Ulysses: best app for creative writers

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by sash, Sep 2, 2005.

  1. sash macrumors 6502a

    sash

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    #1
    Hi!

    I just would like to attract some attention to Ulysses, which in my view is the best app for creative writers -- but does not get the attention it deserves.

    First of all, I’m NOT connected in any way to the makers of Ulysses, I’m not reselling it etc. I’m just a fulltime (Russian) writer using it for some half a year (I write in Russian, so sorry for my poor English).

    Ulysses is not a general text editor / processor for the general public, it’s not designed to be something like that, so don’t judge it by the standards of a common public text editor / processor. It’s been designed for creative writers (probably less for journalists), and as a tool for this group it’s just marvelous.

    In fact, and especially for a novel writer, switching from something like Word to Ulysses is comparable to switching from handwriting to writing on a typewriter, or from a typewriter to computer (I’ve made all these steps and am almost not exaggerating the feeling).

    I won’t describe all the Ulysses’ features, you can find them on the developer site ( http://www.blue-tec.com/ ).

    Only a few words from my personal experience. The developer's goal was to eliminate everything that could distract a writer from the writing process as such. So almost all formatting tools are gone. Coming from a common text processor, I had to get accustomed. It’s took a few day and in the beginning felt quite annoying: ‘why no tabs?’, ‘how come I can’t center a chapter title?’ -- and so on. But I’ve simply decided to get it a chance. And after a few days I couldn’t come back to Word (or Mellel or whatever). Ulysses gives a writer way more features and possibilities then a common text processor, while all the formatting happens when you’re exporting the text (to a plain text, rtf or doc). And although I still think that some formatting features could be useful (they are present in the notes), I’ll never be able to switch back to Word or something like that. The only reason of such a switch-back -- no Ulysses any more.

    I’ve tried all the other ‘creative writers apps’. CopyWrite is probably the second best, but it’s more suitable for copywriting or journalistic work. Importing the novel I’m working on at the moment (more then 90 000 words) into CopyWrite freezes this poor app on my G5 2 x 2.5 for ages. So at the moment CopyWrite (while cheaper) is not a real competitor to Ulysses; it’s just not in the same league.

    So, give it a try. You both are worth it (writer and the app). If you are not a writer (or a journalist), that app is not for you.

    Thanks,
    Sash

    PS -- Macworld review of Ulysses 1.1 (‘An Outstanding Writing Environment’, 2004): http://www.macworld.com/2004/11/reviews/ulysses/index.php . Developers have just released the new 1.2 version. The app is nearly 2 times cheaper now.
     
  2. sash thread starter macrumors 6502a

    sash

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    #2
    What I've forgotten to say.

    The app is extremely stable.

    Any writer would understand me: loosing a few paragraphs is a writers ultimate disaster, as you can't write the same text twice.

    Some time ago I've lost 3 pages of my second book (I was using Word, and for some reason I couldn't restore the lost text after the crash). How I managed to come through this ordeal without loosing my mind -- I'm still wondering. Had to be a divine intervention.

    In Ulysses you will never loose a word. Even if you'll try to. I've tried (while testing how stable the app was and what will happens if Ulysses / Mac would crash).

    BTW, in all this time I haven't experienced a single crash of Ulysses.

    Thanks,
    Sash
     
  3. kalisphoenix macrumors 65816

    kalisphoenix

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2005
    #3
    The only writing tool I use is MediaWiki. Beats the hell out of butcher paper.

    If you want a clean interface, just use TextEdit :p I never understood this whole "I need the right program" vibe. Whatever helps, I guess.
     
  4. Josh macrumors 68000

    Josh

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Location:
    State College, PA
    #4
    Wonder if this would be any good for organizing reports and other academic papers :confused:
     
  5. sash thread starter macrumors 6502a

    sash

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    #5
    Try it, you'll understand... My problem was to find a stable text editor / processor working with Russian (spellcheck etc.). Word was inadequate. No Russian spellcheck in X (Word X/2004 doesn't support cocoAspell). Too many crashes (in all classic versions). It could happen up to every 5 minutes or so (I'm speaking about the situation of a few years ago, now it's more stable). So I began to try the 'creative writing tools'.

    You can't imagine what does it mean to write (novels) on Mac if your language is not fully supported by Mac OS. So you're just looking and looking for something decent. An alternative? -- MS Windows. Stable Word, decent spellcheck, full support of Russian. But I love Mac.

    And Ulysses is not just about 'a clean interface'. How could I explain? You know, you can do prepress in Word, and you can do it in inDesign or Quark-Xpress. Got it? Ulysses is just designed for writers. While all other things are designed for an office rat.

    Are you a professional writer? If you are, try it. In a few days you'll understand what I mean. That's not just another text editor.

    Thanks,
    Sash
     
  6. sash thread starter macrumors 6502a

    sash

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    #6
    Could anybody imagine a decent musician using 30 dollar guitar? Why do they want to play on the best instruments? Why are they buying and buying new instruments?

    Can you imagine a singer singing in a $10 Logitech micro? Why do they all want a specialized, good staff?

    Such 'vibes' are not surprising anybody, so why a writer should not get a good writing tool helping him to write?
     
  7. sash thread starter macrumors 6502a

    sash

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    #7
    I don't know actually... Never used the app for anything except fiction.
     
  8. Mindcrime macrumors regular

    Mindcrime

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2003
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #8
    I think Ulysses is way too overpriced for what it doesn't offer, and I hate its UI more than most apps. I also own Copywrite, and while I think it has a much better design and it is much more reasonably priced, it too annoys the ever-living fsck out of me (total dog crap export options, and formatting exported RTFs the way the developer thinks they need to be formatted, which fits no format known to man or editor). The fundamental problem with both apps is that the developers are (I am assuming) wannabe writers/creative types, and they're pretty much designing apps that fit their individual work habits. The apps certainly don't play well with my work habits. Full screen mode is nice, though in that regard Copywrite takes the cake hands down.

    At the end of the day, I inevitably go back to Word, because it does what I need it to do and I can customize it how I see fit. All those "extra, unncessary" features that Ulysses brags about not having are irrelevent if I chose not to use them; and at least with Word I can format my manuscripts according the way my editors like them.
     
  9. sash thread starter macrumors 6502a

    sash

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    #9
    It offers basically the same set of tools as the other CW tools, but from my point of view is just better at all points... CopyWrite is cheaper, but doesn't work for me (freezes under a big novel), is ugly as hell (de gustibus non est disputandum) and provides you with a license for 2 Macs, while Ulysses for 3.

    They've simply used an old mail.app interface, that's all. And they haven't done it even good from my point of view. Just a plain rip. Somebody could even use such word as plagiarism. Should we cheer them up for not being able to make their own unique look? I don't think so.

    You know, I was 'a wannabe writer' in my early youth, and I knew tons of such guys. They all share one common thing: they write fiction and not programs. As I understand, developers of these apps are full-time programmers. Not everybody likes to write literature.

    Yes, here you have a point: you still need a decent word processor to bring the exported manuscript to the right shape. Here I see just another proof that the makers of Ulysses are not 'wannabe writers': they seem not fully understand this aspect of the writing process. That's why I was talking about the need of more formatting tools, which would survive exporting. You could actually export a text in a nearly fully acceptable form, but for some final touches you still need a word processor. Although their export plug-ins cover almost all formatting things.
     

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