Suggestion: editing markdown documents

I very much like the way in which markdown documents behave in DEVONthink To Go – there is a very natural way of switching between displaying them with formatting and editing them as plain-text. (In fact, this is superior to the behaviour of the desktop version of DEVONthink.) However, the process of editing a markdown document is made much more cumbersome by the fact that Apple’s default keyboard makes it time-consuming to get to the various symbols one needs to use (asterisks, underscores, and so forth). Some other iOS applications that are designed for working with markdown put these symbols in an additional bar that floats above the keyboard and allows for immediate access, without switching to the various additional keyboards containing these other symbols. Could you perhaps add something similar to DEVONthink To Go?

Thank you for this suggestion. Noted.

(Not to discourage this effort by any means, but there is an iOS keyboard that adds some markdown markup — personally I prefer being able to use a different keyboard and have access to handy markup symbols so I’d rather have it in-app, but just throwing it out there as an alternative for people in a bind now.

I don’t know if the keyboard I saw worked on iPhone and iPad, I think it may be iPhone-only because I recently looked for some alternative keyboards on my iPad and only came up with a couple.)

Do you know the name of this third-party keyboard?

I would love to have a global css file for markdown on DEVONthink Mac/ios. It would let me add the perfect touch to my notes to make them far more readable on my small phone screen.

Textastic has the best bar ever for all text editing and for writing markdown. The next best thing would be having DEVONthink be able to be a file location so I can use Textastic or run a webdav server like Working Copy. Textastic can open entire directories from working copy and add them to its file locations. I use this feature to add in the directories I’m currently working in so I can then go in like its apart of Textastic’s filesystem to edit etc my files. Its almost like Working Copy became my finder for all git related projects and I just simply go to Textastic to go and edit them. (this does a far better job than pages which only lets you go in and dig around to open a document.)

Perhaps The devs can contact the developer on how to implement this solution instead of recreating its functions, DEVONthink can become the iOS best finder/database software for notes etc and let the user use their favorite program editor for modifying the files.

This might be a better solution then trying to make the application being able to edit everything reasonably well, with the massive upkeep of feature bloat and allow it to focus being a database like the Mac software. It just needs to be one of the best file viewers.

I should have known that someone would ask — there are two for me on my iPhone in the US App Store:

  • Markdown Keyboard (Lau Brothers LLC)
  • Extend (Mishima Design)

I can’t vouch for either of them because I haven’t used them. Most apps I have that use it well (Editorial for iOS, Day One for iOS — hell even Tumblr IIRC) have an embedded keyboard addition that pops up on the keyboard.

I prefer overall the in-app method used by most apps that want to do Markdown because then it lets me use a different keyboard still without losing anything. e.g. I don’t know that I’d like having to switch to Markdown Keyboard as an input keyboard since it would mean losing the ease of one-handed typing from Wordflow (Microsoft) or quick access to all available unicode symbols and emoticons via Symbolay (the only Unicode keyboard app that I could find out of literally dozens that weren’t full of ads and nightmare UIs).

I used to use Fleksy quite a bit, but I got skittish when Pinterest of all people bought it. I loved the swipe-swipe delete word gesture in Fleksy, too.

Sorry for the parenthetical.

Sorry for butting in again but I did want to provide an example of an in-app markup editing toolbar that I love: Ulysses!

This is an iCloud shared album with three screenshots from an iPhone running Ulysses — note the cursor control is there along with fencing markup and in-line markup menus. It’s a different approach than many editors use where they end up making users swipe through a single bar.

I rather like this one a lot and wouldn’t hate it at all if DEVONthink had something similar. My personal preference, at any rate, I’m sure it’s not for everybody:

You can use Textastic for editing text documents stored in DTTG today. When you send a document to Textastic, DTTG adds a number to its name. When you send the document back to DTTG without changing the document’s name, this number allows DTTG to identify the document. It then replaces the copy in its database instead of adding the document to the global inbox.

Dear Eric,

I want to join others in their request for an improved keyboard experience, and I strongly second Miwagner1’s opinion that Textastic’s accessory key row is by far the best solution. A single extra row topbar can give us over fifty (!) additional keys, always visually in front of us, always available. Several other, mostly non-American apps, have already adopted it, such as Wonder Writer, Adnotatus, Scriptus, Kodiak for PhP, and maybe some others.

As far as I know this particular key row is actually open source software, freely available. A couple of years ago I contacted Kodiak software but they did not seem to be interested to develop or sell the product. I guess it is up for grabs. You can see the keyboard at or contact them at info@becomekodiak.

It works very simply. One tap produces the character in the middle of the key, just like on the regular keyboard. A swipe, or even better, a tap-hold-swipe, in the direction of the symbol in one of the four corners of the key, produces that symbol. So each key is really five keys. In my experience the plain swipe is not totally reliable but the hold-swipe works perfectly 100% of the time. Totally unexpectedly, this works on the phone’s small screen as well.

But the killer would be to make it customizable (as it already was in a Chinese app called Heart Writer, no longer in the App Store). Users could set the extra 40-50 symbols according of their needs (language, coding, html, mathematics, you name it). Needless to say, this extra key row could include navigation arrow keys, a tab, undo-redo, smart keys for paired punctuation, date stamps, perhaps even macros, etc. The possibilities are endless. Just imagine in one keyboard all the necessary letters for both English and German and for one’s specialty, no need to change keyboards. A much smoother workflow is what you get. I think this would make DTTG top of the class in this respect (text entry) as well.

In the meantime, until DTTG does something, there are several apps that come with an excellent, customizable extra key row. I know of Notebooks, Scrivener, Nebulous Notes, Textilus, UX Write, Ulysses, Editorial, and some others.

As far as total keyboard replacements are concerned the best it seems is one called PadKeys. Requires no full access, seems to work well, tries to reproduce the full physical keyboard but for the iPad only. Another one is called Path Input. I have no experience with Path, would be grateful to hear about others’ experiences.