(This was first posted on the discontinued blog at mjjzf.eu)
So, I have been talking about Markdown.
Actually, it is starting to feel like I only hit this blog to whine about markup languages.
Anyway: I have been playing with Zettlr, and it is… really getting there.
Zettlr is developed by the initiative of Henrik Erz, a researcher who wanted a reliable tool for project notes and journal writing. It seems there is quite an ecosystem around it (enough to make me wonder why I have not heard of it before, at least) – and it looks like there is quite a lot of effort going into translation, too.
One can see the academic style of it – on the one hand, it seems somewhat Spartan, on the other hand room has been made for a footnote function… so, priorities.
Good to see that the app has quite a few export options! It is impressive, this should cover the needs of almost everyone:
It uses LaTeX (xelatex) to render the PDF files. When you see that it will export to Org-Mode, you know that it is intended for people who are serious about their notetaking habits.
I am a long way from getting into the advanced features, but this is a tool you can use from day 1 and then expand on your methods. I really like the design, and I really like the approach. Note, for instance that when I have written a Markdown link like [ linkname ] (link), Zettlr automatically pulls it together to show a hyperlink; if I click on it, it opens up the markup. Perfect. The same happens if you insert an image.
Interestingly, the author recommends using a cloud synchronising folder to write with, and that is definitely a good idea – and a good reason to use folders with plaintext and attachments stored in the same folder.
One should perhaps expect it, but the Zettlr documentation is well-structured, excellent and gets around a bit.
It gives you tips to using Zettlr for larger projects, recommended settings for using it for notetaking or writing as well as for using the Zettelkasten method. You will also find an interesting citation management tool for hooking up with, say, a Zotero reference database. Finally, the application has an in-built Pomodoro timer for staying productive and on track.
Now, I am a public-sector bureaucrat – so I am not the obvious use case; but if I ever go back to university or will be doing course work, this is definitely a recommendation.