There has been a lot of discussion about the writing application Ulysses recently, very little of it has been about the app itself but instead focusing on the fact that the developer has moved the application (both macOS and iOS) to a subscription model of payment instead of the one-off purchase that it has been up until the present. I must admit I am one of those who has entered into this discussion and is opposed to such applications opting for this payment model. However, having looked at several other options of a minimalist markup text editor I have come to the conclusion that the yearly subscription of $29.99 (for existing owners of both applications) is a price worth paying for one of the best markup text editors on the market for Mac and iOS.
Some basic users may be asking why would I need a text editor with markup when I have many word processors available to me on my system, also, what is markup anyway? Firstly, markup is a form of computer text language that can show on screen actions such as Bold, Underline and Italics without adding ridiculous amounts of script in the background, this enables writers to enter their text and add their basic formatting but also enables them to export the text to whichever destination they want to without having to worry about underlying script being added. Secondly, a text editor such as Ulysses, Byword or IA writer give a distraction free environment for writing while maintaining some features of a word processor that writers like or require such as word counts and other such stats about their document.
I have been using Ulysses for a couple of years now but when it moved to a subscription model I searched for a replacement, however, I quickly realised that Ulysses had become my preferred writing tool and despite my aversion to subscription models the yearly payment was going to be an essential expenditure. So what makes Ulysses such a good writing tool?
On the initial launch of the application, a section in the library is displayed called introduction which gives a basic overview of how to use Ulysses including First Steps, an introduction to Markup, the finer details of using Ulysses and also some shortcuts and tips (img.1). This introduction is very helpful to new users of markup and basic text editors but once the introduction has been mastered it can be turned off and hidden in the application’s preferences. Ulysses gives the user a library pane where the organisation of writing projects is accomplished, writing projects can either be saved on the Mac or iOS device solely or in the cloud via iCloud syncing (Dropbox is available via the external folders option), iCloud is obviously the best option if you wish to access your documents across all Apple devices. The library allows nested folder structures and also, the nice touch of, user selectable icons for each level of the nested structure. The next pane that is available to the user is where your sheets of text are kept this is named the article pane (img.2), the sheets that are shown here are dependent on what is selected in the library, if a top-level folder is selected everything in the lower levels will be shown, however, if one of the bottom level folders is selected only the sheets in the lower level folder will be displayed, this offers the file structure that many users are used to. The final pane is the editing pane where the entry of text takes place and where users will spend most of their time.