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Popular writing app Ulysses today reached version 23, and this update improves its blog publishing features as well as the way session histories and writing goals are calculated.

Writing-Session-History-ulysses.jpg

For a while now, Ulysses has offered a writing goal feature to help writers foster a writing habit. The goal feature allows them to set a daily target – 500 words, say – and monitor their progress towards achieving it. Version 23 revamps the way the associated session history feature calculates those goals.

"Our original approach had a couple of design flaws," says lead developer Götz Fabian. "We must take numerous outlying factors into account, for example, when users sync through iCloud or collect material, which should not count toward their writing target. That's why a profound rewrite became necessary."

As well as providing a focused writing environment, Ulysses offers ways to publish texts from within the app to various blogging platforms. Version 23 refines the feature by indicating uploaded posts with a paper plane icon, making them easier to spot in the editor, while a text's publishing status now appears in the dashboard sidebar.

Users now also have the option to update previously published Ghost posts from within Ulysses. Up until now, updating was only available for WordPress, but the developers plan to add it for Micro.blog in the coming months.

Publishing-Status-ulysses.jpg

Ulysses can be downloaded for free on the App Store, with version 23 rolling out to existing users today. After a 14-day trial period, a subscription is required to unlock the app on all devices. A monthly subscription costs $5.99, while a yearly subscription is $49.99.

Students can use Ulysses at a discounted price of $11.99 per six months. The discount is granted from within the app. Ulysses is also included in Setapp, the subscription-based service for Mac applications created by MacPaw.

Article Link: Ulysses Gains Enhanced Blog Publishing and Session History Features
 
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MacHiavelli

macrumors 65816
May 17, 2007
1,253
912
new york
Ulysses is really good. Was a top choice at one time, alongside Scrivener about a decade ago.

But Obsidian can do more than either Ulysses or Scrivener, and it is free for private use.

It also has fully featured apps for iOS, macOS, Windows and Android, which neither Ulysses nor Scrivener offer.

Why would anyone use Ulysses or Scrivener when there are much better, much more powerful apps out there these days?
 

Scott Robinson

macrumors member
Jan 20, 2014
45
29
Ulysses is really good. Was a top choice at one time, alongside Scrivener about a decade ago.

But Obsidian can do more than either Ulysses or Scrivener, and it is free for private use.

It also has fully featured apps for iOS, macOS, Windows and Android, which neither Ulysses nor Scrivener offer.

Why would anyone use Ulysses or Scrivener when there are much better, much more powerful apps out there these days?
I tried obsidian thinking their nodes based relationship viewer would blow my mind but it was only based on user added hyperlinking rather than any IA based cleverness. For me it’s USP had no use (for me). Why do user use Ulysses when obsidian exist? Because other than both using markdown they are totally different tool for completely different cases.
 

Mockletoy

macrumors 6502a
Sep 26, 2017
607
1,887
Gothenburg, Sweden
Ulysses is really good. Was a top choice at one time, alongside Scrivener about a decade ago.

But Obsidian can do more than either Ulysses or Scrivener, and it is free for private use.

It also has fully featured apps for iOS, macOS, Windows and Android, which neither Ulysses nor Scrivener offer.

Why would anyone use Ulysses or Scrivener when there are much better, much more powerful apps out there these days?


I prefer to write in Ulysses, which is sleek and beautiful and thoughtfully designed, but I only use it for small/quick projects and only then because I get it free in Setapp. I try it every now and then for the bigger stuff, but for wrangling a large project nothing compares to Scrivener. And when you're done it can output the final product in a mind-boggling array of formats at the click of a button. It's kinda clunky and persnickety and has about a million options I don't even use, but with a little patience you can make it do just about anything you can imagine. Also, Scrivener's licensing is about as friendly as it gets. You buy a single license for your platform of choice and you use it on as many devices of that type as you own for as long as you want. When the next major version comes out you get a discount if you upgrade, or you keep using the version you bought and never pay them anything else ever again. That includes syncing, for which Obsidian charges a monthly fee.

The one area where Ulysses truly shines in comparison to Scrivener is syncing. Ulysses sync has been pretty much bulletproof and almost freakishly instantaneous, while Scrivener's sync requires a bit of care and feeding if you don't want to have a bad time. And its project package format is wildly (seriously, don't do it or you're gonna have a bad time) incompatible with iCloud Drive, OneDrive, Google Drive, Box, etc. It only works with Dropbox, and even then it needs a fair amount of hand holding if you're moving between devices. Still, once you get the knack of it, it's not a bad experience, it just feels a bit dated.

