Better Markdown in VS Code

solomon.io solomon.io3 years ago in #Apps Love268

This entire post was written using Markdown in Visual Studio Code. That may seem a bit ridiculous. However, with a few tweaks VS Code can become an excellent tool for writing. Writing in VS Code doesn’t have the features of Ulysses, the Syncing of Bear App or the polish of IA Writer. It doesn’t have a mobile app. However, it is free and the experience is quite good. If you’re considering a new Markdown editor, it is worth a try—especially if you’re an engineer. The trigger for me was a new work computer. My old 2015 Macbook Pro couldn’t hold a charge. Previously, I had Typed, a now discontinued product from RealMac Software. It was fine until it began playing zen music on startup—an odd feature for a text editor. Despite my effort to disable it, I could not fix this issue. I needed a new Markdown editor. Unfortunately, dealing with the Mac App store is a giant pain on work computers. That ruled out a lot of options. I tried many free tools, but none of them felt like a decent writing option. There were tons of bad fonts, contrast or typesetting. Then I decided to see if I could wrangle VS Code into a decent writing experience. It’s pretty customizable, right? I was pleasantly surprised. About Visual Studio Code If you’re not an engineer, Visual Studio Code is a text editor. It’s what many engineers at my company, SalesLoft, use to create software. Don’t let that scare you though. It’s an excellent tool for writing. First you’ll need to Download VS Code from Microsoft. It’s free for Mac and Windows. Once you do that, we’ll install extensions and tweak a few settings. Extensions Extensions in VS Code are similar to browser extensions. They are little pieces of software that enhance another app. I’ve listed the extensions we need below. To begin installing them you can click the blocks icon in the bottom of the navigation bar or you can hit CMD + Shift + X. This should open an extension search bar. Simply search for the ones below and hit the green install button when you find it. Alternatively, clicking install from the links should prompt you to open and install the extension in VS Code. Markdown All in One is a requirement for anyone that wants to write in Markdown. The extension adds keyboard shortcuts, sane formatting for tables of contents and lists, Markdown tables and a few other enhancements. Code Spell Checker catches common spelling mistakes. It’s useful since VS Code does not have spellcheck installed by default. The implementation is a little strange—a light bulb appears above the paragraph with an issue. However, it didn’t take long to get used to, and even the best writers need spellcheck. An interesting side effect of this type of spell check is that I try and guess the correct spelling of the word instead of right clicking and selecting the first option. Maybe this is a good interaction in the long run? Word Count adds a small word counter when working in a Markdown file. Helpful, but not required. Wanted: A Hemingway-like extension. Hemingway is a decent editor with one killer feature. It highlights complex sentences, passive voice and suggests phrases with simpler alternatives. I would love something like this for VS Code. Ideally, the feature can be toggled with a shortcut. Settings Once you’ve installed VS code and the related extensions, we’ll tweak the settings to improve the writing experience. To get to the settings tab hit CMD + , or click the cog icon in the…

Like to keep reading?

This article first appeared on solomon.io. If you'd like to keep reading, follow the white rabbit.

View Full Article

Leave a Reply