I have something of a like/dislike relationship with smartphones and tablet. On one hand, they can be very useful for getting some work done. Especially writing. And not having to lug a laptop around is a bonus.
On the other hand, smartphones and tablets can distract us from our lives. And they further blur the already blurry line between life and work. Because we can work from anywhere doesn’t mean we should.
As I wrote a couple of paragraphs ago, smartphones and tablets can be very useful when you need to do a little work. In my case, that work is usually writing. To do that, I need an editor.
Over the years, I’ve used a number of editors with a number of Android-powered devices. Right my, my editor of choice is Markor.
Let’s take a look at it.
Seeing as how Markor is open source, I got it (and update it) from F-Droid. Why F-Droid? The site is devoted to free and open source Android apps, and doesn’t add any of Google’s creepiness to the mix. And since I don’t use Google services with the version of Android running on my phone and tablet, F-Droid is the best way to get those apps.
In case you’re wondering, you can install Markor from the Google Play Store. Visit the Markor web page for the link.
Fire up the app, obviously!
(Note: This isn’t quite how the screen looks when you first run Markor. I had to update the image above, and didn’t have a device on which to install a pristine copy of the app.)
At the bottom of the screen are these icons:
I’ll be discussing the options related to those icons in a moment or two.
Creating a Document
I use Markor mainly for writing. To start doing that, tap the + button on the main screen. Markor prompts you for the name of your new document.
You can also choose the type of document to create:
- Plain Text
- Jekyll Post
Markor adds the extension based on what you choose — .md for Markdown and Jekyll posts, and .txt for plain text and Todo.txt files.
Markor doesn’t use templates with the file types you select. With Jekyll posts, for example, the editor doesn’t include a front matter block. Markor does, however, uses Jekyll’s preferred file naming convention of yyyy-mm-dd-slug.md — for example, 2019-07-16-markor.md.
When you’ve given your document a name, tap OK. You have a blank canvas on which to write.
Start typing. You can add Markdown formatting using the keyboard. I usually work with a folding Bluetooth keyboard rather than the on-screen one. It’s faster and smoother. But if you prefer your phone’s or tablet’s soft keyboard, or don’t have any other choice, you can quickly add formatting.
Notice the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. That’s the one which displays if you created a Markdown or Jekyll Post file. If you don’t know Markdown, you can tap an icon to add formatting. You can also add a date and time stamp or change the colour of text. Of course, you won’t need to use the toolbar if you buy my book Learning Markdown. Just saying …
Organizing Your Documents
If you use Markor a lot, you’ll wind up with a lot of files. Maybe even ones of different types or for different purposes.
A better way to organize them is to use folders. To create a folder, go to Markor’s main screen and tap the + icon. Type a name for the folder, and then tap Folder.
Create as many folders as you need. For example, I have folders for blog posts, essays, and articles.
What if you’ve created files before you’ve created folders? Tap and hold the files that you want to move, then tap the Intents menu (that’s the one with three vertical dots on the top right of the window). Tap Move, and then select the folder in which to place the files.
Using Markor’s Other Options
Remember the other options on the main screen? The ones labelled Files, Files, and To-Do? Let’s take a quick look at them.
Files is what you see when you start up Markor. It’s a list of files (or files and folders) that you’ve been working on in the app.
QuickNote enables you to just what it says on the tin: jot down a short note or snippet, or copy a quote. There’s nothing else to say about it.
Todo, as you’ve probably guessed, enables you to create task lists. Those lists use the file format of the popular Todo.txt utility.
You can add tags to task, as well as contexts. You can give your tasks a priority or mark them as done.
Getting Your Files Off Your Device
Markor’s great for writing a draft, but a time comes when you need to move a file or three off your device to polish or publish it.
To do that, open the file in Markor. Tap the Intents menu and select Share. I usually choose Plain Text, although you can save your document as a PDF or an HTML file.
A list of applications with which you can share files displays.
I use Nextcloud to sync files between my devices. When I tap the Nextcloud icon, I can choose the folder into which I want to have the file. From there, I type a file name and the document is uploaded.
Something I noticed: when I select Plain Text, Markor doesn’t upload the file if I change the extension to .md. The extension has to stay .txt. It’s annoying, I agree.
Markor has one or two little annoyances, but it’s the best free/open source text editor I’ve used in a while. It’s easy to use and it’s flexible. Plus it works seamlessly with my folding Bluetooth keyboard. Combining my phone or tablet with the keyboard and a lightweight stand give me a lightweight, plain text writing rig.