ribbon will take you back to Marxico to edit the note (this means you can’t edit such notes on other devices which don’t have Marxico installed).
I’ve tried many Markdown editors on ChromeOS, and while many are perfectly functional, none have suited my tastes as well as Marxico.
Don’t get me wrong, Marxico has some serious failings:
- It can’t save/sync to the local filesystem or google drive, only to Evernote
- It can’t export whole notebooks (only single notes at a time in Markdown, HTML, or PDF format)
- Search/replace is currently not working in the Chrome-app (but is in the web-app)
- No spell check in the Chrome-app
- It is not open sourced (so no one can add/fix such features)
- and it is expensive.
On the other hand, I was able to write a quick ruby script (on one of my local linux servers) that uses the Evernote API to fetch all my Evernote notebooks, and then extracts and writes the Markdown content of each note to a directory structure that mirrors the notebook structure. Thus, the lack of a built-in bulk export or local sync is less of an issue as I can at least manually sync my notebooks down to a local server whenever necessary.
Even with the above mentioned faults, Marxico remains my goto app for notes and drafting. It has a unique combination of aesthetics and functionality that helps me get into and stay in the flow — and that’s why I plan on paying up when my current subscription expires.