Markdown hiding: syntax highlighting vs. rich text

Except the developers (and therefore, indirectly, the users), who might easily end up trying to maintain and develop several different pathways within the app, hidden behind options and the additional complexity that happens when those options interact.
By everybody I meant everybody of the users.

Difficulty of evolving an app while keeping users is simply the price of continuing to make a successful app.

That’s why the devs have to make decisions some of which we might not like.

I work as a developer and designer, I’m well aware of the challenges of dealing with complexity in software, both in terms of code and in terms of user interface design.

What exactly the cost of this complexity is I’m not sure. I’m commenting here as a user and making sure I’m expressing how important certain aspects are to me. It’s up to them to decide what tradeoffs to make.

I know a lot of users can be angry at devs, but I would never judge a dev for choices they make. I know that stuff can be hard! That said, if a piece of software isn’t working for me I might try something else of course. (Though, in this case I suppose I’d at least try to learn to live with the text that jumps around.)

This might interest some, and maybe give some wider perspective.

First of all, Bear is a team. Part of the point of being a team is being able to do more than individuals. (Though, honestly, are we sure _DavidSmith isn’t use several people in a human looking trench coat?)

Additionally, some of the stuff Marco bitterly complaints about from a dev perspective is what I love about Overcast. It’s bespoke sync again is so damn rock solid. It just works. It’s the only podcast that as really fast and reliable sync. You can put down a device and continue on another in seconds. And it works. Every, damn, time! It’s literally the main reason I use Overcast.

I wouldn’t judge Marco if we went Cloud Kit, but if Overcast then turns out to have slow and unreliable sync I’d probably look elsewhere.


Absolutely. I’m happy for users to say what they feel and want and for developers to make the trade-offs they think are right. Personally, I’m very happy with Bear 2’s current editor: I know it doesn’t feel like Bear 1, but I think that’s a good thing. It was like a breath of fresh air when I first tried it. Obviously, you and others feel differently.

Logically, the Bear Team (which is a small team, to be fair) will have to decide who to disappoint and how much and that’s fair enough. I think they’ve done a lot of that thinking already and that might limit what they can realistically change at this stage, but if they can find something that works for them and for most users, that’s obviously good.

I don’t have any specific insight into the complexities of Bear, but a good rule of thumb is that EVERYTHING in development is much more complex than it appears.

I love Overcast for all the reasons you say and have used it since the very beginning. I’m grateful for Marco and his work, but there have been times when I thought it might disappear and times when he made decisions that made me question whether I needed to look elsewhere. Bear has a similar story and it’s great to see it back in very active development.

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One possible compromise that will at least solve the jumping around problem: always have markdown formatting characters take up space, but have them be invisible unless you’re editing them.

I can’t speak for others who would prefer markdown visible always, but for me I think that could work quite well.

Obviously spacing might be a bit strange here (will appear like extra space), but I thought I’d at least try to throw out a in-the-middle solution.

My main concern is definetely getting rid of text jumping around.


The reason I kinda expected an option is because AFAIK we had that in Panda, so it seemed natural to me that they would continue that.


I’m really hoping any build now we’ll get this. It makes Bear drastically less useful to not have this option.

When I’m taking something out of Bear, I usually just want to copy the Markdown and paste the Markdown. I work in a lot of Markdown applications. If I start a new line and type ## Sample Header, then hit ⌘← to select the whole line, I don’t get my pound signs! They are characters on the line, but Bear’s attempt to “hide” the syntax from me gets in my way of actually using it!

Quite some time ago, I laid out my own very strong case for Bear’s previously elegant handling of syntax. I don’t care if it’s the default, I just desperately want it back.


I would agree with you if the creative work is done by and/or used by only one person.

However, when used by thousands, if not tens of thousands, software is politics.

Especially when there are people lobbying for an abstract purity that they desire, at the expense of functionality that many others need.

Thanks for mentioning iA Writer; first I had heard of it.

I just downloaded and find that it looks like a reasonable fallback if Bear decides not to allow editing in raw markdown.

I would not love that, but it would be better than nothing.

OTOH, what I would love is simply a toggle to a pure text edit mode that lets the user edit raw markdown in a pure text editor. And it doesn’t need a side-by-side preview either (although if they added one as an option when editing in raw markdown, I would not complain.)

Why? Most of the time I would use their existing visual editor. But there are times when editing raw text allows you to do things you cannot do in a visual editor. It is for the same reason visual HTML editors always offer a way to edit in raw HTML.

