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Posts tagged with "text editor"

Ulysses Announces Move to Subscription Pricing

Ulysses, the popular text editor and 2016 Apple Design Award winner, announced today that it has adopted a new subscription pricing model. A post on the Ulysses blog by Ulysses co-founder, Marcus Fehn, covers the details:

  • Users can try Ulysses for free for 14 days before deciding whether to subscribe. After 14 days, Ulysses works in a read-only mode, but documents can still be exported.
  • Ulysses subscriptions are $4.99/month or $39.99/year.1
  • Subscribing unlocks both the iOS and macOS versions of Ulysses.
  • Students can subscribe for $10.99 for six-month periods.
  • Existing users can take advantage of a limited-time lifetime discount equal to 50% off the monthly subscription price.
  • Users who recently purchased Ulysses on macOS will be given a free-use period of up to 12 months depending on when they purchased the app. Users who bought Ulysses on iOS can receive up to an additional 6 months of free use.

Existing versions of Ulysses for iOS and macOS have been removed from the App Store and Mac App Store, but have been updated for iOS 11 and High Sierra, so they will continue to work for now if you decide to not subscribe. However, new features will be limited to the new versions of Ulysses that were released on the app stores today. I downloaded both versions and was impressed by the seamless transition, which explained the move to subscription pricing, the limited-time discount offer, and automatically gave me two free months of use even though I bought the apps nearly two years ago.

My personalized onboarding for the macOS version of Ulysses.

My personalized onboarding for the macOS version of Ulysses.

In addition to the announcement on the Ulysses blog, Max Seelemann, one of Ulysses’ founders, wrote a post on Medium explaining the company’s thinking behind moving to a subscription model that is worth reading. It’s a backstory that has become familiar. Pay-once pricing is not sufficient to sustain ongoing development of professional productivity apps like Ulysses. While Ulysses has enjoyed success, funding the kind of development that pro users expect through growing the app’s user base is not sustainable in the long-term. As Seelemann explains, several options were considered over a long period, but ultimately it’s subscription pricing that gives Ulysses the security and flexibility needed to maintain the app.

I’m glad to see Ulysses adopt subscription pricing. I can’t say that would be the case for every app I use, but I use Ulysses every day. I want it to be actively developed and available for a long time. The tricky part about subscriptions, as we’ve discussed in the past on AppStories, is that the value proposition for each person is different. One person’s mission-critical app might be another’s nice-to-have app and the success of a subscription model depends on picking price points that appeal to a sustainable segment of users. However, the flexibility that Ulysses has adopted with different monthly, yearly, and student pricing tiers in comparison to its pre-subscription pricing strikes me as an approach that is well-positioned to succeed.

Ulysses is available as a free download with a 14-day free trial on the App Store and the Mac App Store.


  1. A full rundown of pricing for each country where Ulysses is sold is available on its pricing page↩︎


MindNode for iOS Adds TextBundle Export Option

I've long been using iThoughts to create mind maps for my longform stories, but I've been playing around with the latest MindNode for iOS over the past couple of weeks, and I'm intrigued. MindNode 4.5 for iOS adds the ability to export mind maps as TextBundle archives (more precisely, the compressed version called TextPack), which can then be opened as rich documents in Ulysses.

Launched three years ago, TextBundle is an archive format designed to let Markdown text editors exchange text documents that also contain referenced images. Ulysses, my favorite text editor, fully supports the TextBundle spec, along with the popular Bear and Marked. With the latest MindNode 4.5, this means you can now create a mind map that contains sub-nodes, inline images, and notes, export it as TextBundle to Ulysses (or other apps), and you'll end up with a Markdown-formatted sheet that retains inline attachments.

A mind map with an image becomes a sheet in Ulysses thanks to TextBundle.

A mind map with an image becomes a sheet in Ulysses thanks to TextBundle.