As for Obsidian being able to do "more" than Scrivener, that's a bit disingenuous, don't you think? Much of what Scrivener can do is niche, but if your workflow happens to fall within that niche there's really nothing else quite like it. I wouldn't even consider Obsidian (or Ulysses) a competitor to Scrivener, let alone an alternative. It's like saying a motorcycle is the superior alternative to a pickup truck. Well, sure, if you just need to get across town I suppose it is. But if you need to haul a sofa? Not so much. I could make the same argument about TextEdit and Notepad or even nano/pico as replacements for Scrivener and Ulysses, depending on what you're writing.

It seems quite strange to me to push a personal wiki / notes application as a replacement for a professional grade and highly specialized manuscript production package like Scrivener. Go take a look at Scrivener's project compilation function. They could probably spin "Compile..." off into a separate program and make a bunch of money on that alone. Check out all the ways you can tag scenes to keep track of their individual revision status. The way you can seamlessly add notes to any document that are visible in the main window at all times (if you want them to be). The way you can add a synopsis to each scene and then view those synopses on a virtual cork board that allows you to do drag and drop reordering. The way Scrivener can highlight parts of speech ("Linguistic Focus"). The way I can split the editor and work on two scenes at once side by side, or use a second document as a reference while I work. The list goes on and on.

Let me know when Obsidian can do all that. Until then the suggestion that Obsidian can do "more" than Scrivener is patently absurd. And, no, I have no vested interest in Scrivener or the company that makes it, but I do use it every day of my professional life. I'd be happy to switch away to something better and more capable, but someone's going to have to release it first.
 
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Aggedor

macrumors 6502a
Dec 10, 2020
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568
I'm a professional novelist (as in, that's my day job), and while I have tried Ulysses, iA Writer, and various others, I can never understand why on earth anyone would try and write prose in a markup editor. Just the paragraph breaks alone were enough for me to give up and go back to Scrivener for first drafts.

Yes, Ulysses and iA Writer look amazing (which is important for me when it comes to drafting, I need a clean, focussed workspace), but... raw markup? Yeeeesh. And a subscription! Why? At least Scrivener is a one-off purchase.

I'm actually trying to draft my current book in Pages, after another writer friend swore by it. It certainly has the nicest font rendering of any Mac app.
 

MacHiavelli

macrumors 65816
May 17, 2007
1,253
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new york
Obsidian offers a sync service, but users don't have to use it if they already have a service of their own, such as iCloud.

So sync can be COMPLETELY FREE.

Linguistic focus is a tool provided by the OS, utilized in Scrivener. Not original programming. Corkboard can be emulated with a plugin.

But it can do everything else you mention and a lot more that Scrivener and Ulysses can't do. They don't match each other for features absolutely, but overall Obsidian can do far more than either U or S can do, and it can do it on more platforms, with equal performance across platforms. Ulysses is great across iOS and macOS. Scrivener is good on a Mac and very limited on iOS. Obsidian works with pretty much full beans on Windows, Android, iOS and macOS. The other two apps are miles behind.

Does Scrivener have a graph view? Can Scrivener sort YAML or metadata placed anywhere in a file? Can it do programmatic templates and snippets with simple keystrokes? Can it transclude (in real time, not at compile) whole files? Can it transclude single blocks from inside files? Can you open Scrivener files in other apps? Can you open them in other apps AT THE SAME TIME? And on and on and on.

And syncing is old-fashioned and kludgy in Scrivener, as you say. In Obsidian and Ulysses it's not. It is super fast. With Scrivener, you even have to close files before syncing. With Obsidian, you can have the same file open on two different devices and have syncing work. S just doesn't come close to what O can do.

Sure, some people love U and S. I have loved and used both at times. But O is just better, if a user can get their head around how to use all the options available.

Good to have choices.

You might not think or know that better software has been written, but it has. And not just Obsidian. Scrivener was built 15 years ago on buggy coding (rtf) that has since been deprecated and not updated for 13 years. Modern apps do things such as sync so much better because they were built in the age of the cloud, not years before it became a mainstream reality. It's great if people like using S or U or O or any other app. But S and U, for sure, are not the leaders they once were.

And WYSIWYG is coming to Obsidian. WYSIWYM (raw markdown) will be an option only.
 
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return2sendai

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Oct 22, 2018
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How do these feature-loaded writing apps reduce distraction? Just a white page and a cursor is all you need to write it. Then, after you’ve written it, paste it into one of these so-called “writing” apps to jazz up and share.
 

drumcat

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Feb 28, 2008
963
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If you're technically inclined, VSCode and a GitHub repo, and you can have markdown anywhere synched.

