Easy Markdown Tables on iOS
There are many fantastic iOS writing apps. Most of these use Markdown, and whilst that may sound complicated it is actually really easy. Many people use apps such as iA Writer, Drafts, Day One, Simplenote, ... who don't classify themselves as computer geeks but regular people who want to get something written.
People use their favorite iOS writing apps for journaling, preparing work documents, creating the next great novel and coming up with groundbreaking screenplays. The best iOS writing apps make it simple to:
- Add structure to text using multiple levels of headings
- Use bold, italics and strikethrough
- Emphasise sections as block quotes
- Include images
- Add numbered and bulleted lists
The big missing features from all the apps above is easy creation and editing of tables.
The two main flavors of Markdown supported by apps include support for tables. Here is an example of a Markdown table:
| Fruit | Colour |
| ------ | ------ |
| Apple | Green |
| Banana | Yellow |
| Orange | Orange |
When you preview the Markdown - or create a PDF - you'll get something which looks like this:
In all Markdown iOS writing apps to create a table you've got to manually edit all of the syntax - all those pipes (|) and header row lines. Once you've got a table which works to add new columns there is lots of kerfuffle and hand wringing.
Markdown Tables are not easy to write by hand.
This is where the app Markdown Tables comes in. It is an app for iPhone and iPad whose sole purpose is to create and edit Markdown Tables. You can either start with a new table or import an existing table. Importing tables is fantastic if you want to make any edits to an existing table.
To keep things simple Markdown Tables works almost exclusively via the clipboard - or on iPad via drag and drop.
On an iPhone to edit an existing table simply copy it to the clipboard and then in Markdown Tables tap a button to import the contents of the clipboard. The app will read the clipboard contents and present you with a nice editable table. You can now easily add columns and rows wherever you want or edit cell contents. A quick tap will toggle the header row.
Once you've finished tap a button to copy a Markdown version of the table back to the clipboard. Now paste into your writing app and continue with your work.
On an iPad using Markdown Tables is even more seamless. In most apps you can work with Markdown Tables in split view (where you have two apps on the screen at once) and drag text from your writing app to Markdown Tables to begin editing. Then when you've finished drag from the export button back to your writing app to move the table there.
Finding out more
Markdown Tables is going to be released in September alongside iOS 13. If you'd like to find out more check out markdowntables.app.