# Reviewing Typora, My New Favorite Markdown Editor

Janne Kemppainen |

The title might already give away my opinion on Typora so let me start by saying it again. Typora is my favorite Markdown editor, period. With that out of the way let’s continue on with the why.

I want to start with a little bit of background. I’ve built this website with a static site generator called Hugo which basically eats content files as Markdown and spits out a bunch of HTML files that can easily be hosted on the Internet. I’ve actually written a whole series of blog posts on starting a blog with Hugo, check out my latest tutorial if you’re interested in learning more about starting a static blog.

So, because of my chosen blogging technology I’m spending quite some time writing content in Markdown. Therefore it’s quite important for my sanity to make the process as painless as possible. Markdown is not so difficult to read on its own but still reading and editing properly formatted text à la Microsoft Word is just that much more satisfying.

So what does Typora exactly do then that pleases my eye so much? It is an inline WYSIWYG editor for Markdown that renders the content as I’m typing it. If I add a new heading with a bunch of # characters it will actually look like a heading. Similarly having italic or bold text just shows the final result without displaying the asterisks.

Right now the software is in free beta which means that you can use it for free. There is no information on when the beta phase will end though so be prepared to pay sometime in the future. Personally, I’d be happy to support the development if they end up going with a one time payment model instead of a subscription.

## Support for Hugo

For me the killer feature of Typora is the typora-root-url configuration parameter. This means that I can easily use it to write my blog posts whose images are in a completely different directory.

Static site generators typically use a piece of configuration at the top of the file, usually written in the YAML format. This is called the front matter. I can add the relative path of the image root directory to the front matter of a blog post like this:

typora-root-url: ../../../static


If I then include an image in the post Typora will be able to render it properly.

![My image](/images/blog/2020/04/my-image.png)


This feature alone makes the whole writing process so much nicer as I can actually see my images!

However, there is one limitation when using the editor with Hugo: shortcodes are not supported. Hugo has these snippets of Go HTML templates that can be included in the content files to add complex elements to the page. For example the highlight shortcode can be used to show code snippets and the figure shortcode adds images using the HTML5 figure class.

The figure shortcode is not that bad, the image just won’t be visible and the text will just look something like this:

{{< figure src="image.jpg" title="My image" >}}


The highlight shortcode on the other hand.. Highlight is basically Hugo’s own version of code fences with some additional features. Whatever piece of program code you want to be highlighted needs to be put between starting and ending tags, and because Typora doesn’t understand the context it will try to render it as Markdown which looks more or less bad.

Luckily using code fences and the native Markdown images work well enough for me so that I don’t have to use those shortcodes. However, reading and editing my older blog posts can be a bit tiring when they contain lots of shortcodes.

## Export to various formats

You can use the export functionality to convert your writing to PDF, HTML, Word document, RTF, Epub, LaTeX, etc. The first two conversions are built in to the editor but for other formats you need to have the Pandoc document converter installed.

So you could for example write your home assignments in Markdown and submit them as PDF files when you’re done.

## Other Markdown editors

There seems to be so many Markdown editors to choose from and here I have listed only some of them. I haven’t tried them all so they are here only as a reference.

### iA Writer

iA Writer is a commercial application for Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad and Android. They offer a free trial so there is no risk trying them out. It seems to be nice and simplistic with a separate preview window.

### Mark Text

Mark Text is a WYSIWYG Markdown editor like Typora but it is fully free and open source software. As of this writing it has 15.6k stars on GitHub so it definitely has a community behind it. The lack of the typora-root-url style image handling keeps me from really using it.

I know this problem would be solved by using the Hugo page bundles where the images are located in the same directory with the blog entry but I prefer my current workflow right now.

### Markdown Editor (VS Code plugin)

Markdown Editor is a plugin for Visual Studio code which provides syntax highlighting and live preview. If you’re already using VS Code then using a plugin instead of a standalone app could be the best option for you.

## Conclusion

In conclusion, I find Typora to be a very convenient Markdown editor that has certainly improved my writing experience. I’m quite sure I’ll be buying it when it gets out of beta if the price is right.