Information about the upcoming MultiMarkdown Composer, version 3

(**NOTE:** This is a bit long, but worth reading -- especially if you are thinking about purchasing MultiMarkdown Composer but have not yet done so.)

At the very least, read "The Short Version".

The Short Version

  1. MultiMarkdown Composer for Mac, version 3, is in private beta, and soon will be in public beta for owners of v2.
  2. I don't have a definite time frame, but a reasonable guess is that v3 should be in public beta in February, and ready for release by March or April.
  3. Owners of MultiMarkdown Composer version 2 will be able to use 3.0 for free, but will have to purchase the new version to get upgrades after that.
  4. The price of MultiMarkdown Composer v2 will be reduced until the release of v3. This means that if you buy it now, and take advantage of the sale later, you should still end up paying roughly the same (I have not settled on exact prices yet, but my plan is for this to be true. This is not a guarantee, however.)
  5. Sometime after the launch of v3 in the App Store, I will announce a short sale. This will allow users who so desire to purchase v3 at an "upgrade price". Obviously, others can take advantage of this as well.
  6. The sale will be announced on the MultiMarkdown Software mailing list....
  7. ...We have a new mailing list -- sign up here.
  8. There will be a "Pro" version of MultiMarkdown Composer for Mac.
  9. The new code base has been used to rebuild the core of MultiMarkdown Composer for iOS. The old (unreleased) version of Composer for iOS just wasn't quite good enough, and never made it out of beta. Instead, the Mac version was rewritten and much improved. It's time to circle back around and work on the iOS app again.

MultiMarkdown Composer Version 3


It's been over three years since the first version of MultiMarkdown Composer was released to the public. I was proud of the first version when it was released. It offered many new features that weren't available in any other Markdown/MultiMarkdown editor (and many of those features still aren't available anywhere else.)

About a year later, however, a few things changed:

1) New technology was available within Mac OS that made new features possible (or at least more readily implemented)

2) I learned from the process and came up with better solutions to problems.

MultiMarkdown Composer v2 was better in just about every way. The code was more robust, faster, and easier to maintain. New features were added. The interface was updated. And the new framework paved the way for many innovations (such as support for CriticMarkup). I've been really proud of MultiMarkdown Composer v2, and think it remains the best Markdown/MultiMarkdown editor available.

What about Now?

In the nearly 3 years that I've been working on and refining version 2, I've learned a few more things, and Apple's OS offers a few more features. For the last 7+ months, I have been working on an entirely new codebase. The underlying code for MultiMarkdown Composer version 3 is quite different:

  • The handling/interpretation of MultiMarkdown syntax occurs at the level of the stored text, rather than just when the users makes changes. What this means is that there are fewer loopholes that have to be discovered and plugged to ensure that all features play together nicely.

  • There is an entirely new method of keeping the MultiMarkdown model for the text up to date. This affects syntax highlighting, the Table of Contents, etc. The new parsing engine is significantly faster, so that MultiMarkdown Composer can better keep up with your every keystroke, even when working on novel length documents. The difference is even more pronounced when extra features are enabled, such as the various HUDs and the preview.

  • The interface is also built in a new way that allows for greater flexibility. Things like the Table of Contents (TOC) panel can now be displayed inside the document window as sidebars, in addition to the current HUD panel approach. The appearance of the sidebars can be customized by Composer's style sheets to create a uniform appearance. Additionally, the preview can now be displayed in a single HUD panel that is shared across documents, rather than having to devote space in each window for the preview. This gives you more freedom to design the interface that's right for you.

  • The preview code has been entirely rewritten for better performance. It performs better when lining up with the editing pane, and is visually smoother when refreshing. It does a better job of adjusting to document complexity and length, so that you don't have to manually set a refresh delay.

MultiMarkdown Composer Pro

Composer v3 for Mac OS will come in two "flavors":

  • MultiMarkdown Composer "Standard" will continue the same great features included in v2, except everything will be faster and better. (**Note**: The one existing feature that is currently not planned for inclusion in Composer v3 is the "focus mode". I was never particularly fond of that feature, and I think I only kept it because it was an interesting problem to solve.)

  • MultiMarkdown Composer "Pro" will add additional new features. These features will be things that some users find indispensable, and others will never use. For example, the CriticMarkup support added in v2 would have been a good candidate for the "Pro" version -- many users never even try this feature, but a smaller subset use it every day. These sorts of features require a great deal of development effort, but benefit only some users. When first released, the Pro version will not have that many new features. They will come over time. I don't know exactly where this version will go. I have some really interesting ideas, but they still require some additional development. That said, I can't promise what will come in the future. Buying this version is a bit of a leap of faith at this point -- if you believe in what Composer currently offers, and trust that more good things will come in the future, you can buy it to encourage additional development. If you want to wait and see what actually materializes, then stick with the Standard version and buy the Pro version later. (**NOTE**: Because of the way the Mac App Store works, at this time I do not anticipate that there will be an upgrade path to the Pro version. Factor this into your decision as you like.) Currently, the features available only in the Pro version include:

    • Support for the TextBundle file format
    • Ability to automatically move a highlighted section of text to a separate file, and then transclude that file. Useful when you decide a document is too long and should be split apart into multiple files.
  • There are many other ideas in the queue, but I don't want to over-promise now. I'd rather over-deliver down the road.

