I’ve signed up for a year of Ulysses, but now I’m thinking of returning to Drafts.
I’ve signed up for a year of Ulysses, but now I’m thinking of returning to Drafts.
@alongtheray Writing in basic Markdown seems more comfortable. Plus have discovered enough Actions in Drafts to ensure a smooth workflow. Ulysses is definitely prettier but I feel like I’m not using it right.
@pratik Hm. I think I just write in basic Markdown using Ulysses anyway, because it's all basically the same. :) But I'm mostly using it as a replacement for word processors and Scrivener at this point; when I was using Drafts I was using it to capture very short stuff rather than long-form text, and I realized I was very rarely using Actions for anything fancy. (Which has let me effectively replace it with Tot, which feels like it's very explicitly designed for short ephemeral things.)
@chipotle I never used Scrivener but I’ve heard people make that comparison. I mean, I see the utility if I was writing a novel or a book (and yes, I’m going to start anytime now) but for quick thoughts or even long form blog posts, I find Drafts sufficient.
@pratik Somewhere in between would be just paying for iA Writer outright. Posts to Micro.blog, handles Markdown properly, and they just added wiki linking if that’s your thing.
@skoobz I do have iAWriter. Is it subscription now? I like the look and feel but had some friction before that I don’t recall now. Ability to push to Blot, Micro.blog, etc. with custom Actions like for footnotes, etc. Drafts is hard to ignore.
@skoobz I’m a combination of Obsidian and IAWriter. Used the latter for years now.
Okay, wait. Apple Notes is in there too. Mostly for work and secure notes.
@pratik Love Drafts but I so wish it handled images with the ease that Ulysses does, especially when I need to reference an image to make additional notes.
@pratik I always waiver with Ulysses. I have been using it since the beginning. Like you I find it prettier and also very polished and that for me means easier on the eyes and easier to work with. That is important for me in terms of producticity. If I am comfortable in an environement, I'll enjoy working there more.
However, I also like having plain text files and basic Markdown...I've just got used to it. So iA Writer gets (currently) more usage than Ulysses. I can work with plain text in Ulysses, but it is not as clean as iA Writer in that department, I feel.
Drafts I am moving away from and I have used that since the beginning as well. I have some months left on my subscription, but I am finding that a combination of The Iconfactory's Tot and Siri Shortcuts is able to do most of what I want to do, and I am enjoying building the Shortcuts. Time will tell, but that is where I am headed (and I'm writing a blog post about it).
@pratik I was using Ulysses, but switched to iA Writer and also picked up Scrivener for iPadOS for novel writing. There was a post on Micro.blog—I think maybe yours?—that talked about subscription fatigue, and it definitely got me thinking about Ulysses. Now that I’ve used iA Writer again as well as being a heavy Drafts user, I realize how Ulysses handles Markdown is really awkward. Ironically, of course, I recently read a different post here about someone losing files in iA Writer, and of course it has me a bit concerned as I’ve never had issues with Ulysses. At the end of the day I still have time left on my subscription, so I can just as easily change my mind and go back if this new setup doesn’t work out.
With regards to Drafts, it’s absolutely indispensable for me and unlikely to ever fall out of favour. Despite the issue of image handling, it can post directly to Micro.blog and Mastodon, handles everything I throw at it with aplomb, and has incredible Markdown support. Figuring out some way of image handling could allow it to be my sole blogging app if I so choose.
@chipotle As someone looking to move to Scrivener, how do you find Ulysses in comparison for long-form writing? Is there anything you miss from Scrivener, and what made you decide to drop it?
@pimoore @pratik I think my most used are iA Writer and Taio. I'm often surprised in conversations about Markdown editors on Mac and iPad that Taio isn't brought up more often. Fantastic app. Constantly updated, one-time purchase, supports the latest iPadOS app features, discrete markdown/text files and has it's own clipboard/shortcuts system built in. I couldn't begin to do it justice here but if you're at all looking at options in this space give it a look. apps.apple.com/us/app/ta...
@Denny I’ve heard of Taio before, but only in passing never having looked into it. Looks really interesting, I like the built in support for diagrams and LaTeX. Probably a rarity outside of dedicated apps that handle those formats.
Edit: here’s part 4 which links to all of them.