While writing in plain text with Markdown formatting is fantastic for file portability, there's the downside of .txt files not being able to act as containers of other referenced files (such as screenshots). Ulysses' unique handling of sheets breaks with the tradition of plain text files, but it enables for powerful additions to standard Markdown editing, including notes, keywords, and images. I've been writing in Ulysses for over a year, and its non-standard approach to Markdown hasn't been an issue because every time I publish a story or save a draft for a document I'm working on, I also save a second copy of the same file as a regular .txt in my Dropbox. This way, I enjoy the best of both worlds – Ulysses' richer editing environment, and the portability of plain text files synced with Dropbox.

With MindNode, TextBundle, and Ulysses, I can now create mind maps that contain images and notes, outline a document visually, and then copy it to Ulysses, where I can write, edit, and continue to see images referenced inline. This feels like a much better workflow than having to constantly keep my text editor next to a mind map. I'm going to test this system and evaluate how much it could be automated1 over the next few weeks, but, overall, it's a fantastic improvement for MindNode and Ulysses users.

MindNode 4.5 is available on the App Store.


  1. My ideal scenario: I would like to export a .textbundle archive from Ulysses and let Workflow turn local image references into images uploaded somewhere on the web. However, I can't figure out how to open .textbundle archives with Workflow, as changing their extension to .zip won't work. ↩︎

Ulysses 2.8 Adds Touch ID Security and More

The Soulmen released version 2.8 of Ulysses on iOS and macOS today. The headline feature of the update is Touch ID support, which gives users the option to lock Ulysses automatically as soon as it is closed or after one, three, or five minutes. If your iOS device or Mac doesn't support Touch ID, you can require Ulysses to use a password instead. I don't have any particularly secret documents in Ulysses, but there are some documents I would prefer to keep private. With Touch ID, it's so easy to unlock Ulysses that turning it on was a no-brainer.

Read more


TextTool 2.0 Review

TextTool is a powerful text editor with an extensive catalog of built-in text transformations. Developer Craig Pearlman has rewritten the app from the ground up and released it as a new Universal app. With support for URL schemes, JavaScript, and an extension, TextTool’s flexibility has never been greater.

TextTool defies easy categorization. It’s a text editor, but not a place where text lives. You won’t find an archive of past text documents you've created. Instead, TextTool is a temporary place to write, edit, and manipulate text that ends up somewhere else.

Read more


Editorial Updated with 12.9-inch iPad Pro Support, Split View Multitasking

Ole Zorn's Editorial was the text editor that completely reimagined how I could work from iOS. While I have since moved to Ulysses as my primary text editor, I still use Editorial almost daily for its unique Markdown automation. Editorial's combination of Python scripting and visual workflows for plain text editing is unparalleled and there's nothing else like it on the App Store.

After a couple of years without updates and a long TestFlight beta period, Editorial has been updated for iOS Split View and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. There are other changes (the workflow editor has been moved to the accessory panel and the Python editor now opens in a separate tab), but, overall, it's still the same Editorial you know and love, updated for the latest iOS devices. I've been using the beta version of Editorial 1.3 for several months now – being able to keep Editorial next to another app is great for editing and research, and moving back and forth between a document and a workflow is easier.

As for everything else, my coverage of Editorial 1.0, 1.1, and 1.2 still stands; Editorial is the text editor for iOS power users thanks to its excellent automation features, advanced Markdown editing, and TaskPaper integration. As I wrote in November, I still edit all my longform stories in Editorial. Despite the paucity of updates, I love the app as it's a shining example of pro software for iOS.

If you haven't played with Editorial in a while, now's a good time to check it out again (the app is also available at a discounted price of $4.99).


Ulysses Gains Touch Bar Support, Tabs, TextBundles, and More

The Soulmen updated Ulysses for macOS and iOS with interesting new features today. On macOS, Ulysses added support for Apple's latest hardware and software features. If you have a new Touch Bar MacBook Pro, you can customize the Touch Bar with Ulysses functionality. In addition, if you have Sierra installed, multiple sheets can be open at one time in tabs, which is something that I've found handy as I work on things like the MacStories Weekly newsletter where I tend to jump among multiple documents editing and checking formatting.

