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Ulysses for iPad shaping up nicely...

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Posted by MadaboutDana
Feb 12, 2015 at 12:07 PM

 

A bit of sniffing about and some correspondence with Soulmen has revealed that yes, they are producing an iPhone app (eventually).

Making Ulysses for iOS an even more tempting prospect. It’s already got one of the fastest sync setups with Daedalus.

Contrast this with Letterspace, which is, in many ways, superb. One of the best hybrid Markdown editors out there. But the synchronisation is deffo hit and miss. That’s partly because they’re using iCloud, but partly because there’s clearly some kind of polling issue that doesn’t always work. Anyway, the nice folks at Letterspace have assured me that updates are imminent.

A tight race between Ulysses and Letterspace can only be a good thing for all us CRIMPers! With Quiver acting as a very exciting outsider coming up the back straight…

 


Posted by jaslar
Feb 12, 2015 at 05:44 PM

 

I haven’t used Ulysses, although I spent quite an enjoyable hour this morning writing in Daedulus, which is a brilliant bit of programming.

But I wonder if someone could enlighten me about the advantages of Ulysses (and I think Scrivener, too). As I understand it, both have these similarities:

- an editing panel that handles Markdown. I get that some environments are cleaner and more fun to write in.
- a “notebook” type panel (or panels) that allows for the collection and some kind of re-arrangement of notes, snippets. That re-arrangement piece of a library of related notes is the outlining connection.

So I’m guessing the eagerness to have Ulysses on the iPad rather than just Daedulus is that ready access to the library of snippets. Is that right? Or is it the re-ordering of that information?

Just as an aside, when I look at Letterspace, I don’t really see a difference (other than support for the tasks markup, and the use of gestures) between that and Simplenote. That is: a collection of individual notes, searchable, taggable,with a nice editor attached. But Letterspace is limited to iCloud, whereas I can get to Simplenote data from any device. And I don’t see the ability to manipulate the order of anything.

Have I got this right?

 


Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Feb 12, 2015 at 06:32 PM

 

Just speaking for myself, the advantages of Ulysses and Scrivener go way beyond any markdown capabilities, though they both handle markdown nicely—Ulysses especially is built around markdown as an editing environment. What they both do, as you allude to in your comment about the “notebook” panel, is to do your writing in as small a segments as you want and need, then you can re-organize them as needed. They both also let you read your total document in one window, so you can see what you’ve written as a whole, rather than simply a collection of segments.

Scrivener has a lot more whistles and bells for managing your work, collecting research and more.

As for why I’m looking forward to Ulysses for iPad, there are several functions in Ulysses that you currently can’t use in Daedalus. For example, regular Ulysses documents have an attachment bar, which allows you to associate notes, images and files with the open document. But if you’re sharing files with Daedalus, this feature is disabled, as Daedalus does not support it.

Steve Z.

jaslar wrote:
I haven’t used Ulysses, although I spent quite an enjoyable hour this
>morning writing in Daedulus, which is a brilliant bit of programming.
> >But I wonder if someone could enlighten me about the advantages of
>Ulysses (and I think Scrivener, too). As I understand it, both have
>these similarities:
> >- an editing panel that handles Markdown. I get that some environments
>are cleaner and more fun to write in.
>- a “notebook” type panel (or panels) that allows for the collection and
>some kind of re-arrangement of notes, snippets. That re-arrangement
>piece of a library of related notes is the outlining connection.
> >So I’m guessing the eagerness to have Ulysses on the iPad rather than
>just Daedulus is that ready access to the library of snippets. Is that
>right? Or is it the re-ordering of that information?
> >Just as an aside, when I look at Letterspace, I don’t really see a
>difference (other than support for the tasks markup, and the use of
>gestures) between that and Simplenote. That is: a collection of
>individual notes, searchable, taggable,with a nice editor attached. But
>Letterspace is limited to iCloud, whereas I can get to Simplenote data
>from any device. And I don’t see the ability to manipulate the order of
>anything.
> >Have I got this right?