@pimoore Awesome. I’m going to dive into this tomorrow. Drafts on the Mac doesn’t have a preview, right?
@pimoore Ulysses is nicer, I think, if you're writing in Markdown; Scrivener kinda-sorta supports it but it's clearly not the focus. A lot of what I write goes out in multiple formats—rich text, Markdown, HTML, occasionally even Word—and Ulysses is just really easy for handling that. And, if you use both a Mac and an iPad, Ulysses is virtually identical on both, while Scrivener's iPad version is pretty limited compared to its Mac counterpart (unless that's changed in the last couple of years, admittedly). Scrivener has more controls over its export system and can also act as a kind of digital scrapbook, collecting web pages, images, PDFs, etc., for notes/research, which is neat. The big thing I initially missed was Scrivener's index card view. (Which IIRC was one of the things that was better on the Mac than the iPad, though!)
@pimoore Hey - just jumping in here as a user of Scrivener and a former Ulysses user. Scrivener's export system cannot be beat, but it is a cumbersome app. It stores everything in packaged files, not individual text files, so I don't like it for blogging or even short stories. I only use it for fiction writing because it can store character sheets, research, and I can move scenes around easily via drag-and-drop.
I use iA writer for blogging and my Grim & Mild writing, as I like having basic Markdown files that I can port from app to app without having to worry about compatibility.
@hcmarks @pratik @pimoore This is a hard decision, so I haven't really made it. I use both Ulysses and Scrivener. Ulysses works so well for blogs, newsletters, short articles, client reports, scripts, and posting to micro.blog. Scrivener, though a little clunky at times, is great for novels. I like the project-by-project approach and the scrapbook capability is vital. I miss working in Markdown in Scriv, and love working in Markdown in Ulysses.
@pratik Thank you for the English spelling 😅
If you are in the market for different flavours of Markdown previews, there are actions that offer preview formats. Also on the Mac you can get a get streaming, as you type preview through using Markedapp.
@crossingthethreshold I realize there are templates for Previews. Actions too? Didn’t get the second part.
@leeschneider I thought about switching to Ulysses for novels - I believe Matt Gemmell uses it for his - but I can't beat Scrivener's ability to export to ePub with all of its specific settings. I can get a Kindle-ready file straight out of Scrivener pretty quickly.
Though it looks like I'm now down to only 2-3 word processors based on my uses. Scrivener for novels, iA Writer for Grim & Mild scripts/blog posts/micro.blog, and Drafts for quick notes. Though, once Notational Velocity comes out with its new version, I may switch to that for one-off notes.
@leeschneider Sorry - nvUltra. Not sure if/when Brett Terpstra is going to release that. It's been in development for a while.
@pratik Yes actions. Search for “Markdown preview” in the actions directory.
On the Mac there is Marked, an app ($13.99) which offers previews for Markdown plain text files. Different preview themes can be downloaded. Used in conjunction with Drafts it is possible for Marked to offer a real time preview of your current draft as you type. This page of the Drafts documentation explains how to set this up.
@crossingthethreshold Awesome! That makes my move back to Drafts and perhaps iA Writer even more likely
@crossingthethreshold @pratik this is a brilliant conversation. It is reminding me to look into, a Day One alternative. Subscription vs one off payment is a big thing for me. On the other hand Day One is a beautiful app. 🤷🏽♂️
@hcmarks @leeschneider I'm iPad only, so I'd have to use an external app such as Pages to output epub. Scrivener for iOS doesn't currently support doing this, though I'm hoping it will be added at some point.
@Munish @crossingthethreshold Which app are you considering? DayOne and Drafts have different intentions at least for me. I treat DayOne as a personal journaling tool (for my eyes only). Drafts is intended to be a starting point for text that will end up elsewhere in different formats.
@crossingthethreshold Thanks for recommending Marked. It's an awesome app and love that it's a one-off payment. Also, I use another app (Bunch) by the same developer. He's great and quick to respond to support emails.
@Munish Ulysses is subscription-only too so similar to DayOne. So is Drafts but lot cheaper than Ulysses. I'm grandfathered into DayOne's Plus account so don't have some features like video notes, etc.
@pratik I'm pleased that you have found Marked useful. I find it so flexible in that it can be used with so many apps. I am aware of Bunch but have not found a use for it yet. What do you use it for?
