Oh man. Writing any kind of text on iOS is easy thanks to Markdown and the profusion of plain text editors in the App Store. But revising that text? Making edits and tracking them between author and editor? You need Microsoft Word for that. You need a computer for that.
But what if there were a Markdown-like markup syntax for plain text copyediting? You know where I’m going with this don’t you? That tool is here, and it’s called Critic Markup.
Critic Markup, or CM, uses five different kinds of “Critic marks” to denote additions, deletions, substations, comments and highlights. These use the following plain-text characters to do their work:
Addition ++ ++ Deletion – – Substitution ~~ ~> ~~ Comment >> << Highlight }>> <<
The symbol set was carefully chosen by the creators Gabe Weatherhead and Eric Hess to play nice with existing markupifiers like Markdown and even LaTex. And the boys have even launched with a tools to use CM in Sublime Text on the Mac, TextExpander (OS X and iOS), Mac System Services, Keyboard Maestro, BBEdit, the command line and (soon) in MultiMarkdown Composer.
And given the nerdy nature of the iOS and Mac text editing scene, it can’t be long before we see this incorporated into many more apps.
CM is designed to be human-readable as-is, but can be rendered in HTML (just like Markdown) or just colored to make it easy to read in the original TXT file. Thus you can write in whatever text editor you like, and your human editor can wield his virtual read (and green and orange) pen on your work before sending it back. Using Sublime Text’s tools you can accept or reject the changes made.
This is a huge win for collaborative teams everywhere, and could finally kill all need for Microsoft Word on the iPad. Yes, there are other things that word does too, but its mystery-meat change tracking is a horrible, hard-to-support monster I’m glad to see the back of.
You can download and start using Critic Markup right now. I already installed it in my iOS TextExpander.
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