Typed App Review: Web Writers Rejoice (And Rant)

Typed App Review: Web Writers Rejoice (And Rant)

I’m rarely inspired to do an app review, but I’ve been waiting for Typed from Realmac Software for months, so I was super-excited to buy it. Yes, I said buy, rather than trial it. I trust RealMac; I’ve been using RapidWeaver for years, ditto Ember.

Here’s why I wanted Typed. I love Markdown because it makes it so easy to repurpose content. I write all short content in Markdown; books I write in Scrivener. This means that I’ve tried just about every Markdown editor around. I’m looking for that one app which will do everything I want… so far, no joy.

Since I had such huge expectations for Typed, I knew that I would be disappointed. And I am. But I hope that the Realmac people will eliminate some of the true aggravations when the app is updated.

The good stuff

Firstly, one big reason to love the app. It’s gorgeous. I love the interface, mostly. Because:

  • the word count is easily visible (a must for writers);
  • the fonts and the background can be changed. Fonts are mostly sans serif (shudder), but thank heavens there’s Georgia. Your background can be grey, sepia or black;
  • you can copy HTML at a click.

But as we all know, looks aren’t everything.

The pains in the you-know-what

Let’s look at the things I didn’t like:

  • Music (no way to eliminate it entirely)
  • Lack of typewriter scrolling
  • No export to PDF
  • No export to RTF

Really painful: the music

A big pain: the music. Why, oh why isn’t there a preference to eliminate the music entirely? I sometimes play music while I write, but I have a “writing” playlist in Spotify. That playlist is primarily classical music. I don’t want or need a soundtrack in a writing app.

I’m sure some people will love the music. I don’t, and here’s what makes it even more aggravating. When you hit Command Y for fullscreen mode, the music plays. You need to click on the Zen menu to pause the music. Again, WHY?

Fullscreen mode is excellent, full marks. Sadly, all the marks are lost when you need to turn off the music before you can concentrate on your writing again.

Preview mode in Typed
Preview mode in Typed

Really painful: no typewriter scrolling

What’s “typewriter scrolling”? It’s when the editor scrolls automatically so that the line with the cursor stays in the middle of the window.

Scrivener has typewriter scrolling, as does my current favorite Markdown app, MultiMarkdown Composer.

Here’s workaround: go to the end of your document. Press the Enter key until you’ve added lots of spaces, then press “====“ to draw a line. It’s not typewriter scrolling, but at least there’s some space at the end of the document.

Mildly painful: no export to RTF and PDF

The big joy of Markdown is that you can copy and/ or save your document to multiple formats. So, why no RTF and PDF?

I need PDF, because I send documents to clients. I need RTF, so that I can open the documents in Scrivener, and MS Word.

No big problem. I prefer to preview Markdown docs in Marked 2 anyway, which does export to RTF and PDF. However, for Typed users who don’t used Marked 2, this is a serious challenge.

Do I like Typed?

The interface is just about perfect. I keep Typed open to write social media updates, where previously I used TextMate to write short text.

Another big thumbs up: everything is where you expect it to be in the menus, there’s no hunting for anything, nor have there been any hangs, that is — no “application not responding” — moments.

So yes, in general I like the app. But please, Realmac, in the next update, add a preference to turn off the music completely. Then I could use fullscreen mode. At the moment, the music’s so irritating, I won’t use it.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

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Writing Journal 66: Gorgeous Graphics for Your Blog

Writing Journal 66: Gorgeous Graphics for Your Blog

My writing journal for Friday, October 17, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

After yesterday’s running start, this morning started a lot slower. That’s the writing life for you. One day you can’t keep up with your thoughts, and the next your brain splutters and gasps. Nevertheless, I managed 1,900 words on the mystery novel, and 1,700 words on the two nonfiction books. So, it wasn’t too bad.

I make Honey’s breakfast, and then my own. Then I get down to reading email. I’m almost caught up; with a little effort tonight, I’ll be able to respond to the final batch of students’ exercises.

