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The world needs a good, sane in-browser editing component, one that edits document structure (headings, lists, quotes etc) rather than format (font, size etc). I’ve been thinking for a while that an editing component based around Markdown (or Commonmark) would be just the thing. Markdown/Commonmark is effectively a spec for the minimal sensible markup set for documents, it’s more than adequate for articles, theses, reports etc. And it can be extended with document semantics.

Anyway, there’s a crowdfunding campaign going on for an editor called ProseMirror that does just that, and promises collaborative editing as well. It’s beta quality but looks promising, I chipped in 50 Euros to try to get it over the line to be released as open source.

The author says:

Who I am

This campaign is being run by Marijn Haverbeke, author of CodeMirror, a widely used in-browser code editor, Eloquent JavaScript, a freely available JavaScript book, and Tern, which is an editor-assistance engine for JavaScript coding that I also crowd-funded here. I have a long history of releasing and maintaining solid open software. My work on CodeMirror (which you might know as the editor in Chrome and Firefox’s dev tools) has given me lots of experience with writing a fast, solid, extendable editor. Many of the techniques that went into ProseMirror have already proven themselves in CodeMirror.

There’s a lot to like with this editor - it has a nice floating toolbar that pops up at the right of the paragraph, with a couple of non-quite-standard behaviours that just might catch on. Mostly works, but has some really obvious bugs usability issues , like when I try to make a nested list it makes commonmark like this:

* List item
* List item
* * List item

And it even renders the two bullets side by side in the HTML view. Even thought that is apparently supported by commonmark, for a prose editor it’s just wrong. Nobody means two bullets unless they’re up to no good, typographically speaking.

The editor should do the thing you almost certainly mean. Something like:

* List item
* List item
  * List item

But, if that stuff gets cleaned up then this will be perfect for producing Scholarly Markdown, and Scholarly HTML. The $84 AUD means I’ll get priority on a reporting a bug, assuming it reaches its funding goal.


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