Panda Sneak Peek: A Work-in-Progress Markdown Editor and Library 🐼

Hey everyone, today we want to discuss Panda with you: we’ll outline our vision, showcase some preliminary screenshots, and then address any questions you may have.

Please note that nothing is set in stone at this stage, and we’re open to considering all feedback and suggestions you may have.

Our aim with Panda is to serve two primary purposes:

  1. Provide a streamlined Markdown editor for quick document creation: simply open a file from the Finder or another app, make your edits, and you’re good to go.
  2. Offer a more traditional “library” setup: create workspaces (single or multiple) containing folders of Markdown files that can be edited, searched, and interconnected.

These functionalities are not mutually exclusive and can be utilized simultaneously, depending on your specific needs.

While Panda will draw inspiration from some features of Bear, we’re committed to ensuring it’s not merely a “file-based Bear”. We’re striving for Panda to carve out its unique role and identity.

Panda will boast deep integration with the Finder/Files, facilitating collaboration via shared file systems and seamless interaction with other apps that work directly with files.

While tags may not be featured (or at least not in the same capacity as in Bear), backlinks could potentially play a more prominent role.

Below are some initial mockups we’re currently assessing with the team. These are not finalized in terms of details, but they serve as a starting point for visualizing what Panda could become.

Now, we invite you to join the discussion and share your thoughts. Your feedback will shape Panda’s development and ensure it meets your needs. Let’s build something great together!

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Wow. This looks really promising. Almost like a minimal and focused version of Obsidian. I dig the vision. Will there be a way to use images and/or other attachments?

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That looks great! It would be really good if there were some kind of file that encapsulated attachments.

Panda edits standard MD files and links to external files but also be able to have something like a .textbundle file so that you could copy that file anywhere and the attachments stay with it.

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Of course! Panda will have the same capabilities as Bear in terms of images and attachments. You can embed any file and we have images and pdf previews inside the editor.

We built Panda with .textbundle and .textpack support out of the box! We’ll provide preferences on the default file format when you create a new file :slight_smile:

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So, not to be dense, does that mean it would be able to open/edit & save a .textbundle file?

I think that is great. Keeping all associated resources together.

I usecase is this

  1. Blog draft: It does not support tag stratification, so if there is a library function, the tag will flood.
  2. I’m using the Finder hierarchy, so I don’t need the filer function again.

Therefore, what I want is Panda keep simple Maekdown editor.

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That looks indeed amazing. Thanks for all your effort! :hugs:

Some questions to the UI

  • Will panda have themes and if yes, will they be the same like in bear?

  • The notes/files in the tree have different icons. Do they stand for different file formats?

  • Does the search field in the left filter the folder-file-tree or does it apply search on the open note/file?

  • What does the icon in the left sidebar beside of the “new file/note” icon mean?

Some comments

  • The menu bar contains the standard icons. I really would love to see your own created icons like in bear as they exude their own charm, which sets them apart from other apps

  • I would be the user type 2 who would use the more traditional library set up. Along with this, I would create folders and files from inside of panda rather than in finder once the parent folder of the workspace is setted. Therefore having tag cons like in bear would help creating a meaningful tree

  • The layout looks space-saving thanks to the omission of the notes list. Therefore the opportunity could be seized to increase the width of the information and backlinks panel. Ideally the user is able to resize these panels on his own. That would give large headings and the backlinks place to breathe.

  • If the search fields function is to search for folders and files name rather than applying search on open file it should be renamed to “filter” for avoiding confusion. For searching inside of files/notes the editor is imo the better place as it would not require the sidebar to be open

  • It should be possible to create a new note/file on the fly without bothering in which folder to store the note but to catch that up at a later and more suitable date.

Last but not least

I could say a lot about it, but I’d rather save that for a later date. At this point, however, I would like to make a passionate plea not to do without tags altogether. Apple notes have them, obsidian have them and many apps have them as addition to folders. Craft has no tags at all and it is the heaviest rant on the part of its username. Roam research and logseq as block based outliners are realizing tags by providing them as notes. Nevertheless they distinguish between usual wikilinks and tags since they have a different meaning. What of course should never happen are nested tags as addition to a hierarchical folder tree. I mean single tags whose advantages (even over nested tags) I will mention when and if the discussion about this topic arises.

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I’m really hooked and curious to see what it becomes! Two quick questions:

  • Will it sync seamlessly like Bear does on iOS? (At the very least the workspaces metadata so that you may find the same environments and tools on both platforms?)
  • Will it have some automation capabilities the way Bear does? Or will you need to manipulate the underlying files with other tools and then have Panda pick up the changes?

Otherwise, as @krssno , I’d like to advocate for tags being navigable and used in Panda!

Yes! The current Panda already does it :slight_smile:

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This really is brilliant. Well Done. Often tags are helpful and I would be interested in your thoughts of tags and whether you’re thinking of implementing them.

I don’t expect them to have a prominent role in this, but would be interested in how you’re thinking of implementing them.

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Apple is making it harder and harder to have custom-themed native apps, so most likely Panda will not have themes like Bear, we might introduce some kind of editor customization in terms of colors.

Yes, we’ll try to have a bunch of different icons for the most common file types.

It’ll search inside every file in your whole library.