New website launch: next week (I hope)

I’d hoped to launch the new website this week, but that won’t happen. I’ve rescheduled it for next week. I got so frustrated with something that wouldn’t work on the site yesterday, I was close to pitching my computer out of the window. So, I got some help.

I don’t have much time for the website today, so I spend an hour on it, then it’s on to client projects.

Last night a client called with a rush project; he needs a presentation by the close of business today. He’s been asked to fill in at a conference. Luckily, I’ve created many presentations for him in the past, so we can re-purpose several slides and notes from older material.

Working on that takes me to right up to lunchtime. No time for our Friday lunch today, so I read social media while I’m eating.

With lunch over, it’s down to work on the presentation again.

Canva’s one of my favorite apps for graphics-creation. You can create a set of slides easily, and quickly too. They’ve just released their iPad app.

Gorgeous graphics for your blog

I’m no artist. If you’re like me, and nevertheless want to create graphics for your Kindle book covers, your blog, and your website, I’m sure you know all about Canva. Here’s what’s new: Canva for your iPad.

Here’s Canva’s blog post announcing the new app. I love the idea of creating images for social media, right on your iPad. No more excuses, you can create images for Twitter and Facebook while you’re sitting on your sofa, watching a movie.

I haven’t downloaded the app yet; however, I’ll make time to do it on the weekend.

Speaking of apps, if you’re a Mac person, you know that Mac OS X Yosemite was released today. I can’t wait to install it. On the other hand, I know that things can go wrong, and that some of the programs on which I rely may have issues with the new OS. So I’ll hold off for a month, until things settle down, and developers have had a chance to update their apps.

Finally, I complete the presentation, and send it off to the client for his review. I asked him to get back to me quickly, if he wants changes.

Next, it’s blogging time again. I’m a little behind on some of my clients’ blogs, so I need to spend some time drafting and scheduling posts. That’s easy, because I write most things in Markdown.

If you use Markdown, and Evernote, did you know that you can write in Markdown in Evernote?

Evernote trick for Web writers: write in Markdown

If you’re a Web writer, you know all about Markdown. If you’re also an Evernote fan, you may not know that you write in Markdown in your notes, then paste your notes into any Markdown editor, and get HTML, PDF, and Rich Text.

I said to someone the other day: “I write in Markdown so much that it’s completely automatic. I use it in Evernote even when the note will never leave Evernote.”

She said: “You can use Markdown in Evernote?”

Yes you can.

There’s even a Markdown editor for Evernote, called Marxico. I’ve never used it; I prefer to write in Evernote, then copy the text and paste it into Ulysses or Lightpaper (free.)

Now that I’ve caught up on SOME blogging, it’s time for my daily and weekly review, and then the week is done.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Workflows: Write and Repurpose With Markdown

Writing Workflows: Write and Repurpose With Markdown

We’re all writing more these days: business documents, social media updates, and endless emails and messages. I’m constantly refining my writing workflows, and I’m sure you are too.

Markdown is at the heart of my workflows. I started using plain text with Markdown syntax as my preferred writing environment several years ago, purely to save time.

Here’s why. You can transform a Markdown document into HTML, RTF, or PDF and even EPUB in just a second or two. It doesn’t matter what I use to create a document; I can open it in Marked, and export it to other formats more or less instantly.

Markdown documents are just text, so you can write in Markdown on your phone or tablet – any text editor can create Markdown documents. I wrote a couple of blog posts on my phone at the hairdresser’s yesterday, for example. This morning I copied them to MultiMarkdown Composer, my current favorite Markdown editor to save as files. Then I copied the files as HTML with a couple of keystrokes, and posted them to a blog.

Write App: Elegant Simplicity and Perfect for Social Media

Since I write in Markdown, I’m always checking out text editors which offer Markdown options; I end up buying far too many of them. My excuse? Time. If an app helps me to save an hour or two a month, it’s well worth the money.

When I spotted that Write was out of beta, I had to get it. I’d heard many good things about it. TNW’s Nick Summers called it “gorgeous”, and he’s right.

