Thierry Crouzet

Automatic translation from french

After praising Ulysses, after switching to Mac in part for him, I do more and more reproaches, not because it does not evolve, but because its evolutions are mostly useless for an author.

For starters, Ulysses is a solution that remains only Mac. When we know that for some years the MacBook have the worst keyboards in the market, we understand that they are no longer suitable for writers, but Ulysses still does not plan to switch to Windows. I do not feel like an application that traps me on a system that is no longer adapted to my uses. Of course, it can change on the side of Apple, but for three years nothing changes. The butterfly keyboard of my 2018 MacBookPro is already showing signs of weakness after less than a year of low-level use in Florida. The Shift and N keys disappear, the A key is restive and I still have as much pain in the fingertips as on the first day. We can say that we get used to everything, I do not get used to the keyboard butterfly Mac.

Touche Maj et N de mon MacBookPro 2018
Touche Maj et N de mon MacBookPro 2018

For Ulysses, to refuse to look at the Windows side is to refuse to really care about professional writers, it is to scorn the heart of the target (unless this target has changed along the way).

Other things have changed. Shortcuts. On my Mac, I was doing Shift + Ctrl + 1 to open or close the sidebars, now I only manage the library. The leaf list remains visible. Now, I have to do Shift + Ctrl + 2 twice to achieve the same result as before, that is to say find myself with my only text editor in front of me. Waste of time.

More seriously, Ulysses reposition my cursor at the top of the document when I change sheets with a single click. It's a bit like if you change your task on your computer you lose the context each time. At Ulysses, they tell me that this is normal behavior, that you have to double-click to return to the point of origin (in this case Ulysses would like to reinvent ergonomics). They do not care about us, but once a year we sting tunes now that they have switched to a subscription model.

Remise en forme du Markdown Ulysses
Remise en forme du Markdown Ulysses

Another breach weighs on me. When exporting to Markdown, Ulysses does not offer an option to automatically add a line break at the end of a paragraph. Problem, without this jump, WordPress and the other Markdown editors do not see paragraphs, but a single block of text. I had to hack a script to reformat my texts before pasting them into the WP Githuber MD editor of WordPress.

Another example of useless innovation: Ulysses exports directly to WordPress, but it does in HTML, which is a shame for a publisher MarkDown (in addition, it displays the images at their maximum resolution). Me, I want my tickets to stay in Markdown, even when published (that images respect the Markdown syntax).

It starts to make a lot of black spots, knowing that Ulysses still does not offer a tool for collaborative work, which is a minimum when you want to edit a text and work with a proofreader. So, I'm still forced to leave Ulysses at some point in the editorial process. And go back on this even more despicable Word.

Instead of taking care of us authors, Ulysses adds gadgets that are irrelevant to us, like color keywords, easy-to-code stuff that does not require investment, and maintains the illusion that the product is still evolving, justifying its subscription model. I find it rather disturbing. I wonder about the durability of Ulysses, especially as its Markdown file management system is opaque to say the least, one more thing that should evolve.

Is there an alternative? I continue to list the tools for writer, but I have not yet found the ideal candidate to replace Ulyssses is my drama. More and more voices are rising to plebiscite Drafts, but it is also a solution confined to the Apple universe. iAwriter is the best candidate to date, but it does not satisfy me fully (unlike Ulysses, most Markdown publishers require two line breaks at the end of the paragraph, I find it unbearable, in addition to being totally useless). There is also the very seductive Zettlr, free, open source, Windows / MAC / Linux, but not iOS and Android, which unfortunately lacks options to configure the writing mode (yes, I'm too good on Ulysses when I do not to write and that's why I still use it).

Here is the ideal portrait of an editor for writer. First, what I already find on Ulysses:

  • Gestionnaire de projets (annotations, mots-clés, dossiers…).
  • Écriture sans distraction en Markdown (avec simplification de la syntaxe à l’affichage, pas de double saut de ligne, grande fluidité, nombreuses options de personnalisation…).
  • Archivage/synchronisation automatique.
  • Gestion des objectifs.

What is missing at Ulysses:

  • Multiplate-forme (Windows/Mac/Linux, iOS/Android).
  • Architecture de fichiers Markdown claire, lisible, transparente.
  • Filtre d’exportation avec plus d’options que ceux d’Ulysses (pourquoi pas la possibilité d’utiliser des scripts — OK, on peut toujours passer par Pandoc si on veut de la précision).
  • Travail collaboratif avec système de suivi des corrections.

If Ulysses jumped on Windows, clarified its file structure and had a collaborative mode, it would make a huge leap forward and it would become the inevitable text editor. But I feel that something is blocking, probably a lack of means, which prevents its large-scale deployment. It leaves me a little apprehensive. I'll be faithful to it as long as I do not get rid of my 2018 MacBookPro, but when I change my machine I will not consider Ulysses anymore.