SimpleMark Version 1.3 Now Available

Welcome to Version 1.3 of SimpleMarkPPC, the world’s “PowerPC only” MarkDown app for Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5.

Version 1.3 makes significant changes to the app. After years of being frustrated with the AutoSave feature, which worked but produced occasional bizarre bugs like missing letters as you typed, I removed it completely. Now, each time you hit save, which you should do frequently if you want to protect your work, the MarkDown preview displays on the right.

In addition, the app will now open and save to .TXT and .MD files from the get go. I can add future filename extensions of choice easily.

This app is dead simple. You can adjust your font preferences in the Preferences window. It runs your text through an older version of multimarkdown (which can be found in the Resources folder within the app bundle if you want to mess around with it). You can still export to a variety of different file options and print a rather rough but serviceable Markdown copy to a printer if you want.

This app is serviceable. Newer Markdown apps out there do a lot more cool stuff, and I keep wondering if I could get one of them to run someday. In the meanwhile, this could work if you need to mess around with MarkDown files on your G4 or G5.

Download it now.

Remember, it’s still beta software, partly because I am relying on a 2009 version of Real Basic that has all kinds of quirks and also because I am sure there are other strange bugs that will crop up. Give me feedback.

— Nathan

SimpleMarkPCC updated to Version 1.2


Introducing SimpleMarkPPC Version 1.2

After some delay, I am tickled to release the newest version of SimpleMarkPPC. While the basic functionality remains the same, the app is greatly improved and a bit more configurable. Your preferences with font size, font type, and autosave features are now saved and restored. Autosave is indeed optional – if you like it, turn it on and adjust a little slider to control how quickly it kicks in. Or save manually, which might work better if you are conserving battery or prefer to get a preview of your work at your own pace.

I cleaned up a few other little bugs, though I’m sure something is going to crop up. I’d appreciate your feedback in the comments below.

You can grab it here.

— Nathan

Easy Programming with great frustration

In my search for an elegant MarkDown solution for my Power Mac G5, I have continued to dig into all kinds of options from fiddling with open source editors written in Python to building my own.

Programming on your G5 is actually pretty straightforward.

I remember the first Power Mac G4 I got my hands on at a previous IT job many years ago. As I was studying computer science at the time, my first action was to jump into terminal and see if “gcc” was really included by default. And sure enough, every Mac comes with a standard open source compiler. Cool!

Of course, if you want to build something beyond a simple command line app, you’ll need bigger and better tools. The best is XCode, which you could typically install as an extra from your Leopard DVD. You can still grab XCode 3.1.1 from the Apple Developer site here. You will have to log in.

There are other options too.

One of my preferred options over the years was Real Basic. Today, it’s called Xojo, since it really has nothing to do with the BASIC programming language that some of us encountered years ago. Real Basic was an interesting tool because it let you start at the end of your coding process by building the GUI app first and then adding in the functionality you want to have happen. The code is also fairly readable and simpler than Objective C at the cost of a lot of potential fine tuning.

My first experience with Real Basic was with an academic version in my IT position. We needed an OS 8.6 compatible screen lock to have students log into lab computers with a pass phrase. I whipped one up in like 30 minutes using Real Basic.

On Leopard, I’ve used Real Basic to create game character generators and other basic text manipulating utilities in a pretty short amount of time. I’ve grown to like some of its features even as other things drive me nuts.

To bring this home, I decided to crank out a couple of MarkDown attempts using Real Basic. The last version to work on Power Macs is 2009R3. I first built some basic code that would automatically edit what you type into a rich text field and catch MarkDown formatting. While it sort of half worked, it was way too complicated after even just a few basic formatting commands.

SimpleMark Beta

I then used “brew” to install the ever useful multimarkdown command line utility which can take a text file with MarkDown formatting and turn it into a pdf, html file, or whatever. It’s a really great option for working with MarkDown. In Real Basic then, I created a simple window with a rich text field on one side and a live preview html window on the other. As you typed, the program would quickly use multimarkdown to generate preview html of your document. It was dead simple and started me down the path to a solution.

But then I hit a road block – whenever the live html preview updated, it would steal focus from the rich text field. No matter the workarounds I tried, there was no way around this. It turned out to be a bug that was eventually fixed in a later version of Real Basic, which won’t run on my machine.

This is life with older machines.

If you happen to have a license of Xojo/Real Basic, they will still let you download an access key and older copies of its software. I recommend it if you want to mess around with some simple prototype apps or invite a young person to learn some basic coding building blocks. But where you save time, you’ll ultimately also give up the ability to have an app do what you want it to do.

— Nathan

Markdown: Case Closed (For Now)

Hey, I promise I will stop posting about MarkDown.

In final news, the most obvious of solution presented itself – online MarkDown editors.

You will need a Power Mac G5 (or other PowerPC machine) with enough oomph to run TenFourFox. Once you have that though, you are good to go.

The first site I recommend is It is sleek, elegant, and quick. I have no problem writing in TenFourFox, and the web app lets you export to html, pdf, or even native markdown format. In the column on the left, you write our your code, story, or journal, and the left showcases your work with the appropriate formatting. I like it a lot. The PDF export looks particularly good. You can even integrate it with DropBox and other online repositories. I’m also curious about how you might save sessions across computers.

Another option is Markable, which is also pretty slick and fast. It might even be faster than Dillinger, but there is one downside – no PDF export. You can however export to html. It has a login system, so you can presumably setup a static sort of work environment across different computers.

StackEdit is another nice option that produces really pretty looking documents. On TenFourFox, it is a bit more sluggish though. It seems to have some nice options to create a persistent writing environment, but PDF export is a paid feature ($5/year).

One more – MarkDown Editor is the fastest in browser one I have found so far. It runs very smooth in TenFourFox and would probably run just as smooth on older G4s as well. It’s pretty simple too. There is only a single option to export to HTML, the look of the app is nowhere near as slick, but the thing flies.

There are appear to be others, so if you come across one that works great on your Mac, post it here in the comments so we can share the wealth.

For now, the case is closed. PowerPC machines do have options for MarkDown, offline or online. Now get to writing that great novel and/or code.

— Nathan

Another MarkDown option

My MarkDown search has led to one more possibility, until I can port or develop a more full-featured “Byword” type editor. It’s called TextMate, and it’s pretty decent.

If you need a good free text editor for coding projects, you can’t go wrong with TextWrangler as I suggest on this site. But TextMate is another great option, except that it is shareware. You can still purchase a license for it, maybe even get one free if you work in the academic field. I ended up with a license from an old MacHeist contest sometime ago, so I was excited to be able to give it another go.

The good news is that when you download version 1.5.10 for Tiger or Leopard, it comes with a MarkDown bundle pre-installed. As you write your MarkDown, you can pull up a nifty preview window with a few different styling options to see how your writing looks. You can then export it to html or possibly use other TextMate features to send it to a blogging engine of choice.

Text Mate Screenshot

There appears to be a newer version of the MarkDown bundle, but I am guessing it is only compatible for the newer beta version of TextMate, which is intel only. However, we at least have two legitimate options for writing using MarkDown for the time being. That’s better than nothing.

My mythical search is really for something more like Byword, less a text editor and more of a distraction free writing tool. Stay tuned.

— Nathan