Yohanes Bandung Bondowoso

In Search of Good Writing App - Bear vs Ulysses

The fourth day after I started my subscription with the result of this article, I found the best Writing App and I stick with it. You can read it here In Search of Good Writing App - Part 2, iVim


I just got my new NuType F1 keyboard that I have waited for 4 months from Kickstarter .

I was quite surprised when the man from DHL courier service called me. I got the delivery tracking code 3 days before, and didn’t expect the keyboard got delivered from Hong Kong to Jakarta, Indonesia in that short time.

After I tried the keyboard on My Office’s MacBook Pro (MBP), and tried connecting it to my iPad mini, I feel the need of a good writing app that syncs between my Apple Devices (screw you Bandung, you despised Apple before you got your first Mac!). Previously, I thought my trusty programming text editor — NeoVim in Kitty, will suffice the need. I can just make a folder in my iCloud folder that contains all my markdown note files. I also thought that I will not tolerate the lack of modal editing in regular writing app.

With each part NeoVim excels at, it falls short in other. I cannot sync my work easily with it. Even if I can store the blog post files in iCloud directory in the MBP, I must find a good writing app for the iPad.

My eyes locked between two options: Bear and Ulysses.

## Bear #

I personally find Bear to be a semi WYSIWYG Markdown editor. Bear use real life MarkDown syntax that can be directly copy-pasted to GitHub Gist as my blogging CMS.

Bear uses tags to manage Notes, where each tags represent container, and tags can be nested to represent containers inside container. If that sounds messy for you, try to remember how the tags in website works, and how the nested tags are like the breadcrumbs of website navigation. I will use the writing app for my blog, so the management system of Bear satisfy me enough.

Bear on iPad has a good website scraping & bookmarking system. The Bear share plugin on Safari can append/prepend the link to a dedicated Note, or create new Note with the web’s content scraped.

Bear on iPad doesn’t have search feature inside the Note editor, even though it has system-wide search. Weird.

## Ulysses #

The main catch point that I like from Ulysses is that it shows the heading marks (the number sign “#”) in the left, as how I want my website layout to look like. Unlike Bear, this app won’t enlarge the Headings section, but as I told you, it change the Headings’ color and added marks.

Ulysses also have a great system wide search, it allows you to search words and can be narrowed by keywords (Ulysses’s version of Bear’s tags), even by Markdown formatting! Ulysses provides MacOS’s Spotlight like search.

Ulysses on Mac has focus mode that includes typewriter mode. The mode makes the position of cursor location fixed, as if you are typing with a typewriter. It also has

## Theming #

Both of them has great theming, Ulysses allows you to modify each markup color individually. Bear on Mac has ‘focus mode’ on by default if you omit all the sidebar, while Ulysses allow you to hide the top toolbar to have ‘focus mode’.

Ulysses has line number (or paragraph number, to be exact) to the right of texts, maybe that can be your consideration point. Not for me, though.

## Price #

Ulysses’s subscription fee is more expensive than Bear, at Rp459000/year compared to Rp199000/year. That’s one consideration point.

## Conclusion #

I am writing this section on Ulysses, but I know that I will stick to Bear. Personally, I find Bear’s interface to be cleaner and more pleasant to type on. I will always liked Ulysses’s displaying marks to the left of Headings, but that slightly major point can be ignored. sigh

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