MultiMarkdown Composer for iOS

The core code, and even some of the GUI code, has been designed with cross-compatibility in mind. Everything is working well in my tests on iOS, but the app is basically a single view for editing and previewing text, and doesn't handle files, saving, etc. Once the Standard and Pro Mac versions are released, I'll turn my attention back to iOS. I'll post updates on this when they're available.

Beta Testing

  1. MultiMarkdown Composer is currently in private beta testing with a group of experienced users/testers. They've helped me polish a few things and track down a few bugs. (Thanks!!!!)
  2. After a bit more testing, I'll release a version for public beta testing. This will be announced on the [Mailing List]. This will require that you own version 2. I can't promise an exact time frame, but I would guess this will happen in February.
  3. While v3 is in public beta testing, I'll be continuing to work on some of the Pro features. My hope is to be able to release the Standard and Pro versions at the same time.
  4. I don't know exactly how long the public beta will last. While that's happening, I will continue to work on the Pro features. The idea is that I should be able to release both versions at the same time.
  5. If you're interested in beta testing future products, sign up on the mailing list.

Upgrade Pricing

As most of you are aware, the App Store does not provide a mechanism to release paid updates. An update is either free to everyone, or everyone pays full price for a new app.

  1. Everyone has their own opinion on price and value, but I believe that I charge a very reasonable price for MultiMarkdown Composer. Depending on how much you write, it can easily save you hours, or even days. Everyone values their time differently, but to me hours/days of my time is easily worth many times the price of Composer.
  2. One can debate the merits of the App Store, but I plan on sticking with it (at least for now.) Since I can't provide upgrade pricing, I keep the price low knowing that users will have to buy a new version every few years if there is a significant update.
  3. So far, these new versions have only occurred when virtually the entire codebase has been rewritten. V2 really was a new app compared to v1, and v3 really is a new app compared to v2 (though it's visually a bit more similar).
  4. The downside of this is that it discourages the really innovative/time consuming features that don't justify a new version, since they are basically given away for free.
  5. Some of Composer's users barely scratch the surface of what is possible, and don't need more than the basics; some users squeeze everything out of it, and will use each new feature that I add.
  6. I have some really interesting ideas for how to further innovate with Composer, but these ideas will likely only appeal to a small subset of users.

I think the creation of a Pro version will allow me to address this.

  1. MultiMarkdown Composer v2 will be on sale for a reduced price until the release of v3. My anticipation is that the reduced price now, plus the sale price after v3 is released will add up to roughly match the regular price. For example, you might pay $5 now and $7 later, equalling the regular price of $12. (The actual price for v3 has not been determined yet -- these numbers are merely an example.)
  2. The Pro version will be more expensive than the Standard version. This will help justify the extra development time it takes to implement these advanced features.
  3. My suspicion is that most users will be just fine with the Standard version. Those who will benefit from the Pro version know who you are.
  4. The distinguishing features will be things that are unique, time consuming to implement, but appeal to a narrower subset of users. However, that subset of users will likely get pretty excited about the features. A perfect example is the CriticMarkup support added in v2. Many people don't care about it, or even know what it is. But those who use it, love it. There's nothing else like it. (***BTW*** -- current CriticMarkup support will stay in the Standard version -- I'm not taking it away.)
  5. BOTH versions will continue to be maintained and developed. They use the same code, so bug fixes apply to both. New features will be added to both, but the "bigger" features may only make it to the Pro version.
  6. It's possible that some Pro features may eventually migrate to the Standard version, but this is not guaranteed and will be on a feature by feature basis.
  7. The App Store has had some problems with in-app purchases. At least for now, there will not be an upgrade path from Standard to Pro. This may change in the future, but I can't promise it.
  8. The first release of the Pro version will likely not have all my cool ideas implemented. They will take time and further testing. I don't want to promise things that never happen, so I will try not to talk about possible features until they're actually implemented and ready for public testing (I hate vaporware as much as you do.) You will have to make a decision as to which version is right for you:
    1. If you think that paying more than the current price is too much, stick with Standard.
    2. If you think that the current price is too low, and you want to pay more just to show your support and encourage development, buy the Pro version. (And thank you!!!)
    3. If you are optimistic that I've done good things so far, and will probably continue to do so, go with Pro.
    4. If you aren't convinced that Pro is worth the money, and you're willing to buy it later if you change your mind, go with Standard and you can always buy the Pro one later. You may end up paying more in total, but only if you're convinced it's worth it. And you might end up saving yourself money if you never upgrade.
    5. If the idea of paying for both Standard and Pro seems like too much, but you think there's a good chance you might want the Pro -- go ahead and buy it.
    6. IF Apple allows bundle pricing for OS X software, like they've done for iOS, I'll try to come up with a bundle that would effectively allow you to upgrade from Standard to Pro for a reduced price.

The Mailing List

The App Store does not share any information about users with me. I have no way to contact you directly. Currently, my means to share information are:

  1. The website
  2. Twitter announcements
  3. Update notifications that appear in app (assuming you haven't turned them off)

I have created a mailing list with MailChimp. I will use it for:

  1. Announcements of major new features
  2. Upcoming sales
  3. Requests for beta testers
  4. Occasional special offers/giveaways (e.g. App Store Promo codes)

I won't send emails very often, and you can indicate certain topics that you're more interested in when you sign up (e.g. Mac vs iOS versions, beta testing, etc.). And it should go without saying that I won't share this list, or your information, with anyone else. I just need a way to reach those who are interested.

NOTE: This list will replace my old hand-maintained contact lists. So if you're interested in beta testing future products (e.g. the iOS version), be sure to sign up.

Sign up here.