That will contain a menu with some sidebar and workspace options (visualization, management, etc…)

That’s by design, we’re trying to make Panda fully blend into macOS, and we want the UI to be as intuitive as possible and out of the way.

This is not on our list, but it’s an interesting idea.

There is Bear for that :slight_smile:

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Panda itself won’t have any kind of sync, being file-based means a strong dependency on the file system. Any kind of shared file system will work as a sync! If you put your folders on iCloud Drive/DropBox/etc… you’ll be able to set up your Panda on any Apple device that has access to those.

Unless you use iCloud Drive, due to the security model of macOS/iOS, workspaces can’t be synced on different devices as Panda won’t have permission to open anything. You’ll have to manually add the folders you want to your workspace to give read/write permission to Panda.

What kind of automation are thinking of? Apple’s Shortcuts are on our list, but we’re open to other suggestions.

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At the current stage, we’re thinking of integrating tags inside the search. You can search for one or more tags at once, and you’ll be able to click on tags inside a document to trigger this search.

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Thanks for your answer, and that makes total sense. So Panda will watch the folders – got it.

However, I need to throw a caveat, as a long-time previous Obsidian user: you are of course aware that iCloud Drive sync on iOS kind of does its own thing and, AFAIK, other sync systems are sandboxed from other apps (unless you found a workaround, maybe with bookmarks?). So that may mean that iCloud is the only way on iOS and it has mediocre sync speeds due to the iOS battery management, and that is a long point of disappointment on the part of Obsidian users (where the app takes forever to load, files show up on their own time, etc.). I’m sure you know your stuff – your CloudKit sync with Bear has long been flawless – but just wanted to throw this out there. iCloud is not your responsibility, but if it’s slow, people will tend to blame the app…

What kind of automation are thinking of? Apple’s Shortcuts are on our list, but we’re open to other suggestions.

Yes, I was thinking of Shortcuts first and foremost – I would hope to have the same kind of versatile toolkit as Bear. If that’s planned, that’s perfect! Also, I know you take the utmost care to integrate with native frameworks and provide the best UX around so that’s almost certainly a given, but if if you could take special care to provide accessible menus for as many commands as possible to leverage automation, that would be great. :slightly_smiling_face:

Really excited! And thanks for listening to us. It’s awesome to be part of this journey with you all.

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I’m guessing you could have an inbox workspace, throw stuff there, and then move accordingly to different workspaces. Or just build a simple shortcut to throw any quickly captured files into an Inbox folder for later processing. I used to do that with Obsidian on both Mac and iPhone by creating Markdown files through KM or Shortcuts. Obsidian picked them up next time the app was opened.

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That’s cool and reminds me of ulysses where you can share these themes.

I am not sure if I understand correctly. I thought of file formats like md, txt, text bundle and so on. Do you mean also other filetypes like images or pdf? If yes what would happen if they are clicked? Would then be a way to prevent some file types from being shown?

It might be that you misunderstood me. I didn’t mean to create a note that is not going to be saved as file inside the workspace. A screenshot may help:

I was able to create the files inside the red rectangle without bothering of giving them a name or of deciding in which of the visible folders to store them. I used just a hotkey or the icon to create and add those notes/files. Nevertheless they are stored inside the workspace at highest level which is why I am considering them as unsorted. If on the contrary I already know where to store a new file I would rather use the context menu of a certain folder than the icon or CMD-N

A cool feature from Breveto came to my mind that surely would also cut a good figure in pandas file browser: pinned files

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Thanks for your advice. The workspaces will give us indeed many desired possibilities and is so far my favorite feature in the presented concept of panda. I believe I must have expressed myself in a misleading way. My fear is that after clicking cmd-n or the new-file-icon that a dialogue appears that forces me to name the note and to specify where to store inside the folder tree (see my previous answer to Matteo)

In current (old) Panda beta version 1.0 (3147) – Mac only,
(was ‘Bear’ alpha before it became Bear beta)
⌘ N creates notes named Untitled.md, Untitled 2.md, etc. and places them in the default folder: /iCloud Drive/Panda/, which is what I expected :+1:

@matteo
But it would be nice if the file also automatically get named by title (first line of text) at least when first created. (If it should automatically be renamed if I change the title later, is maybe a question to consider.) But I guess you already have a solution/idea for this?

It already is and would be a terrible chore to rename all these Untitled.md files later!

Bear export sets name on files according to first line (title), stripping of illegal characters in filenames (also what illegal in Dropbox and Windows), so guess you already have a function that can be used here?

iA Writer does this elegantly, and file is only first created the moment you press return on that first line, or paste multi line text, or change focus, quitting app, etc. (so even one-liners get saved properly).

If pasting long line text on first line, filename gets truncated to the first max 64 characters, but without breaking last word.

Renaming title later on, does not change filename in iA Writer.

I also like the old Panda approach of starting with a .md (or alternatively .markdown .txt in new beta) file until you add images or files, which makes it change to .textbundle .textpack (.bear or .panda: textpack variations)

Getting a system setting for default file type (.md .markdown .txt .textbundle .textpack) for new files, as you have mentioned above is also excellent and a much-needed improvement.

Please also let Panda be able to open .bear and .panda files too, without having to rename them to .textpack

Looking very much forward to first iteration of the new Panda beta :panda_face:
:nerd_face:

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