 


Posted by MadaboutDana
Feb 12, 2015 at 06:50 PM

 

Hm. I think there are a number of desirable features in the perfect Markdown editor. Nothing has yet combined all of them.

But first, Letterspace: the “different” thing about Letterspace is the combination of Tags (= hashtags) and Mentions (= @tags). Plus an extremely good Markdown editor with support for GitHub-style task lists (not many Markdown editors have this, in fact).

Going back to the perfect Markdown editor, in no particular order:
- support for access to different folders, and ideally different synchronisation systems (Ulysses, LightPaper, TextNut; Quiver to some extent)
- shortcuts to favourite folders/groups of folders (Ulysses, LightPaper, TextNut, Quiver)
- sidebar with good navigation options (see above) (Ulysses, LightPaper, TextNut, Quiver, Scrivener)
- tagging, ideally with support for multiple tags per note (Ulysses, Letterspace, TextNut, Quiver)
- a really good Markdown editor, ideally supporting hybrid Markdown (i.e. indicating what codes are doing even in “edit” view) plus editable HTML preview (Ulysses, Letterspace, Quiver)
- support for the widest possible variety of Markdown variants (including e.g. GitHub-style tasks, Multimarkdown tables etc. etc.) (probably only TextNut, so far)
- support for grouping of notes (Keep Everything, Ulysses, Scrivener)
- folding! (Quiver - kind of, FoldingText; a good Markdown outliner is sorely needed. I can only think of one so far: CottonNotes on iOS, and that seems to have died)
- a toggle allowing you to default to “view” rather than “edit” mode when reading notes (rather than editing them). I don’t understand why more Markdown editors don’t have this, in fact, since Markdown per se is actually rather ugly, despite its convenience. Keep Everything is a good example of an editor that defaults to preview mode - you have to switch to edit mode to change something (I prefer this in any case, it’s just good discipline in my view)
- a good range of export options, including exporting of multiple notes or folders, into at the very least HTML, PDF, OPML
- cross-platform versions that all have more or less the same features (Letterspace, eventually also Ulysses, maybe also Scrivener, hopefully also Quiver)

That’s my basic list of criteria for evaluation of a new Markdown editor. I like FoldingText, but dislike its lack of cross-platform support and idiosyncratic weirdness. I don’t much like dual-pane Markdown editors - I’d much rather be able to fix preview as the default option when I first open a list of notes. Of all of the dual-pane options, LightPaper is by far the most elegant.

You’ll see I don’t mention a whole bunch of highly thought-of editors such as Byword, Writedown, iaWriter, Write etc. etc. That’s because they’re not differentiated enough and don’t do enough of the above. They are, in short, all showing their age. The most interesting developments are relatively new (apart, perhaps, from writers’ favourites Ulysses and Scrivener, upon whom everybody is waiting with bated breath). On the whole, new apps such as Letterspace, Quiver, Keep Everything and TextNut are showing the way forward. That’s probably why Soulmen have suddenly started pushing the iOS version of Ulysses.

Markdown is a brilliant concept, but it’s one that originated with geeks who preferred working in VIM and other programming editors than soiling their Olympian minds with the overweight applications used by the hoi polloi. Aesthetics were never high on their list of considerations - speed, efficiency and transportability were.

In the meantime, other people have seen the advantages in this kind of slimmed-down approach. But there are some seriously boring/clunky implementations out there. And I wonder how many developers actually sit down and ask their regular users what they really like - and don’t like - about their apps? I wouldn’t know, I’m not a developer.

I’d love to hear others’ criteria for evaluating Markdown editors, as well. Actually, we could open a new thread. Let’s see if there’s any interest first.

 


Posted by MadaboutDana
Feb 12, 2015 at 06:52 PM

 

I’d also agree with Steve, incidentally, about the value of a total editing environment of the kind provided by Scrivener and Ulysses, and also Quiver. The ability to collect bits and pieces from various sources and attach them to notes is very valuable. Scrivener is especially impressive in this respect. An app that should be impressive in this respect but isn’t, mainly because it’s editor is so poor, is DEVONthink. But it stands out in other ways.

 


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