Markdown is a widely used markup language, which is now not only used for creating documentation or notes but also for creating static websites (using Hugo or Jekyll). It is supported by major sites like GitHub, Bitbucket, GitLab, Stack Exchange, and Reddit.
Markdown follows a simple easy-to-read and easy-to-write plain text formatting syntax. By just using non-alphabetic characters like asterisk (*), hashtag (#), backtick (`), or dash (-), you can format text as bold, italics, lists, headings, tables and so on.
Now, to write in Markdown, you can choose any Markdown applications available for Windows, macOS, and Linux desktop. You can even use web-based in-browser Markdown editors like StackEdit. But if you’re specifically looking for the best Markdown editor for Linux desktop, I present you two Markdown editors: Mark Text and Typora.
I’ve also tried other popular Markdown apps available for Linux platforms such as Joplin, Remarkable, ReText, and Mark My Words. But the reason I chose Mark Text and Typora is the seamless live preview features with distraction free user interface. Unlike other Markdown editors, these two do not have a dual panel (writing and preview window) interface, which is why I find both the most distinguishable applications among others.
Before I start discussing the extensive dissimilarities between Typora and Mark Text, let me briefly tell you the common features that both of them offer.
Similarities Between Mark Text And Typora
- Real time preview
- Export to HTML and PDF
- GitHub Flavored Markdown
- Inline styles
- Code and Math Blocks
- Support for Flowchart, Sequence diagram
- Light and Dark Themes
- Source Code, Typewriter, and Focus mode
- Auto save
- Paste images directly from clipboard
- Available for Linux, macOS, and Windows
Differences Between Mark Text And Typora
If you’re a beginner and using non-Debian Linux distribution, you may find it difficult to install Typora. This is because Typora is packaged and tested only on Ubuntu, hence, you can install it easily on Debian-based distros like Ubuntu and Linux Mint by using commands or Debian packages, but not on other distros like Arch, or Void, where you’ve to build from binary packages for which official command is also not available.
While if you want Mark Text, Linux distributions does not matter as its package is available in Debian, RPM, and Appimage format. As most of the Linux distros already support the universal package manager, Flatpak, you can also install Mark Text directly from the Flathub repository.
Free and Open Source
As of now, both applications are freely available to download and use. But, for Typora, you may have to pay in future as the site indicates “Free during beta.”
And speaking of open source, it may not matter for some people, but for those who find “being an open source” a choosing factor (like me), they may go for open source Mark Text over the proprietary Typora. It’s not to mention but you know that for Mark Text (being open source), you can demand, or write code on your own for whatever features you want.
Similar but different
If you use both applications, you may agree with me that both of them are almost similar. But surely they do differ with one having the features other don’t such as Outline Panel in Typora, and Unsplash tab in Mark Text to search and insert photo.
As I also talked with Mark Text Creator Ran Luo, this is what he says:
“They are similar but there is still some difference between the two Markdown Editors, Mark Text is focusing on writing efficiency, so we have `Front Menu` after you type a `@` at the beginning of a new paragraph. you can see a menu of different type of blocks which you can insert into your document, for example, the quote block, table, flowchart. Mark Text also has an inline toolbox, a toolbox will be shown above text after you selected some words. consequently, we can easily add the inline format to the selected words.”
In case of theme, Typora has a complete edge over Mark Text. Currently, Mark Text offers only six themes including three light and three dark.
While Typora has a separate Theme Gallery containing a large collection of custom themes. Even, you can fully configure the themes in Typora by CSS.
Under the hood, Typora relies on third-party universal document converter Pandoc to provide import and export functions for several file formats including docx, odt, rtf, epub, LaTeX, pdf, and HTML. While Mark Text only lets you export into HTML and PDF, but do use Pandoc for import function.
Now, based on similarities and dissimilarities between Typora and Mark Text (including your personal experience as well), you may decide which one do you think best Markdown editor for Linux distros.
Personally, I’m now stuck with Mark Text, even though I found Typora to have more features than the Mart Text editor. This is because I support and engage in the open source community. Hence, if an app possesses a “free and open source” tag, I most probably go for it if it satisfies my need to a minimum adjusting level.
Here, both apps also lack some features that I need the most like synchronizing data between multiple devices. So, as of now, I use the `rsync` tool to sync my data and then use Mark Text for formatting.
I also won’t be surprised if you think none of them can be your next editor as you might be looking for an editor that supports multi account features. If it is so, then let me tell you that Mark Text creator Ran Luo has already added a feature to let multiple people edit the same document at the same time from different devices in his top priorities list, which also include Internationalization and custom themes.
So, the decision is all yours based on your need and personal experience.