Resolved Ulysses for Mac before and after the October update

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by mortenandersen, Dec 3, 2015.

  1. mortenandersen macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    Location:
    Norway
    #1
    This is about Ulysses for Mac before and after the upgrade to version 2.2 in October, about an important part of the user interface has been changed to the worse.


    Before the last main upgrade in October, one of the basic screenview options in Ulysses was the ability to have all three panes (or two of them) visible on the screen: That is, being in the act of writing, reading what one just have been writing, the writer was given the optimal screenview: Reading and writing, together with at the same time taking a look/glance at the sidebar(s) [one or two] for reflecting on or thinking about the wholeness of the writing process.


    Or the writer might periodically change the screenview to just one of the panes, viewing only the Editor, which is great in the periods when one is being “in the flow” in the writing process.


    It was (and still is) easy to switch between these two modes.


    In this way Ulysses was a very useful app for both writing and – if desired, at the same time/screenview – looking at the structure of the writing, the so called sheet list, to consider the writing process from that level.


    After the October upgrade: With the upgrade from version 2.1.x to 2.2 in October this basic and main beneficial screenview option disappeared, because the developers, the Soulmen, introduced what was meant to be an advantage: the two sidebars showing as overlays over the left part of the text in the Editor. The result is that the pane that very often is your main focus of writing or reading what you just have written, the Editor, now has a considerable part of its text hidden under the overlay, when the user is selecting the two or three pane view.


    This is a serious and dramatical visual change from the 2.1.x versions that was available until October, and in fact this earlier screenviews are still shown on their websites. However, the new version, 2.2.x, now only shows the whole three (or two) panes (Editor and one/two sidebars) when the number of characters per line is very limited. Indeed, to 64 characters per line!


    This “fundamentally reworked the behavior of the sidebars” (their own words describing the change) and the dramatical reduction of the viewable number of characters per line for not having the overlay to hide the text are two changes that changes the UI in a very negative way, in my opinion. Regarding the overlay in itself, I cannot see it serves any purpose; in fact, I find it just as easy to look at the sidebars NOT as overlays, but only as sidebars as they were before the upgrade.


    Moreover – and this in very important for many writers – after the upgrade, given the situation described above, the often most actively used pane, the left part of the text in the Editor, is in fact hidden (!) in the two or three pane view, making it impossible to use in such a two (or three) pane view, as far as I can see. Because when you try and write in the Editor, the sidebar(s) which is/are overlayed, disappear, if the number of characters per line is over a very small number, a far too small number.


    IMO, this foundamental change in the user interface is NOT AT ALL a development to a better interface in the writing process. On the contrary, even if there may be some advantages that I don’t see or that not are important to me, this radical change in version 2.2.x in fact takes the very soul away from Ulysses as a writer’s tool, both in the act of writing and reflecting over (looking at) the context of the concrete written sentence. (With context I hereby mean one of the sidebars, for instance the Sheet list, which is great to be able to have a look at when composing words on the line. Now this context view has disappeared, if the app is not set to have a far too little number of characters per line.) This is IMO certainly not a change that has made Ulysses better, the way I have used Ulysses before and now have to use it with this upgrade. The option to get “an over-view”/perspective or view of the context is now reduced to a “come or go” of an overlay. Even if the management of the come and go of this overlay is easy, it still requires a change of screenview, which in itself both is unnecessary and disturbing when one is deep in the writing process.


    A developer team can make an unwise desision, and in fact change a user interface’s basic good visual quality, and thereby reduce the value of the entire app. However, there may certainly be other features that have been changed in the upgrade that are good and useful changes. For instance, taking advantage of Apple’s new full screen split view in El Capitan, is one of these.


    The Soulmen team tells us on the blog that the upgrade allows for improved flexibility in accessing the groups and sheets, and provides much better handling of small window sizes. That may be so, but I am mostly working on a small MacBook Air 11” and have not had problems with the screen size. I work, however, most in Editor only, Full Screen mode, and also occasionally (that is, really: often) in two pane mode, Full screen mode: Editor and Sheet list are both present: the Sheet list on the left side as a sidebar that not disappears and not hides the text! This was the GOOD behavior of the sidebars up to version 2.1 of Ulysses, and this was dramatically changed to the worse in the new version 2.2 in October.


    It’s in the two pane mode where the context matters or issues discussed here, become very important: It’s of so vital importance to be able to view at the same time BOTH the Sheet list AND being able to work with and look at the text in the Editor, not hidden by an overlay. (Not having the app developer’s knowledge, I still will think (and hope) that there must be an easy solution to these matters.)


