Request for a more appealing writing environment

I took MWeb out for a spin. Seems very similar to iaWriter. What do you like about it?

MWeb is a decent markdown editor. I used it before because it supports LaTex, Markdown graphics such as mermaid, External folder, Image upload service, and Publish functions.

Currently I am using Obsidian as my 3rd markdown editor. It has better bi-link than DT.

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Another vote for a hybrid source view, with basic ability to customise the look. My ideal scenario would be to have Devonthink markdown look the same as Ulysses markdown, so that I carry the same visual cues between my two most oft-used programs.


Just as a side note: MD itself never looks like anything but pure text. What looks like something is MD rendered as HTML. Though that sounds like nitpicking, it is the key to your requirement: you can simply set up a CSS that specifies the look of the rendered HTML. In DT, there’s even a global setting for that (which unfortunately does not get carried over to DDTG). Alternatively, you could provide a link to your CSS at the top of the MD document.

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Chrillek - I know that md is txt, but I was using shorthand among people who I assumed know what I mean. I’m referring to the md writing environment. The HTML view of my md docs is shaped by CSS that I cribbed from somewhere and adjusted to my taste. The raw markdown view is just text, though, and I’m used to writing in md in Ulysses and other apps that provide what I think has been called “semantic markup”. I like it, and I’d like DT’s raw markdown editor to use it and not be quite so raw.
I appreciate that the devs have a long list of other priorities, and this is probably a looong way down the list, if it’s on the list. I just lobbed in my comment in support of it being on the list.

You’re aware that you can use this same CSS in DT as well, aren’t you? I found that this works reasonably well, probably because DT uses the same WebView as Safari.


I was aware of this, but I’ve chosen to have a separate CSS for DT. In Ulysses, I produce words to be read by others. In DT, the words are only read by me. I find that different styling helps define those different purposes.

I don’t write content in DT. I use Emacs (macOS) and iA Writer (macOS & iOS). I think they are calmer and both in their own way more powerful for writing than DT.

I’m not sure whether DT should try to compete. The integration of Indexed Folders gives users the choice of the writing front end. - Maybe just focus on the data management part in DT, incl seeking the best possible Indexed-Folder experience!

@halloleo those are great thoughts but I never suggested DT try to compete with dedicated writing apps; only to make writing in DT more palatable and an acceptable option for those (like myself) who want to use one app for all stages of content development.

Indexing isn’t required to open files in external applications.

My $.02: @BLUEFROG I suspect to many, if not most, people here you are a representative of the company. So is @cgrunenberg. End of story. You even have a special DEVONtechnologies marker on your profile icon. When I see support staff of other companies in their forums they are there are representatives of the company, not sharing their personal opinions. So when you say “personally I hate X” what people are reading is “sorry no way”.

As a software developer I understand that every feature every user wants can’t be implemented. I also understand trends in software. Like it or not many will use DT as their writing environment and would like something that looks modern out of the box. The UI refresh I think has been great overall but the writing environment in DT looks like Mac in the 90s. For the Markdown environment specifically a set of nice themes (ala Marked 2) would be nice for the previewer. Its lovely that there is an option to specify whatever CSS file you want but I suspect for many users having to deal with CSS is just not going to happen. In my own experience with that just in the last couple of days I tried using the github css from Marked 2 only to not have fonts work properly. And when I did try to make updates I had to restart the application. Then I downloaded a simpler github css file from someone’s github repo and then the font choice in that file worked. I don’t know enough about CSS to debug that and don’t have the time. That’s a lot of ask of any user.

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Why not simply use a Markdown application that does what you want? Just asking.

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That question really has nothing to do with what I wrote and is a pretty lopsided attempt at dismissing what I did write.

Clearly one can use another Markdown application. I could ask in response why should I have to when I already paid good money for a tool that has multiple forms of entering text? They provide the tools and some users are asking for some updates. If they didn’t provide the tools this would all be moot.

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honest question. I was not intending to challenge you so did not. You chose to disparage rather than answer directly. Oh well.

I for one hope that DEVON Technologies do not get into the word/text processing app business. So many apps already there. Of if they do, make it optional at extra cost unless their investment and support costs to do so are very, very small.

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Between share sheet functions, “Open with” capability, smart rules, indexing, and scripting capability, the ability for DT3 at present to integrate with other text editors or word processors is immense. I don’t see any reason for them to re-invent the wheel. Let them focus on what they uniquely do best.


I don’t know if you are a native English speaker. I am so I’m going to point out, at least where I’m from, that question was totally loaded and makes you sound like you think you’re superior and being dismissive. And again, your question had absolutely nothing to do with what I wrote.

The answer to your question, which I answered anyhow, is obvious: of course someone could use an external editor. My point to you was there is no reason someone should need to use an external editor. Its like asking someone who uses an IDE for coding who wants updates to the editor “why not simply use an external editor?”. Your solution to the problem is to not only use an external editor but also an external previewer for a nice theme vs having the DT guys provide some nice CSS themes out of the box? It’s not mine except for a short-term solution.

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Apples and some other fruit, I think. DT is a document management system. Where it to provide editing capabilities for all documents it manages (and you cannot seriously prevent RTF/PDF/HTML users from wanting what you want for markdown), it would become an unwieldy behemoth. Let’s not forget that some people store source code in DT. Maybe it should become an IDE? Integrate a debugger?
English is not my native language.


Reading through this thread, there are some nicely worded requests, some additional explanations of those requests, and Jim’s response:

There are those voicing concerns as to whether DT can, in the broadest sense, afford to adapt the quality of its writing tools, pointing out that writing is not the immediate main focus of DT.

There can be no doubt that both camps have valid opinions. That it is a user’s right to point out areas of possible optimisation; that other users are also within their rights to voice concerns regarding where DT directs its energy. None of us actually get to make the decisions though.

DT are aware of the requests (as per Jim’s response). Continuing the discussion may be useful even so - but please be civil :slight_smile: it’s a nice place here, let’s keep it that way :slight_smile:


Too many on this thread have misinterpreted a request for a “more attractive writing environment” as a suggestion that DT somehow put resources into creating a full-on word processor (or MD editor). No such thing was ever suggested.*

As creator of this thread, I’d like to point out (again) that absolutely no suggestion was made for anything more that a few simple tweaks to the writers view of RTF and other documents, not their output. This would make DT a more appealing place to write so people like myself could avoid using external editors.

I understand that some on here want to dismiss this suggestion by saying I (we) could use an external editor. To all of you… I’m glad that works for you but it doesn’t work for me. I don’t have the will or mindshare to learn different programs to accomplish a task one program should be good at. Is this really too much to ask for?

The only essential change (for me) would be generous white space between the edge of the document’s ruler and the edge of the window (including the top of the document) but there are endless ways DT could make the writer’s view more attractive without much programming effort.

After the big version 3 refresh, DevonThink is close to what I and others here would like to see… a single app that isn’t just powerful but a pleasure to use. It only needs a few tweaks not ‘reinvention of the wheel’.


That is actually a worry for me: removing functions is one possible way forward when users are unhappy with what is available. The way I see it (specifically only responding to this one point, whilst acknowledging that you made several more) is that DT excels at it’s main functions, and offers a couple more things at base level. I (and I speak only for myself) am happy for it to stay that way, as I acknowledge that the egg laying wool milk pig (yeah, that’s German) often doesn’t fulfil anybody’s needs. However, I don’t spend much time writing in DT, so of course I am biased. And yes, if I did spend more time doing so, I’d probably add a butterfly or something to my sea shell.

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