A few years ago, Information Architects set the standard for "distraction-free" text editors with its iA Writer. After I reviewed iA Writer, it became one of my essential text tools, and I was excited to hear that the company was releasing a new writing app.
Writer Pro, $20 each for OS X (Mac App Store link) and iOS (App Store link), is not an enhancement of iA Writer, but rather a totally new concept of a tool for writing. It's not for everyone — whether or not it's for you depends on whether your workflow, and the way you think about writing, match that of the developers.
For the most part, Writer Pro maintains iA Writer's simple approach to text editing, adding features for working with text, rather than for formatting. As with iA Writer, Writer Pro uses Markdown syntax for formatting — for example, underscores or asterisks around text for italics, double asterisks around text for bold, and one or more # symbols before (or surrounding) text for headers. Add these control characters and the formats are immediately applied to the designated text. The app's optional sidebar lets you easily apply Markdown formatting (though it gives you no shortcuts to add hyperlinks); it also allows you to change workflow modes, view syntax, and see statistics about your document.
As with iA Writer, you can highlight just the sentence you're currently working on by enabling "focus mode."
One of Writer Pro's big new features is called workflows, where you choose from four modes: Note, Write, Edit and Read. When you create a new text document, it's in Note mode by default. The logic is that you'll, well, take notes before writing. When you switch to Write mode, you see those same notes, but in a different font. The Note, Edit and Read fonts are proportional, and the Write font is monospace. (All the fonts are attractive typefaces designed for the app.)
While the text-editor part of the app is essentially the same as iA Writer, the new workflow feature is jarring. The only differences between the four modes are the fonts and the cursor colors, and they're hard-coded into the app. You may find that the fonts the app offers don't work for you; or you may find that you wish you could use the Read font while in Write mode. Personally, I prefer a monospace font for much of my writing, since that writing often includes HTML or Markdown code. While a monospace font is available in Write mode, it's not available in Edit mode, where I actually would need it most (to check to make sure that all my code is correct). Many writers have a specific font they like, and I'm sure many, like me, don't want their document font to change during the writing and editing process.
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