I love writing apps, but now I hate Ulysses

I wrote most of my last book, Footnotes, in an app called Scrivener. I still really like it – it has a cool simplified but powerful IOS version, but the compiling process (the bit where you output the words you’ve written) seemed a bit buggy and very complicated. Also, the IOS version was a long time coming, so I drifted about a bit between apps as the chapter for Footnotes strolled in. I would say that about 20-30% of Footnotes was actually written on my iPhone in plain texts in coffee shops after runs that later synced up with Scrivener. These apps enabled me to make an organic link between the experience and its recreation in prose.

That is until I heard about Ulysses. At first it seemed like the Holy Grail. Simple to use, but powerful underneath, and the compile was slick, clean and stylish. (Top tip: compiling in a variety of formats makes it much easier for writers to catch typos). So I invested in it. I bought the desktop app for my Mac (I think about £35+), then I bought versions for my phone and iPad (can’t remember how much they were, but they were more expensive than Scrivener £15 each?). And it worked like a dream. I didn’t like not being able to see the sync progress, but other than that it was great – a clean and price writing environment where thoughts could happen.

One of Scrivener’s advantages over Ulysses was its research management (that you could import websites, PDFs, etc). But I had outsourced that from Scrivener to another app called DevonTHINK (it’s amazing). I had used Evernote for research and capture-stuff, but they switched to a subscription model, hiked the price, and made the app a whole lot crAPPer, too. DVT cost about £120 for the whole suite, but I have no regrets at all. It’s a great research management tool. Scrivener for my words, DevonTHINK for everyone else’s.

IMG_0543.jpgSo I have been using Ulysses on and off for a couple of years. I opened up the app today and it informed that they, too are switching over to a subscription model. But I already paid, quite a lot, for these apps – now I have to ‘subscribe’ to them, too? It seems more like a form of ransomware (we have taken control of your software and unless you continue to pay us, you cannot use it.) It feels like the greediest and most tightfisted way to do business imaginable. My solution is simple. I’m deleting the apps and will never use them again.

Thank God there is Scrivener. All I have had to do to accustom myself to the change is spend an hour or two familiarising myself with the ins and outs of the Compile complexities, and now there is no longer any reason to have Ulysses at all. Goodbye!! It’s not me, it’s you.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Graham Dampier says:

    Bear is a very effective way of writing small chunks of text on particular topics. I think it is a once of pay to download app that allows you to install it on all your iOS devices without an additional charge.


  2. Rasya says:

    I’ve been using Ulysses for 2 years and it makes me mad that they’re charging us for subscription fees for ‘updates’. I’m still on the fence about Scrivener because it looks a bit complicated so I’m still looking for other alternatives.


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