MultiMarkdown Composer 2.1 beta

We, like many developers, are still figuring out the best ways to work within the rules and limitations of the Mac App Store. One option we are trying out is to release beta versions of the app that use the licensing information from the App Store version of Composer. This way you get the benefit of early access to bug fixes and new features without having to wait on the App Store approval process.

After ensuring that everything is working well, we'll submit 2.1 to the App Store, but you can continue to use this version if you like.

Download from the downloads page


MultiMarkdown Composer 2.1 has several exciting new "big" features:

  • Improved support for making the best of application sandboxing
  • Support for tracking changes to a document and comparing different versions of a document
  • Export directly to ePub

... plus lots of smaller features

  • improve behavior with updating preview only when document is saved
  • allow you to delete sections via the TOC panel
  • undo/redo works when HUDs are active (including the TOC panel)
  • prevent dropping sections on themselves in TOC panel
  • Info HUD shows information just for sections selected in the TOC (e.g. how many words in Chapter 2?, how many lines in this section?)
  • Preview pane opens external links in your browser
  • Enable drag and drop of files to insert paths (for images, etc.)
  • Rename to "maximum line length" for consistency everywhere (menu, preferences, help)
  • Add additional CSS features to built-in themes (delete your local copy to use the new ones)
  • Option to include CSS from style theme when exporting HTML documents
  • Additional styling support for blockquotes
  • Multiple performance improvements

... and a few bug fixes:

  • fix crash when opening new window related to either missing, corrupt, or multiple versions of Palatino or Courier New fonts on user machines
  • ensure that "Save" menu item is not disabled when auto save is turned off
  • Don't allow users to set a maximum full screen width of 0
  • Fix window "jumping" when a file is AutoSaved for the first time
  • Ensure we grab final "\n" when matching sections of documents
  • fix bug that can cause repeated display in browser of announcement messages


Since the beta version is not sandboxed, you can't test these features. But when running future versions from the Mac App Store, Composer will automatically ask for permission when necessary to display images in previews, access CSS files on your machine, and read BibTeX files that are used in your document. Composer automatically asks only for the most specific folder possible --- allowing access to the documents you want it to access, but keeping the rest of your files "safe."

All you have to do as a user is open the specified folder when asked --- Composer does the rest.

Change Tracking

MultiMarkdown Composer has support to help you work with different versions of a document, and to collaborate and offer feedback between authors and editors.


CriticMarkup was created by Gabe Weatherhead and Erik Hess. It is basically a syntax for denoting insertions, deletions, substitutions, and comments in a text document.

For example, an author sends off a draft for feedback. The editor can use CriticMarkup to make it clear what parts of the document should be changed, in what way, and why. There are multiple ways to use CriticMarkup --- probably in your favorite applications.

Change Tracking

Of course, MultiMarkdown Composer has its own special tools to make CriticMarkup even easier. Simply turn on "Track Changes" in the "View" menu, and start making your edits. If you delete something, it will be flagged as a deletion. Start typing, and it's an insertion. Select something and replace it --- substitution. You don't have to know the CriticMarkup syntax - Composer takes care of it for you. It even prevents you from accidentally "messing up" the syntax by protecting the markup characters.

You can then use the Change Panel to view all of the edits in your document. You can quickly navigate up and down through the document to view your changes, and can easily accept or reject as many of the changes as you like.

Document Comparison

Ever get a modified version of your document back from a collaborator, and have no idea what they changed? Or perhaps you continued to work on your document after sending them a copy, and now you have two versions that are different.

Composer can easily compare one draft of a document with another, and will automatically generate the CriticMarkup syntax to show your the difference.

Simply open the "new" copy of your document. Then select "Compare to other file..." in the "File" menu. Choose the "old" copy of the document in the Open File dialog, and a new window will be created showing you the differences between the two. You can then use the Change Panel to resolve the discrepancies and move forward with your masterpiece.

CriticMarkup and the Preview Pane

We have done some fancy tricks to allow Composer to show you the final version of your document in several ways. The "View->Preview CriticMarkup" menu offers several choices:

  1. Highlight Differences --- the preview pane will show insertions in green with underlining, and deletions in red with a strikethrough. This can be customized with CSS. Note: this version may generate invalid HTML. For example, the following example has one "opening" of italics, but two "closings." Clearly, this will cause problems when generating HTML.

    This is *text in {--italics* and--}{++emphasis* but++} not bold.

    It is recommended that you use CriticMarkup with the text document itself, and with the preview in Composer, but that you resolve the changes (accept or reject) before exporting. Otherwise you may get invalid documents that won't open.

  2. Original version --- show the original document by effectively "rejecting" all changes when creating the preview.

  3. Changed version --- show the modified document by "accepting" all changes.

  4. Disabled --- ignore CriticMarkup when creating the preview; the syntax will just appear as is.

ePub Export

You can export your file directly to an ePub file. The preview pane must be visible, since the HTML is used to generate the ePub. The CSS used in your preview is applied to the ePub.

Composer now includes the "eBook" theme which includes some extra features designed to improve the quality of the ePubs that are generated. It still needs work, but gives you an idea of the basics so that you can customize the appearance of your own eBook.

NOTE: --- some of the HTML generated by MultiMarkdown is not strictly correct for ePub files. These generally should not cause problems with reading the file, but you should consider using a tool like Sigil to validate your ePub before distributing (and certainly before uploading to any online stores). You may also wish to split up longer documents into multiple files within the ePub to improve performance.