If you have read a few posts on my blog, you will know I have a soft spot for productivity apps, ever searching for the best thing. Well I used to also do that with writing apps, my devices have gone through a slew of writing apps over the last few years. My iPad is my primary computer, and writing my primary aim, so the right app is important - I think I found them.
There are now two apps that are my go to applications for writing anything and lots of people ask me what’s the difference between the two. They are Bear and Ulysses, both exceptionally capable apps, and both able to do almost everything the other does. Yet I find myself using both for different things, and the only way to attempt to explain their use case is for me to try and walk you though my writing workflow.
Notes and drafting
Everything starts with an idea. The success in developing of that idea often depends on how much information is at hand, but more often than not in hinges on you remembering to write it down. I often semi plan out an article in my head, but need to minimise the time between that inspiration and noting it down. Workflow is almost detrimental to this process. I started doing this in Ulysses with a simple automation workflow . Now I’m using a launcher shortcut straight into Bear, with the addition of append and prepend in Bear 1.1 I can save web clippings to.
By simply having a long bullet list of article ideas and a strong URL scheme from Bear, allows me to link straight to it and jot it down with ease. Using Workflow I can also dictate this to Bear if I am driving .
Why use Bear? The app is a lot more light weight than Ulysses and opens much quicker. Allowing quick and easy note taking, along with formatting and adding in links. There is nothing inherently wrong with using Ulysses with a similar set up - I just find Bear quicker and easier to draft articles in. I can do what I call zero drafting - where I just type away all my ideas for the article on any device I use in an easier fashion.
Once all the drafting is done and I am getting close to publishing, this is imported into Ulysses. Bear allows me to export in a number of formats but I prefer to use Markdown for ease of transfer. I could very easily transfer this straight into any publishing app or format but the power of Ulysses is held by its ability to format and place in images with ease.
I can work within Ulysses natively as if I were directly in Wordpress - which is my publishing platform of choice. Images I add to the post are automatically added into my media library with tags and headings, which is so much easier than battling with the terrible Wordpress app or web interface.
Ulysses also allows me to preview the article exactly as it would appear once published, even while working offline. The preview also allow me to adding excerpts, featured images, tags and categories. Once I have complicated the final edit and I’m happy with everything, I can hit the publish button and that’s it - DONE.
This rather confused and rambling prose was my attempt to explain my writing workflow and the difference in Bear and Ulysses for me. I am a huge fans of both of these apps, they are both great tools for any dabbler with words. Try them out and see if your workflow is improved with one, or both.