July 21, 2016

iA Writer and Not Ulysses for Markdown

iA WriteriA Writer

Product: iA Writer
Price: $8.99
Product: Ulysses
Price: $44.99

For my markdown based writing, I have switched from Ulysses to iA Writer. I still have Ulysses on the machine. I use it when I am writing stuff which is not markdown based, but that doesn't happen too often. So, I have effectively stopped using Ulysses. All of the blog posts you see on iPadpedia.net is produced with a combination of Sublime Text 3 and iA Writer. Ulysses doesn't play a part in it anymore.

So, what happened?

iA Writer has been redesigned with full support for MultiMarkdown. It has been enhanced with directory support and it has made the act of writing markdown better. Ulysses has been busy making the iOS version universal. I am sure that there are people who are excited by that. Unfortunately, that doesn't include me.

What does full support for MultiMarkdown mean?

Tables, table of contents, footnotes, cross reference, citations, definition lists, math, metadata and a glossary are all supported by MultiMarkdown. All of these things are not important to me. But tables and footnotes surely are. iA Writer does them and does them well. Ulysses is asleep at the wheel.

I think the issue is philosophical. iA Writer was quite lost with version 2.0 or Writer Pro as it was known. They didn't know what they wanted to be. In version 3.0, iA Writer decided to be a MultiMarkdown editor. From that decision, the rest of the feature set becomes understandable. If you are going to support MultiMarkdown, this is what the feature set will look like:

  1. Support all of MultiMarkdown.
  2. Concentrate your design focus on making markdown easier to write.
  3. Support the file system. Manage the user files.
  4. Add Syntax Check.
  5. Add Templates to control output.
  6. Support iCloud and Dropbox. iA Writer's multi-OS presence makes this mandatory.

iA Writer does all these things and does them well.

Ulysses doesn't yet know whether it wants to be a markdown editor or not. It supports Gruber's Markdown but doesn't support any of the enhancements made to it by others. In fact, Ulysses introduces a Markdown XL which is ill-defined. It seems to struggle with supporting any of the markdown extensions, no check boxes, no tables, no inbuilt support for footnotes. It is a great environment to write in, but it is not a great environment to write markdown in. It is a product which is getting a lot of attention and has some very vocal and rabid users. So, it has done some things very well, but it is not for me. I am looking for a markdown editor and Ulysses doesn't support markdown well enough to make the grade. It is a pity really, I love writing in it.

At this point, if you are interested in writing in markdown, you are encouraged to use iA Writer and not Ulysses. iA Writer is the better product for markdown.

I have written about both iA Writer and Ulysses extensively in the past:

Here are the relevant links for iA Writer:

iA Writer Grows Up in Meaningful Ways - iPadpedia

Review of Writer Pro - iPadpedia

Here are the relevant links for Ulysses:

Comparing Ulysses with Write - iPadpedia

Review of Ulysses 1.1 - iPadpedia

Ulysses for iPad - The complete writing solution - iPadpedia

macosxguru at the gmail thingie

iA Writer Ulysses Markdown

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