I have used Bretts' nvAlt for notes, and have been beta testing nvUltra which has been in beta for an age. It is a beautiful and useful app (if you like taking notes in the format that nvUltra requires). Getting closer I believe...but at times that feels like it is fading into the distance. The price will be the option of a subscription or one time fee. I'm unsure whether I will use it or stick with my non-beta current app?
@Munish I don't believe that there is anything like Marked on iOS. Just preview options within individual apps. I have found ways of creating Markdown previews with Shortcuts, but it is not the same as Marked.
@pimoore Yep, Ulysses is perfect for iPad, from idea straight through to publication. I do use Scriv on my iPad all the time, but for outputs have to go to the Mac OS.
@crossingthethreshold I'm using it mainly to make a conscious effort to focus. For e.g., I now have a Writing with Drafts bunch that opens Drafts, Marked 2, and HazeOver. It also hides the Dock. I have been using Stay for a while now so that arranges the windows as I want them. When I close the bunch, all of those apps quit and the Dock is shown again. Set up similar bunches for iA Writer with related apps or just that one. You can create a Work Bunch or a Social Media Break bunch.
@pratik Thank you. Not only have I learnt more about Bunch, I'll probably explore further to see if there is a use there for me, but also HazeOver and Stay.
@Munish Shortcuts is not as pretty as in app preview options tend to be, but if I need something quickly in iOS, it does the job.
Wow - only just spotted this thread - lots of good stuff.
I have SetApp - which means I get Ulysses for free - and still don’t use it.
For me everything Starts in Drafts - and Actions pushes posts to whichever of my two blogs it should go to, and obsidian, and Things - mainly.
But it also pushes out to Obsidian - where I have been consolidating all my non-public notes.
One Obsidian use case is that it is becoming my repository of reusable material that then funnels off to pages / comments et al.
I have iaWriter which is used mainly to write to blot .... BUT ... toying with closing those two blogs down anyway.
1) is an image only (Image - not photography) - and will likely just disappear 2) is words - and where I have been steadily archiving all my old unused blogs to ... for 20bucks it might just stay there - but might move into micro.blog ... #decisions #decisions
Also want to close down DayONE - and have those files sit in Obsidian - but hitting tech snags.
I recently discovered Bunch - but not yet found a real use case for it.
I was using hook - but can't justify its price - but it sure would be useful to have it so that on obsidian files where I include hook links to where the material has been used in say 'pages' docs.
Still don’t get why deep links are just not part of the OS ... I mean - they are clearly there!
Oh - and of course I have Craft - which I love- but it is hard to work out how it really fits in - but anything there also started in Drafts once upon a time.
@pratik Before finding this thread, I had just finished setting up a group and actions for blogging in Drafts. Everything starts there. I’m writing this in Drafts.
I purchased iA Writer so I could drop my Ulysses subscription. But you know what? I prefer Ulysses. Seeing a screen full of markdown links is not conducive to writing. At least not for me. And Ulysses as an app fades into the background, while I’m always aware that I’m writing in the iA Writer environment.
I’d love to find a replacement for Day One, so I can also drop the subscription. But Day One does what it does very well. I can’t see getting rid of it.
I use Obsidian for making notes. Obviously. But I hate using the app because it is so clunky.
I’ve used Evernote for over a decade. I should dump the subscription and use Apple’s Notes app since I’m already paying for the service. But here again, Evernote wins out because I find the Notes app to be unappealing to me.
@JohnPhilpin Yup. Was hoping you would chime in 😎 So why not Ulysses?
I have a Blot blog as well as host my simple professional web presence there. I’m going to keep Blot coz it’s the most simple setup. I’ve set up Drafts well enough to publish on Blot including images.
@josephaleo iA Writer was my first ever dedicated notes app. It looks to have changed a bit so want to give it one more try. I like it at a fundamental level.
I thought I would like Ulysses with its mix between markdown and WYSIWYG editor and I did for a while but it started getting in the way. I prefer pure Markdown now as long as I can preview it before publishing.
@pratik I’m perfectly willing and planning to be open minded about moving away from Ulysses. If I find enough friction or that iA and Scrivener aren’t working then I’ll move back. My sub doesn’t expire until next year so I have time to experiment.
@pratik What is your workflow/actions for posting to blot including images? Images in drafts has been what pushes me away each time.
