Put some matcha in your workflow
Just a couple months ago I think I fell in the Markdown cooking pot and have kept eating it since then. It all started with Notational Velocity. I installed it once but didn’t really understood what it was really all about. This may be due to its simplistic interface. It didn’t get all my attention and was uninstalled soon after.
A bit of history
A couple months later, if not a year later, I stumbled on Shawn Blanc website for the first time while looking for information related to “writing workflow” in general. After browsing the list of softwares he’s using I was shocked by how many of them I was also using. But working with them all together optimally is really a personal thing. We all have our own workflow, but looking at those of others is always a good idea. It allows you to confirm your choices, bring on some new elements, or simply tweak what you already have to maximise the potential and/or benefits. That’s exactly when I decided to take another (and closer) look at Notational Velocity, which brought me to nValt instead, along with a big wave of other tools: Simplenote, Marked, Ulysses, Byword, Mars Edit, etc. (I wrote about this process on previous posts. You can find them here and here) Then some more: Terminology, Phraseology, inevitably Drafts and finally Matcha, which is today’s topic. In this case Matcha is not green tea. Matcha is an iOS text editor with a graphical interface. You can write markdown easily and export to different formats like Plain or Formatted Text, and HTML code . If you write in markdown, this brings it one step further in simplicity.
And then Matcha came in
The day it was released as Matcha v2.0 (and previously named Wisdom Writer), I read somewhere that it was a real contender in the plain text editor market! right between iAWriter and Byword. Whoa!! Not too bad for a tool I had never heard of until now. Looking at it on the App Store (iOS only, no OSX version available) got me curious to learn more and visit their website. Everything looks good, the interface is clear, even tempting. It looks like Matcha makes writing in plain text a bit more exciting and so simple that anyone could generate markdown files in no time. You just click a button to had a link, or change the size of the text, it’s color, define a bullet list or quotation. It even makes it so easy to differentiate text vs code. All of this through a scrolling bar above the keyboard. Everything is well organized and intuitive. It even comes with themes to customise your working environment.
It ain’t perfect
On the downside, I didn’t like the fact that only two color themes were available unless you tweet (Twitter) or share (Facebook) to obtain the others ones. That’s something we see in free iOS games and I always run away from it. Anyways, in such a competitive market I think developers should give the best they can if they want they want their app to rank high and sell well. Requesting repetitive store reviews and/or forcing to tweet & share is a two-edge sword. For users, there are other options available and removing an app from a device is just one click away. For now, Matcha has only 2 themes for me. Hopefully they look great and I can do with them as it is.
Another thing that disappointed me, and unfortunately it’s a show stopper: footnotes are not supported yet. I thought I had found a bug after trying for hours to insert footnotes in Matcha, but alas, exchanging a few emails with their support people made it clear Matcha does not support footnotes as of today. However, they are working on it and it will be included in their next release. Still, it gave me the opportunity to test their support and they were very responsive. Kudos Joe!
Do we have a winner?
I’d say almost. Keeping in mind we all have different needs when looking for a text editor. For me it’s definitely an editor that fully supports markdown, or even multimarkdown. Matcha is not one of them for now, but is still a great tool to use. As it is right now, Matcha does not cover all my needs for a text editor (markdown) but it comes close and is a pleasure to use. The interface is great, it’s fast, the toolbar is very intuitive and saving options cover the essentials: locally, to iCloud and Dropbox. When it will support footnotes, the only thing I could think of as a request is a direct link to Terminology/Phraseology (I know, I’m a dreamer!). Oh maybe an OSX version too. And while I’m at it, why not some send-to options à la Drafts? Hmmmm.. That introduces the topic for my next post on Agile Tortoise (i.e. Greg Pierce) offer.
© Normand Primeau