Realmac tells us how it built the best Markdown editor for Mac

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If you write, you need Typed. Photo: Realmac Software
If you write, you need Typed. Photo: Realmac Software

Realmac Software has been schooling developers on how to make great apps since 2002. So when they brought Typed to OS X back in December, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Two months on, I’m convinced it’s the best Markdown editor you can get on the Mac, so I spoke with Realmac founder Dan Counsell to find out how he and his team built it.

“Products always turn out better when you build them for your own needs,” Counsell told Cult of Mac. “I think that’s why we’re different to a lot of companies out there; we don’t go looking for opportunities, we build the products we want to use.”

This is why Typed isn’t just a great app, but also a great experience. Counsell says that experience is purely a byproduct of great focus and only building software that you really care about.

When Realmac set out to build Typed, it wasn’t because of a lack of Markdown editors. In fact, there are tons of them for Mac, such as Marked, iA Writer, and Byword. But Counsell and his team felt they could do a better job, and so they started building a product that would meet their needs and eliminate the flaws they’d encountered with other apps.

“We figured if we liked it, then other people would like it, too.”

“We knew by building our own we could make it just right — fix the things we found missing or annoying in other editors,” Counsell said. “We figured if we liked it, then other people would like it, too.”

That approach is what makes working with Typed a great experience. It has excellent features like Zen Mode, which helps you concentrate by blocking out the many distractions on your Mac and playing soothing sounds that help relax the mind.

As a writer who works from home, that’s incredibly important to me. I’m easily distracted by Twitter or incoming emails or whatever’s going on downstairs. But if I use Typed in Zen Mode and throw on some headphones, those distractions disappear, and I become much more productive.

Typed in action. Screenshot: Cult of Mac
Typed in action. Screenshot: Cult of Mac

Zen Mode wasn’t part of the original plan for Typed, Counsell told me, but it made its way into the app when Realmac began thinking about the ideal environment for writing. Counsell was using a Buddha Machine at home to play meditative music that helped him focus, and Zen Mode was built to recreate that experience on the desktop.

“When I started using the early development versions of Typed I started thinking more and more about what the perfect writing experience is, and how we could recreate it,” he explained. “Ambient music was one of the key things.”

Counsell says Realmac has been blown away by the initial feedback for Typed and how much users love it, and the company has no plans to stop now.

“Our plan is to keep iterating and make sure we’re better than every other Markdown editor on the market,” Counsell told us. “We also have some bigger ideas for Typed as a brand — the Mac app is just a small part of a much bigger picture.”

Counsell wouldn’t tell me what those big ideas are, but he did say we can expect an announcement sometime early this year. One thing you can rule out, however, is support for non-Apple platforms; Realmac is 100% Mac and iOS.

“I grew up using Macs and feel like I have a certain affinity to Apple,” Counsell revealed. “If I had to start building apps for Android I’m not sure I’d enjoy it. I don’t own an Android phone and just couldn’t put the passion and care into it like we do for Apple products.”

“I’m a die-hard Apple fan and have been for the last 20 years,” he added. “I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”

If you haven’t already tried Typed, you can download it from the Realmac website. It’s free to try for one week, then $24.99 to buy.