“Something called Ulysses”

As far as text editors go, I’ve long loved Ulysses, for the Mac — like, nine years, I’ve loved it: it was the first distraction-free writing tool that I ever found, along with integrated notes and other high-context features. Writing a design document, writing a novel, writing a letter, everything was faster in Ulysses.

But it’s always felt like a closed system, and after having used an iPad for three years now, I was beginning to migrate over to Pages, which seamlessly syncs across Mac and iPad. I need a distraction-free writing tool, with no little bits of interface visible while I’m writing, just me and the text and the background of the page. Pages comes super-close. The frustrating thing about Pages is how it can only think about text as, well, pages, like physical pages with physical boundaries and generous margins on all four sides. But when I’m writing, I don’t want to be aware of how the text lays out on the page. That’s not how the text is going to be laid out when it gets published, so page breaks are distracting.

Yesterday, Ulysses III came out. It can use Apple’s iCloud to sync writing projects and their documents between a Mac and an iPad, thanks to their iPad app, Daedalus Touch. Their touch app uses a different — and extremely satisfying — visual model for managing projects and files. It’s not inappropriate that their two apps have different names, and it’s super-lovely what they do together.

Today, I’m using it to put together some finished chapters for the second Hero Worship book. Now that I can smoothly bounce between the two devices, I think it’ll go a lot more quickly. Here’s to hoping.

Ulysses III in the Mac App Store

Daedalus Touch in the Apple App Store


Thanks, Adobe.

Adobe Application Manager tells me I need to update something, so I do. After updating the one item there was to update, the item now reads “Updated” out to its right – but even though everything has been updated, the application hangs on to my cognition for no reason rather than prompting me to quit, like any good installer should. Even worse, the “Update All” button remains lit. Even yet worse, it’s functional – you can click the button, it just doesn’t do anything. Give me the simple protection of my time by offering to quit the app.

It might help if it was clear if the user’s context were clear, but given that “All” and “Updates” also nearly always only show the same items, maybe it doesn’t matter that it’s so hard to tell which one is selected. But I was only more confused when I realized that they didn’t take the time to do something well spaced when laying out the other elements on the page. The “Ps” icon, the labels for “Photoshop CS6” and “New features!” would be so easy to make as nice and as clean as you’d want an interface to the world’s greatest graphic design tools to be.

Adobe Application Manager screenshot

And this is just the one time this past month of having recently returned to Adobe’s Creative Suite software that I finally simply broke down and took a screenshot. Their software is full of this stuff.

Thanks, Adobe, for the frustration that drives us to be better than the great tools you give us. It is inspiring.