Personally, I’m very happy with Bear 2’s current editor: I know it doesn’t feel like Bear 1, but I think that’s a good thing. It was like a breath of fresh air when I first tried it. Obviously, you and others feel differently. (Not that you’re wrong to feel the way you do, I just wanted to share how it felt to me.)

To me it didn’t feel fresh, it felt exactly like Obsidian, which is to say it felt clunky and unpolished. That text jumping around as I move my text cursor was one of the reasons I wanted to get away from Obsidian after trying it for a while (I was tempted by backlinks).

Don’t get me wrong, Bear 2 feels way more polished than Obsidian overall, but in that particular aspect, the way the text jumps around on me, that felt totally like Obsidians text field.

Sorry to keep posting here, but I just keep having very strong thoughts about this which I feel compelled to share. :see_no_evil:


I agree with Torb’s comments and have posted previously on this topic. But I feel the need to post again regarding choices I’ve made regarding markdown, how I use markdown and alternatives.

I use Bear 1.0 for notes. I previously used Evernote and was an early adapter. Evernote writes notes in rich text. After years of using Evernote, I moved my notes to Bear, canceled my paid Evernote account, and deleted the app. I prefer Bear, and one of the things I like is that notes are in plain text with markdown as the only markup.

I own or have tried many other markdown products and currently have iA Writer and Ulysses on all my devices. iA Writer is NOT a note-taking app. I have complaints about using it for long-form writing, but I like that both iA Writer and Ulysses separate writing from reading. They do so by a quick click to preview a document by either the default or custom CSS style sheets.

Bear, on the Mac, can preview in Marked 2, but iOS can’t do this (Marked 2 is Mac only).

Torb and others have suggested an easy setting be added to the app that shows markdown markup or hides it, your choice. That would be excellent.

I do not support the developers’ decision to convert Bear from a markdown note tool into a rich text writer. I see the advantage on iOS in that you can enter star-star for bold (Bold text) instead of using a keyboard shortcut of ALT-B. But I chose Bear because it is NOT a rich text app.

Regarding the jitter—the moving of text when editing a line with markup—others have shared my complaint about how annoying this is. I want to add that I have impaired vision, and this jitter makes it more likely I will make typos when it happens, although even with perfect vision, it would be error-prone.

Just put in the option in settings, and we will all be happy.


I’m pretty sure that won’t be true.:wink:

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Well — paraphrasing The Rolling Stones — getting exactly what you want shouldn’t be the goal; getting what is sufficient for your needs should be. Especially when what you want ensures that other’s needs are not being addressed.

Well — paraphrasing The Rolling Stones — getting exactly what you want shouldn’t be the goal; getting what is sufficient for your needs should be. Especially when what you want ensures that other’s needs are not being addressed.


One of the reasons many of us use markdown is because it separates the editing function from viewing the output. The Markdown paradigm has been “what you see is what you mean.” If markdown markup becomes simply an alternative to menu or keyboard-entered formatting shortcuts, then the editor becomes “what you see is ALMOST what you get.” The attraction of markdown is diminished for me if this is true.

I will admit that I am a dinosaur because I do most of my writing on a MacBook. I read notes on my phone and iPad but rarely do more than simple edits to existing notes on these devices. If you live on your iPhone or iPad, you might of other preferences. I will likely try Bear 2.0 when it is released, but if it works like Typora on the Mac, I’ll be exploring other options.


I can live with everything else that I might not love, but I have to start asking myself if Bear deserves to maintain its place in my workflows without the ability to show Markdown.


Option to hide or show markdown… done !


Posted appreciation over in the post on this build, but I can’t thank you enough.


I don’t have an old build on-hand to test against, but I’m appreciating the behavior of links here. Is it possible to restore the editor’s ability to treat the header glyphs
CleanShot 2023-04-21 at 16.18.11@2x
As if they were their respective Markdown characters in-line? And the bullets on lists to do the same? The end-result I’m looking for with this is that when I push ⇧⌘← that it selects everything back to the beginning of the line as if I were doing the same with the Markdown as plaintext in a text editor. As is, if I hit that shortcut a second time, it selects. But this was not the former behavior of Bear, nor is it the behavior of any other application I’m personally using to work with Markdown.

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are you on the bear team, MikeO? regardless, huge thanks to everyone who helped bring this feature back!

Ha ha ! No, not at all, but it was the first thing I checked !

I concur. The unhiding of Markdown is a step in the right direction, but there is still too much hidden, making selection of Markdown for copy-paste harder than it needs to be.