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Writer Pro: Text editor works well (if you work its way)

Kirk McElhearn | Feb. 5, 2014
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 stores its files in iCloud (though you can also save them locally, on your Mac), in one of four pre-set folders: Note, Write, Edit and Read. When you change modes, and then save your current document, the actual document gets moved to folder corresponding to the current mode. (If you want to store files in your organizational hierarchy of folders, you can't. If you store a file in a different location in the iCloud folder — say, an additional folder you create inside Writer Pro's iCloud folder — and later open it and save it from within Writer Pro, the app moves the document to one of its four folders.) This means that if you want to store a group of files together for a specific project, you're out of luck. Also, when viewing an iCloud dialog box, these folders are displayed in alphabetical order, rather than in Writer Pro's "workflow order," so it's easy to get confused about where a file is. It would make more sense if the folders were named to match the workflow order: 1-Note, 2-Write, 3-Edit, and 4-Read.

After using Writer Pro for a while, I think the logic of these workflow modes is questionable (and I find the developers' explanations unconvincing). If Note mode were a true outlining tool, it would be useful to people who use outlines to organize their writing ideas. Even if Note mode were just a scratchpad for, well, notes, it would be useful — when I take notes for an article, that content is mostly links, ideas, and sentences that I jot down before I write. I don't want my notes to be part of my main text; I want them on the side. (And I may have multiple notes files.)

I don't see the point of Read mode either. It's the same font as Edit, with the only difference being that you can't change anything. This would make sense if it rendered Markdown syntax, so you could see text formatting, links, images, and the like as they would look when published or exported. But Read mode simply shows you the same, raw formatting syntax as Edit mode. (I instead turn to Marked 2, which offers live previews and powerful exporting features.)

Exporting is also limited, as you can export only to RTF, HTML or .docx. You can't even export a file in Markdown format; you have to move it to your Mac (using the File > Move To command) if you want a local copy.

Syntax Control
The other marquee feature of Writer Pro is what the developers call "Syntax Control," which highlights the nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and so on, in your text.


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