MultiMarkdown Composer v3 Beta Update


It's been almost 11 months since the announcement of the beta for MMDC v3. In that time a lot has happened, even if it doesn't seem like it on the outside:

  • MultiMarkdown itself saw many updates and new features, and was updated to v5. This new release has been incorporated into Composer v3.

  • Updates to code base to get things compiling on 10.11.2, despite several changes by Apple. (Special thanks to Keith Blount (Scrivener) for his help solving an interesting printing problem with El Capitan.)

  • Many rewrites to the engine that allows on-the-fly re-parsing of documents using MultiMarkdown without having to process the entire document. MMD itself is fast, so you don't notice much of a difference in short documents. But in long documents, this results in dramatic improvements over v2. (NOTE: The beta includes a "double-check" step, so it's actually slower than v2 in long documents. This allows me to verify that the engine is working properly, even when people do crazy things! The production releases will have this turned off).

  • I just rewrote the receipt validation code to be more flexible in where it looks for App Store receipts. People seemed to have trouble following the instructions on this, and the new code should be more tolerant when they don't follow them quite correctly. ;)

  • Multiple bug fixes (thanks to everyone for sending what you find!)

Where Do We Stand?

  • There's still a known crash that a few people have experienced. I was able to experience it once while running Composer in a debugging session last night (finally!!) that helped me find what was broken, but I can't determine why it was broken and unfortunately didn't have all the debugging tools turned on. I've tried to add some more steps to help "trap" it if it occurs for anyone else, but I haven't been able to fix it yet.

  • The submission of "Composer Parser Error" files from users has dropped off dramatically. I hope this is because the parser's accuracy has improved, and not because people got bored. I was able to generate a couple more last night in some "stress testing", and fixed the engine to avoid those. The most recent refactoring (a month or so ago??) has been much more accurate than before. I'm not ready to remove the training wheels yet, but it's getting close.

  • Some of the "polish" still needs work -- things like help documents, tool tips, etc.

What About the Multiple Variants? (Lite, Standard, Pro)

  • I am still working on these. The two public betas consist of the Standard and Pro versions. You can use either one, so you might as well use the Pro and see what you think. I am working on a table showing the exact differences.

  • Lite is pretty easy -- it does the core things you expect, and it's relatively easy to turn off some of the more advanced features. But for basic users, it will be a great way to get MMDC for an even lower price!

  • Some of the Pro features are already implemented and in the beta. But some of the most interesting (to me, anyway) are features I am still working on. I'm struggling with balancing what I can ship "today" vs the even better things I can ship "someday." So, I'll go ahead and start talking about one that has been an interesting challenge to solve. It's a bit long though, so I'll link to a separate page for this.

So..... When Will It Be Finished?

Most of you have heard my thoughts about announcing software ship dates -- they're never right. Which is why I go to public beta early and allow anyone who owns Composer to use the beta version for free, and put the old version on sale. It basically doesn't cost anything extra to buy the old version on sale, and start using the beta right away. And if you wait for the sale after release, you end up paying the same total amount.

Some of this will depend on my work schedule. I'm going to be busy between now and the holidays, and for much of January. But then I should have more time to dedicate to it again.

But the true answer is that it's never finished anyways. Whether we call it a beta, or call it final, I'm still working on improvements, changes, and the occasional bug fix. And since I don't make any extra money until it's finalized, you can believe I want to get it ready just as much as you do!