If you're less technical, go get Typora.io and use iCloud to sync.

Even better, buy software that isn't a rental. Say no to rentals.
 

ignatius345

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Aug 20, 2015
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I'm a professional novelist (as in, that's my day job), and while I have tried Ulysses, iA Writer, and various others, I can never understand why on earth anyone would try and write prose in a markup editor. Just the paragraph breaks alone were enough for me to give up and go back to Scrivener for first drafts.

Yes, Ulysses and iA Writer look amazing (which is important for me when it comes to drafting, I need a clean, focussed workspace), but... raw markup? Yeeeesh. And a subscription! Why? At least Scrivener is a one-off purchase.

I'm actually trying to draft my current book in Pages, after another writer friend swore by it. It certainly has the nicest font rendering of any Mac app.
I use Ulysses despite the markup but I do very much dislike it. As a writer, not a coder, I really have no interest in seeing all that ugly code.
 
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ignatius345

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Aug 20, 2015
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How do these feature-loaded writing apps reduce distraction? Just a white page and a cursor is all you need to write it. Then, after you’ve written it, paste it into one of these so-called “writing” apps to jazz up and share.
I don’t use Ulysses because of any “distraction free“ feature. Like you said, that’s available on pretty much any app if you use it right. Are use it because it’s very good at sync and organizing and search.
 
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Mockletoy

macrumors 6502a
Sep 26, 2017
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Gothenburg, Sweden
I don’t use Ulysses because of any “distraction free“ feature. Like you said, that’s available on pretty much any app if you use it right. Are use it because it’s very good at sync and organizing and search.
I don’t get all the hype around “distraction free” editors. When I’m in the zone my desk could be on fire and I wouldn’t notice, so I don’t think a couple of toolbar buttons are going to destroy my ability to work.

I haven’t tried Ulysses for a highly structured project in a year or so. Last time I tried it I found the organizational abilities too simplistic. It felt like everything was too flat. Just a long list of files. I couldn’t “feel” the structure, if that makes sense. It felt like a table with a bunch of crap thrown onto its surface rather than a filing cabinet with everything slotted into its proper place.

In Scrivener I enjoy the clearly delineated structure. It’s the old fashioned file/folder metaphor, but it works.

Plus, Ulysses put me off by lumping everything I’ve ever written in one shared workspace. So maybe I do need a bit of a distraction free environment in that sense because when I’m working on a project I want a dedicated workspace for it. That’s just the way my mind works.

Anyway, maybe Ulysses has changed for the better. I should check it out again.
 

Aggedor

macrumors 6502a
Dec 10, 2020
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Thing about Ulysses is that they do claim it is suitable for all kinds of writing, not just coding, and their website has testimonials from novelists. Focus modes, of whatever kind, can be useful for some creative writers - personally, I use Scrivener in composition mode, so I have a big blank screen and just the text. Ulysses (and iA Writer and others, I'm sure) also tout this kind of focus mode as a selling point (including typewriter mode, with Scrivener also has, and which is still not a feature of MS Word of Pages). But it's entirely undone by the fact that it needs markup, which - for writing fiction, anyway - surely breaks that focus entirely. If I want bold, italics, and underline, I want bold, italics, and underline, and I sure as hell am not going to train myself to hit enter twice for paragraph breaks while I'm in the flow of composition.

Anyway, apologies, going off on a tangent here!
 

Traverse

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Mar 11, 2013
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I know that the subscription structure was controversial, but I’ve used Ulysses multiple times a week for years now.

The Shortcuts integration, clean U.I., and flexible smart collections make it my go-app application for writing. I’m happy to support an app I use so much.
 
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Traverse

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Plus, Ulysses put me off by lumping everything I’ve ever written in one shared workspace. So maybe I do need a bit of a distraction free environment in that sense because when I’m working on a project I want a dedicated workspace for it. That’s just the way my mind works.
This is Ulysses’ biggest strength and weakness. The idea is that ALL your writing lives in one places with collections and sear to separate it. This is fine for personal writing, journaling, etc.

However, if I were going to write a thesis I would use Scrivener. I don’t want professional writing in with my personal journal. So a single-app-library approach has drawbacks.
 

ddauerbach

macrumors newbie
Dec 15, 2008
18
12
I don’t get all the hype around “distraction free” editors. When I’m in the zone my desk could be on fire and I wouldn’t notice, so I don’t think a couple of toolbar buttons are going to destroy my ability to work.