@tuckerk Use a combination of Draft Actions and Shortcuts. Need two different ones for iOS and macOS. But can only add one image at a time. Need to figure out how to add a set. Most of the work was thanks to @jmreekes
@tuckerk I use Blot and have a couple iOS shortcuts to automatically push photos to the blog. One of the shortcuts lets me shoot straight from the camera to the blog which I use on live hikes. It's fun! I'd be happy to answer any questions.
@pratik yes Blot is really cool - and I get a second site - but for me, it is a third and even fourth site - not needed!
As for Ulysses - I get the 'beauty' angle - but it just hasn’t stuck with me.
@alongtheray is your text and images for posts starting in Drafts, and then using the shortcut from there? Can you share the shortcuts?
@leeschneider I wrote 6 novels in Scrivener. It's been vital to my writing workflow, but I'm at a point where I'm bouncing from Mac, to iPad, to iPhone, and I need something reliable that syncs without issue. Ulysses seems to allow me a lighter-weight platform while also giving me the opportunity to migrate everything back into Scrivener fairly easily later on if I change my mind.
@hcmarks Matt Gemmell really opened my eyes to the power of Ulysses back when I first read those articles. Ironically, he was a hardcore Scrivener user before making the switch. I also remember him originally blogging that creative writing should be in rich text, but eventually had grown to appreciate the flexibility of Markdown. Knowing myself as well as I do, I’m not writing Ulysses off just yet. :)
@pimoore I used to feel the same way about rich text, mainly because I wasn't self-publishing at the time. My concern isn't the export to ePub - it's the export to .doc so I can send sample chapters to agents. Luckily, conversion is pretty simple. I tested it today. But yeah, I wrote off his preference for Ulysses back when he switched and now I'm kicking myself for not jumping on the bandwagon sooner
@pratik I did use it for blogging for a short time, but ultimately moved to iA instead. It can publish to Wordpress and a few other platforms.
@hcmarks That sounds like the perfect workflow. Whenever I write on the iPad using Scrivener, I immediately rush home from the café, light several candles, speak an incantation, and hope that my work synched properly with the desktop app. The incantations have been working so far!
@leeschneider @hcmarks We at Micro.blog demand video evidence of this eccentric workflow, Lee. 😉
@pimoore Took me a while but I read through Scott's posts. However, it's aimed at publishing via iPad, right? Currently, I use my iMac for publishing long form. I publish on Micro.blog and Blot. I have discovered Actions uploads the image to the right folders and inserts the markdown code in my post. I need separate Actions for macOS and iOS but so far, it's working out. @camacho
@pratik How are you getting images to upload to Micro.blog directly? I tried the workflow using the preview Drafts folder and the link is inserted in the post, but not to Micro.blog itself when I published.
@Gaby BTW don't need Marked 2 for previewing. Can always use the in-built ones that Draft provides.
@pratik My thing with Drafts is that, Ulysses does a great job formating things, with drafts I need to me more aware of spaces, quoting and such to make sure everythig formats correctly. I hope this makes sense
@Gaby @pratik What’s great about this in comparison to Ulysses is that I tend to write all my micro posts in Drafts. This action means I can still publish ones including images, as I just don’t feel like short posts need to be clogging up Ulysses’—or any other app’s—library.
@pimoore @pratik What library? lol, Ulysses is a conduit, a gateway between my words and my blog, I care not for "organization" or library, as long as everything is searchable, I do not care. In fact, once something is published, it could be deleted for all I care. Also everything published goes to Day One as well
@Gaby @pratik Just that really, I’d rather not have the small posts clogging up the app or having to delete them. If need be I can always search within Micro.blog itself for a post, and chances are if I’m making a correction or update to a post it would be a longer one anyway.
One thing’s for sure, in terms of blog publishing I’d say we’re in the golden age of stellar app choices.
@pimoore @Gaby I actually want to keep a local copy of at least the long form posts. I like that Drafts auto-archives it. Wish I can can figure out how to remove a tag just as you can add a tag once you run an Action. Ulysses is nice but I want to write in basic Markdown. That way my local archives are all plain-text files.
That said, since my wife is now getting a MB Air, I’m looking at Craft for our collaborative planning/writing (traveling, home improvement stuff, etc.) Currently we use Notes.