I love writing my posts in Drafts on iOS and macOS. Unfortunately Monday-Friday 7:45-15:45 I’m stuck on Windows and therefore when I go to work on a post I have to transfer it from Drafts to iCloud Drive and it’s so annoying because nothing comes close to Drafts on Windows.
With my move iCloud Drive, I was hoping Ulysses would have iCloud Drive support. Unfortunately, the Ulysses library does not show its folder. I guess they are out, I liked iA Writer, but the developer is so rigid with their idea of the app there is no room for compromise. Hmm 🤔
Return to Sublime Text
In January I asked the Micro.blog community a question about writing apps for Windows. I received many great suggestions and tried almost everything that was suggested finally ending up with Sublime Text.
I’ve fallen in love with Sublime Text multiple times over the years, but then I would find a new note-taking app which draws me away ending with forgetting about Sublime Text for months, or in this last instance a year and a half. When I started my Blot.im blog I started with creating posts in BBEdit on macOS, Notepad++ on Windows, and Drafts on iOS. I’ve since gone through the following applications to get back to Sublime Text: 1Writer, Ulysses, Typora, Brackets, Visual Studio Code. It may seem like an odd mixture of apps, but they have one thing in common: sidebar libraries. Sidebar libraries allow me to add my Dropbox folder for my blog and have everything from posts to the CSS file in one text editor in one window available. It allows me to write and save drafts in the Drafts folder of the directory then once done, drag and drop in the sidebar and the post is published.
1Writer was only viable for iOS, Ulysses while great on both macOS and iOS wasn’t on Windows, and Markdown handling in Ulysses isn’t my favorite and leaves much to be desired. Typora is good with Markdown but falls short on other file formats. While testing Typora had some bugs that would freeze the app which caused me to move on. iA Writer came very close, but some decisions by the developers to put all the blame on cloud services scared me, then when I suggested a feature the response was to use the third party keyboard, so they were out.
Then came Brackets, I’d never used Brackets, and when a coworker suggested it for another task I needed to accomplish it seemed like a great fit, and for a week it was. Unfortunately, Brackets doesn’t have the packages/extension library that Sublime Text has built up over the years. So I went to try Visual Studio Code, and it was a great app with more extensions than Brackets. Unfortunately, it had some weird quirks that created an amount of friction I found acceptable but would keep my eye out for something else. One of the suggestions I received was Sublime Text, which I had a license for version 2 and 3, so I downloaded it. I immediately remembered why I loved Sublime Text, the extensibility of packages, and the ability to write syntax changes into the preferences was incredibly useful for a code editor.
Sublime Text Setup
I’m currently using three packages, starting with WordCount to show live characters and word counts. It’s been handy for making sure my Status posts make it under the 280 character Micro.blog limit before truncating and linking back to the blog. One of my criteria for testing these applications was a character count and Sublime Text didn’t have a great default one, but with WordCount that doesn’t matter. Monokai Extended then Markdown Extended to change the Markdown syntax highlighting. Due to Windows having an issue indexing Markdown files, I switched to text files and changed the default Syntax for all text files to Markdown Extended.
I use one project for the blog, which has the Blot.im folder in the sidebar, allowing access to everything. Projects enable me to quickly open the folders I need for the blog all at once, and with workspaces, I can set two windows and have both windows open with the correct folders in each.
I’m back to using Sublime Text on Windows and macOS, Drafts is still my go-to on iOS. I love Sublime Text focus around getting the words on the screen, then figuring out where the file should go after it’s written. The applications I tested acted similarly, but each one had a flaw in some way that pushed me away due to no recourse. Default Sublime Text did have some flaws but through Packages and editing the Settings, one can make Sublime Text precisely what they need from a text editor.
I want to move to iA Writer everywhere, but the lack of TextExpander support on iOS is killing me. I thought I could get away without it on iOS, but I’ve come to realize how much I depend on it. I’ve emailed to request TE integration. Hopefully, they can add it quickly.
Writing with iA Writer
Based on recommendations from this thread on Micro.blog I’ve been using iA Writer for the last week for my Markdown writing on Windows.
For a couple days I used Sublime Text with Markdown Extended and Monokai Extended, rounded out with WordCount so I can see character count. It worked until I realized that I wanted something that was quick to open and start typing, which is exactly what iA Writer does best. It reminds me of Drafts on iOS in that regard.
My favorite features in iA Writer are the character count that can be shown all the time while hiding the menu bar, as well as the ability to have typewriter scrolling turned on. I like to focus on the text I am currently writing instead of having to scroll to get the current line to the middle of the screen.
Adding links is quick and easy using
Ctrl+K if you have the URL on the clipboard it pastes it in then focuses on the title section. Indenting lists is a bit peculiar when you hit Tab it moves one space which looks odd to see the indent being on almost the same level as preceding line.
I do have a few feature requests that I think would improve the experience.
More view options
- I’m not a fan of the overly large margins, therefore giving margin sizing options would be great.
- Font Options are needed.
- Another feature I am missing but is in beta is the library that exists on the Mac version. I would love to be able to click a post in my Drafts folder within iA Writer and start typing as the Mac does.
- The ability to autosave would be much appreciated or keep the text in the editor. I’ve lost a couple of short posts due to closing the file or opening another file, and this could either be solved with an autosave option, keep the text in the editor, or open files in a new window option. I prefer opening the second file in a separate window as well as an autosave option.
Overall iA Writer is a great Markdown application, and I will keep with it for the foreseeable future. I’m looking forward to the Library feature being release as well as more customizable preferences.
I’m trying to find a writing app for Windows for blogging. Currently, I am using Notepad++, which I use for script/file editing. I sometimes use Grammarly because they have character counts, which is a must. Suggestions would be appreciated.