I haven’t tried Ulysses for a highly structured project in a year or so. Last time I tried it I found the organizational abilities too simplistic. It felt like everything was too flat. Just a long list of files. I couldn’t “feel” the structure, if that makes sense. It felt like a table with a bunch of crap thrown onto its surface rather than a filing cabinet with everything slotted into its proper place.

In Scrivener I enjoy the clearly delineated structure. It’s the old fashioned file/folder metaphor, but it works.

Plus, Ulysses put me off by lumping everything I’ve ever written in one shared workspace. So maybe I do need a bit of a distraction free environment in that sense because when I’m working on a project I want a dedicated workspace for it. That’s just the way my mind works.

Anyway, maybe Ulysses has changed for the better. I should check it out again.
Scrivner is great for long form writing (e.g., a novel). A very nice helpful adjunct program is Plottr.
 

ignatius345

macrumors 603
Aug 20, 2015
5,116
7,612
I don’t get all the hype around “distraction free” editors. When I’m in the zone my desk could be on fire and I wouldn’t notice, so I don’t think a couple of toolbar buttons are going to destroy my ability to work.

I haven’t tried Ulysses for a highly structured project in a year or so. Last time I tried it I found the organizational abilities too simplistic. It felt like everything was too flat. Just a long list of files. I couldn’t “feel” the structure, if that makes sense. It felt like a table with a bunch of crap thrown onto its surface rather than a filing cabinet with everything slotted into its proper place.

In Scrivener I enjoy the clearly delineated structure. It’s the old fashioned file/folder metaphor, but it works.

Plus, Ulysses put me off by lumping everything I’ve ever written in one shared workspace. So maybe I do need a bit of a distraction free environment in that sense because when I’m working on a project I want a dedicated workspace for it. That’s just the way my mind works.

Anyway, maybe Ulysses has changed for the better. I should check it out again.
Yeah, it's really just a folder system, but you can tag files and you can create saved searches that show up in the sidebar like folder, but that show only things that meet certain criteria. You can put together a pretty decent little system -- or at least I've been able to put one together that meets my needs.

I've messed around with Scrivener a bit, and I check in on it every once in a while. I bounce between two Macs and it's extremely important to me to have good sync, and from everything I've read it's pretty laborious with Scrivener.

If/when they fix it I will take another look because Ulysses often frustrates me with its constant interface tweaks. The latest one made it so you can't hide the toolbar anymore, which used to show/hide automatically. Now it's purely manual and it's very kludgy, and in the "focus mode" where the toolbar is hidden, the sidebars go out of their way to obscure the text you want to see. Seems minor, but it adds friction and kind of pisses me off when I'm paying yearly.
 

ignatius345

macrumors 603
Aug 20, 2015
5,116
7,612
However, if I were going to write a thesis I would use Scrivener. I don’t want professional writing in with my personal journal. So a single-app-library approach has drawbacks.
Not for nothing, you can add external Finder folders to Ulysses and work in them from within Ulysses' interface.
 

Traverse

macrumors 604
Mar 11, 2013
7,621
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Not for nothing, you can add external Finder folders to Ulysses and work in them from within Ulysses' interface.
This is true, but then you lose the ability to sync I believe. If I was going to ride a specialty project I would choose scrivener even with the fidgety dropbox support
 

Puonti

macrumors 65816
Mar 14, 2011
1,386
958
How do these feature-loaded writing apps reduce distraction? Just a white page and a cursor is all you need to write it. Then, after you’ve written it, paste it into one of these so-called “writing” apps to jazz up and share.
In Ulysses you do this by enabling Typewriter Mode and going full-screen. Optionally hide the Word Counter.

For my writing needs Ulysses continues to deliver for the subscription price I pay (Migration Offer).
 

Substance90

macrumors 6502a
Oct 13, 2011
501
772
Let me know when Obsidian can do all that. Until then the suggestion that Obsidian can do "more" than Scrivener is patently absurd. And, no, I have no vested interest in Scrivener or the company that makes it, but I do use it every day of my professional life. I'd be happy to switch away to something better and more capable, but someone's going to have to release it first.
It's totally different use cases IMO. Scrivener is a much better MS Word. A tool for writers and novelists. Obsidian seems to be better OneNote made for for developers and people used to the workflow IDEs and Code Editors (the built in Vim mode) speaks for it.
 

MacBH928

macrumors 604
May 17, 2008
7,600
3,324
But Obsidian can do more than either Ulysses or Scrivener, and it is free for private use.

nice tip on Obsidian but out of advice, do not use free software if not backed by multi-million/billion corporate , out of philosophy there is no such thing as free lunch. If you like an app/service and want it to continue to exist, pay for it otherwise it will die.
 
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