Write’s perfect for writing snippets – short social media updates, and then repurposing them. For example, you might tweet something, then expand the tweet into a Google+ post, and expand it further into a blog post, or develop it into a presentation.

Alternatively, you can head in the other direction: create tweets and other social media posts from Markdown documents.

write app

As you can see from the above image, Write’s window is divided into three sections. Your library on the left (folders on your computer, Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive etc.) The center area offers a search query box, and a file list. Then there’s the editor, which you can pop out into a free-floating window, either full-screen, or not.

However, Write really shines when it comes to sharing, as you can see in the image below.

sharing with write app

Write offers the usual Markdown sharing as HTML, PDF et al as primary options. I love the instant sharing to Twitter and Facebook. Just select a snippet, and if you’ve set up your computer to send social media updates, you can post an update at a click.

Write’s the Perfect Editor if You Use Markdown – or Even if You Don’t.

Use Write for:

* Quick social media updates;

* Emails, and documents you want to attach to emails;

* Web content;

* Basic business documents;

* … anything you choose, really.

I couldn’t see myself drafting long documents in Write, I prefer Scrivener. But for short documents, it’s perfect: you can focus on your writing, and can share it in many formats. My writing workflows have benefited from Write; yours may too.

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, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Smart Word Processing With Quip: Words Anywhere

Quip
Quip: smart word processing

Want a super-easy way to collaborate with others on your documents? Say hello to Quip, the social word processor: it combines document creation and editing with messaging.

I’ve found Quip very easy to use in the early stages of working with clients. If a copywriting client wants to see headlines I’ve developed, or the text of an ad, I just type the client’s name in the Sharing box, and I can invite him to share the document via email or text.

Quip will never replace the Reviewing Pane in MS Word however. It’s not meant for long, complex documents. Your mileage may vary, but I couldn’t imagine working on a long sales page, or (shudder) a book proposal in Quip.

Everyday documents however, are fun to create and work on. If you’re collaborating with someone on a blog, you can share your notes, draft posts, and thoughts easily.

No collaborators? You can use Quip as an word processing app on your desktop if you wish, or on a device. I find Quip a struggle to use on my phone, but it’s perfect on the iPad, where you have a larger keyboard.

Quip on iPad
Insertions in Quip on the iPad

As you can see in the above image, on the iPad you just hit the Insert button, and you can insert a table, a mention (someone’s name), a link to another document or folder, or a link to a Web page.

If you hit the Paragraph icon to the left of the Insert button, you can add a heading or a list to a document.

My favorite feature in Quip is the Chat tab. If you’re working in a browser and someone sends you a message, you’ll see it immediately. You can chat back in the chat box, or in the relevant document.

Create as many folders as you need

Quip’s divided into three main areas: the Inbox, the Desktop, and the Editor. On Quip’s Desktop, you can add folders. I’ve created folders for each client, and I have a “home” folder, for personal documents.

You can drag your folders around on the desktop to order them, and create sub-folders as well. If you want to archive a folder, just drag it into a folder you’re using as an archive.

It’s worth mentioning that you don’t need to be online to use Quip. If you’re using it on a device like your tablet, you can send messages, create documents, and edit existing documents. Everything gets synced as soon as you have a connection again. Quip has the smoothest sync I’ve ever seen. Work on a document in the browser on your desktop, then check your phone, and changes are synced almost instantly.

Quip Basic is free for up to five users, and you can share folders. Quip Business is $12 per month per user for up to 250 users, with an Admin Console, and more.

What I like about Quip

Almost everything, especially Markdown – any word processor which lets me use Markdown gets my vote.

What I don’t like

Getting documents into Quip is limited to copy and paste.

Also, there’s no HTML export that I can see. You can get your docs out by printing them, and by saving them as PDFs. Why no HTML export? You’d assume that that would be easy, since your docs are created in Markdown.

Sigh… there’s always a weevil in the gingerbread… ;-)

, and on Twitter: @angee