The best writing app for the Mac just got better
Over the last year a writing app called Ulysses has slowly but surely lured me away from the likes of iAWriter and Scrivener – two very classy apps in their own right – because of its elegant focus on the act of writing and its beautiful, intuitive simplicity when it comes to organising your workflow and documents.
Its concept of writing ‘sheets’ is key to its flexibility and something I’ve come to love; sheets can be split into manageable page-like sections and later glued together into a cohesive set, letting you temporarily break down the process of writing, set realistic targets and make any writing task feel a lot less intimidating.
For example, if I’m writing a tutorial that involves a number of word-limited steps, I can create a space for my first step, split it off from my introductory text, set a word count goal (approximate/at least/at most) and duplicate my step sheet as many times as I need. If, once written, I decide a step needs shunting up in the order or taken back a step or two, I can just drag said sheet around in the sheet list and reposition it to my liking.
I can also glue steps together when I’ve decided on a final order and view them as one page to see how they flow or move them around in my document. If I’m happy with their position and arrangement then I can merge the step sheets together with my main sheet, ready to share the document via the Export option.
But I’m not here to wax about Ulysses’ established features, I want to highlight the new ones.
Split View support
I received an early preview of Ulysses 2.2 which has gotten a major refresh to make it fit right into the aesthetic of OS X 10.11 El Capitan and support its new window management tools. There’s full integration of Split View for instance, so now you can edit your text as well as live preview it in its final format alongside the editing window, like so.
This is really useful for finding inconsistencies in formatting or errors in your markdown and correcting them on the fly.
You can now also choose to automatically hide the toolbar when scrolling and typing – even if you’re not using fullscreen mode – making for a more distraction-free writing environment.
The big pull with this release though is Ulysses’ seamless integration with the online democratised publishing network, Medium.
Thanks to Medium’s integration token option which is offered at the bottom of your Medium account settings page, you can now quick export a Ulysses-edited document straight to your Medium account, so that your writing (including any images) is uploaded in draft format, ready for you to click publish.
But why not publish a story directly, rather than upload a draft? The developers have responded to this question with a fair and, I think, legitimate answer.
Some of Medium’s more advanced functions such a pull quotes and header images aren’t yet supported outside of the Medium browser interface, which means there’s scope for tinkering with your story to get it looking exactly how you like once it’s in your online account.
Also, there’s something to be said about giving your work one last read-through in a different environment.
It’s like printing a page of writing for proofing purposes – you often pick up errors or spot necessary changes when the text is outside of the zone in which it was originally composed. I know I do. For me, the draft status of a Medium upload makes plenty of sense.
Ulysses 2.2 for Mac is available in the Mac App Store now. I can only recommend it.