It’s been an interesting few days of trying other writing tools and comparing against Ulysses on the iPad. I’ve tried Byword, IAWriter, and MWeb. They all have their bright spots but I cannot see how any can compete against Ulysses for my use cases. I want something that both lets me get to writing but also has some organization and management that is easy to get to. The apps fall into a few possible domains of use. The first is that they get out of the way to let you write. This is what IAWriter does and perhaps MWeb. The second is that they offer some organizational and functional management and perhaps that is Byword.
What none of them do is treat the whole writing experience like Ulysses. Each of them has a downfall or limitation. The document management for MWeb is rather simple and moving documents around the iCloud library is hard. You have to know when and where to slide or rename or whatever. I would call it clumsy. The applications that offer a full on writing experience like IAWriter make it difficult to publish to WordPress or finding the correct sequence because they are about writing I believe.
What I need is a tool that does the variety of things well. I like a pleasant user interface but that has a set of powerful tools right under the covers. I want it shared (for now) and be able to let me see my posts on my phone. All can do this. I finally do not need something to interface with github or other things like Jekyll.
After all this testing and experimentation, its funny to come back to Ulysses and admit that its the best. I think it offers the best combination of management and then writing or writing and then management a person needs. I am unsure of how the subscription model works for a single device that still wants to use iCloud to store and protect the files. I’ve bought the 200gb of storage there primarily to last me some bit of time and make the space available for all the applications which want to use storage. I did ask my friend Mikka Luster via email to weigh in because he is more adept at the whole document management and writing thing.
So it comes down to a set of things which work on Ulysses and a set of things which require some lifting on the other applications. Some just don’t seem to make use of the features of IOS 11 that much and others have a clumsy management or library implementation. I want the best of all worlds for when I write. When I get to a single device I want a composite set of features that lets me be productive whether on a bus in Japan or a train in China. The one thing must be consistent as well and offer the best of a set of tools to write, publish, and save off to a friendly cloud.
If you are looking for an app to write with but you real considerations are productivity and not just setting down to write stream of consciousness, you probably want Ulysses. I would go with IAWriter otherwise but I don’t like how it deals with images. MWeb while nice for creativity; falls short when I want to move things around.
This has been fun and I’ve spent a bit of money and the nice thing is if I wanted to go to another solution, I have them. I can download one easily.