    But, I really think and hope that the Soulmen are capable and flexible enough to bring the gem of Ulysses: Bring back the standard, “classic” behavior of the sidebars (wanted as before, without overlay) and the FULL view of the text in the Editor pane when simultaneously showing the sidebar(s) – so that one can write (and read) also when working in the mode of seeing all the three (or two) panes.


    Lucas in the Soulmen support team kindly informs me that what they have changed in the update is how Ulysses handles too little space. “Previously it would cut down on the line width, now it only shows sidebars temporarily.”

    This “temporary” behavior of the sidebars (in a “come-and-go” way) is precisely what makes such disturbing screen view. This behavior of having to shift between views take away the calmness and almost zen-like attitude that the co-presence of both the Sheet list pane AND the (full visible) text Editor pane provided, without having to do the disturbing shift between overlay view of the Sheet list and the Editor.


    This “fundamentally reworked the behavior of the sidebars” in version 2.2 as the developers themselves call it, is IMO a fundamental error, taking away one of the most valuable “features” (contextual viewing modes when writing – and reading what one has written).


    I surely and really hope that the developers will give us the option of “downgrading” to version 2.1.x – or better: very, very soon make a new version that again includes this very “classic” and very useful UI of Ulysses; in fact this feature was what I experiences as a defining and outstanding characteristic of Ulysses.


    Unfortunately, with version 2.2.x in October, it’s gone. (Except, as stated above, it works as before in version 2.2 only when the characters per line is set to 64 or less, which is far so small a number for a good rendering and real estate use of the screen when one switches over to Editor only, full screen. The margins then become far too large.)


    The developers should really deal with this.


    I hope they do! At least that they give us an option of again having back the “classic” behavior of the sidebars and the full text visible in the Editor (that is: without overlay). Ulysses 2.1 was so precious and worked so good on the important UI point that I focus on here, that it would be so sad if such a masterful writing tool should loose one of its main valuable distinctive features.


    Other parts of the development in 2.2 are great, but please let us get back the option of having the “classic” UI concerning the sidebars (no overlay) and the Editor (with full text visible), when co-present.


    After having used some time trying to appreciate the updated version, I now unfortunately feel the need to downgrade from version 2.2.1 to the last version before the update in October: Version 2.1. I have been in contact with Ulysses’ support team, and they suggested that the easiest way to do so, is to use Time Machine. But I have not activated that on my Mac, so that won’t work.


    Are there anyone who has a good idea regarding how to get Ulysses version 2.1.x? (I hope that the support team will follow up and suggest other possibilities.)
     
  2. imanidiot macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #2
    I purchased Ulysses a couple of years ago. I am a novelist. I no longer use Ulysses. I use Pages (which everyone says you cannot do. But I do.). Ulysses is intelligently designed/constructed, but, as is typical with these sorts of programs, not by writers. Intelligent people who have a certain IDEA of what actual writers need. Thus they are all too cluttered/overdesigned. They are predicated on an IDEA of what writers need. And they are almost always wrong. It is over-systematized, over-overlaid with organizing tools, etc. I dare say than none of The Soulmen has every written a novel, and they have absolutely no f*****g clue about how the process actually works. Their program is an academic excerise, no more, and of no real use. It reminds me of b******t creative writing classes (can you imagine how stupid that is? Creative Writing classes/workshops, it blows my mind). If you are a writer, Ulysses is absolutely non-essential. You don't need it. Do you know what the greatest writing app of all time is? A typewriter.
    Or, alternatively, a pen and paper.
    Joyce and Beckett, et al, managed somehow to soldier on without Ulysses, Scrivener, etc.
     
  3. mortenandersen thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    Location:
    Norway
    #3
    The Soulmen support team has been fantastic! They have managed to solve my problem, and have found a solution so that I can download the version that I prefer.

    I will thank them also on this Forum! Lucas in the team has been so warm and customer friendly as can be! And they are really listening to the Ulysses users' needs and problems! Thanks so much!

    This opening post of mine was NOT meant to be a discussion about the usefulness of Ulysses for writers. For me that is not even a question. I cannot see how for example Pages or Word can be said to be in the same league as Ulysses when it comes to the process of writing and organizing both academical and fiction texts/stuff.
     
  4. mortenandersen thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    Location:
    Norway
    #4
    The Soulmen support team has been fantastic! They have managed to solve my problem, and have found a solution so that I can download the version that I prefer.

    I will thank them also on this Forum! Lucas in the team has been so warm and customer friendly as can be! And they are really listening to the Ulysses users' needs and problems! Thanks so much!

    This opening post of mine was NOT meant to be a discussion about the usefulness of Ulysses for writers. For me that is not even a question. I cannot see how for example Pages or Word can be said to be in the same league as Ulysses when it comes to the process of writing and organizing both academical and fiction texts/stuff.

    Forgive me for posting this post twice!
     

Share This Page