Another addition to Ulysses on the Mac and iOS is TextBundle and TextPack file support. TextBundle is a specification for bundling together Markdown text and referenced images in a way that’s portable and avoids sandboxing issues for apps sold on the Mac and iOS App Stores. TextBundle files work with documents stored in external folders. I had no trouble creating TextBundles on my Mac, but on iOS, where I had less time to test the update, I could create a TextBundle document, but I was unable to add images to it.

On the Mac, right-click an external document and choose edit to save sheets as TextBundles.

On the Mac, right-click an external document and choose edit to save sheets as TextBundles.

The update to Ulysses also added support for importing Evernote ENEX files on the Mac, but I had trouble with it on one of my machines. After you export notes from Evernote as an ENEX file you should be able to drag the ENEX file into a Ulysses group, the sheet list, or onto the Ulysses Dock icon to import the file. That worked for me on one Mac, but not another where it crashed Ulysses. I can’t tell if my situation is an edge case, but in any event, The Soulmen are working on a fix. In the meantime, I suggest testing Evernote importing with a single note before trying to import a more extensive set. Finally, Ulysses already included the ability to set character, word and page goals for your writing, but with the Mac and iOS updates today, you can also set reading time goals.

Ulysses 2.7 is a free update to existing customers. New users can purchase Ulysses from the Mac App Store for $44.99 and the iOS App Store for $24.99.


iA Writer 4 Adds Markdown Content Blocks

A major update to iA Writer, the popular Markdown text editor for iOS and macOS, has been released earlier today. I didn't have enough time to test the beta of version 4.0, but I'm intrigued by the idea of file transclusion – effectively, a way to structure documents with content blocks based on local file references.

From the blog post:

We’ve made a swath of improvements in iA Writer 4. The meat on the bone is this new file referencing syntax. Every file reference you insert adds a block of content to your document, be it an image, table, or plain text file. These content blocks can then be ordered, stacked and chained with ease.

We think this syntax is a natural extension to Markdown, and it would please us to see other apps use it too. We’re a bit nervous since it’s a deviation, but we’d still like to try it out and hope it finds friends. We’ve published an introductory spec on GitHub to get the ball rolling. Hopefully, content blocks based on file transclusion will become a thing beyond iA Writer. One day all Markdown editors may work like that, but, as IBM famously said, why wait?

You can reference text files, images, and even .csv files to include in the compiled text output as MultiMarkdown tables. I think this is a genius way to handle file embeds in longer documents, and it's something I would consider for future longform projects. I'm not aware of any other Markdown text editor for iOS that implements a similar option. I'd also like to see iA go beyond local file callbacks (which only work with iCloud) and allow documents to be comprised of files stored in iOS document providers. iA Writer is one of the few text editors that fully support opening and editing files from external document providers, so extending that integration to content blocks would be the next logical step.

There's a lot to like in iA Writer; I don't think it's appreciated enough by iOS power users. The aforementioned integration with iOS document providers is solid, there are several editing tools such as writing statistics and parts-of-speech highlights, plenty of output options, support for iCloud versions, and more. I hope that iA will consider adding more features to the app's basic URL scheme in the future – one area where iA Writer is considerably behind alternatives such as Ulysses and 1Writer.

I'm going to play around with iA Writer for a while – I feel like the app deserves more attention, and I want to experiment with document providers and content blocks for MacStories reviews and our newsletters.


Answers to Ulysses Questions

David Chartier:

When preparing my review of Ulysses 2.5 for MacStories, I asked my fine Twitter followers for any questions they’d like me to answer. I covered some of them in my review, but it occurred to me that I left quite a few on the table. Here is my attempt to clean up.

Lots of great answers here. In addition to our review, I also posted an in-depth note on how I've been using Ulysses as my text editor in the latest Monthly Log for Club MacStories members. I'm liking this app a lot.

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