Writing


In this modern world, we spend a lot of time writing, and there are a lot of different ways to do this. Personally, I prefer the keyboard, because my handwriting is truly atrocious. And please, don’t ask about cursive.

I noticed recently that I’ve got an impressive number of different ways to type things on my computer- not just things like “Mail” versus “Notes” versus “Messages,” but an actual wide array of apps I’ve installed myself. I thought I’d go through the ones I use frequently, and for what.

First, the included: I use Notes for a lightweight text editor with seamless sync between my phone and my laptop. Not a whole lot goes in there, generally things I’ll need quick access to for a day or two. I’ve also started using Stickies, mostly just so I can have a line or two of a note jotted down and keep it open all the time without it using much desktop real estate.

Then there’s Pages, which I tend to use for things that are assigned to me: school projects, the occasional report for work, things like that. Pages works well as a rich text editor, but it’s notably lacking in features when compared to Word, so I also have Word installed. Word for Mac, however, is almost hilariously out-of-date, and so I tend to avoid using it if I can.

I do use OneNote quite frequently, because it is, as the name might suggest, a beautiful way to take notes. I first started using it on my Windows computer a couple years ago, after I got fed up with the inconsistencies and bugginess of the Evernote app. (And, of course, the advertisements and incredibly limited upload traffic that Evernote had.) It is, currently, the most up-to-date of the Microsoft Office Suite, and available for free, and I cannot recommend it enough. While the Mac version is still lacking many of the features that the Windows version has, it’s rapidly catching up, and with apps out for all versions of it and OneDrive space being as cheap as it is, it’s a wonderful piece of software.

After that comes Day One, a journaling app that I’ve been using for more than a year now. It actually wound up leading to my usage of the next two apps I’ll mention, but first I’ll describe it: Day One provides a clean writing interface and a significant amount of automatically-attached metadata, which makes it perfect for someone as data-obsessed as I am. I enjoy it a lot, and cannnot recommend it enough. Their iPhone app, which syncs just as seamlessly as Notes, but allows you to select Dropbox or iCloud, is on sale at the moment, I believe. Check it out.

Next on the list is Mou, a Markdown editor that’s currently in a free beta, and which I am definitely planning to purchase when the full version comes out, predicted to be sometime in 2015. What’s Markdown, you ask? It’s John Gruber’s solution for the fact that HTML, while a robust language, is a bit clunky if all you want to do is write an article. I first started using it thanks to Day One, and realized that it made more sense to me than the menu- and keyboard-shortcut-laden interface of most rich text editors. Mou is a lightweight program that features live-rendering, similar to Day One, and provides a more open writing interface than Day One does, which makes it my preferred editor for any long-form writing that doesn’t need to be strictly structured.

And then there’s Desk, another Markdown-centric app; I should note, however, that it doesn’t require knowledge of Markdown, and indeed has a nicely-handled implementation of both Markdown and traditional rich text editing. I’ll mention that it doesn’t include live rendering of Markdown, which I would like as an addition, but from what I’ve heard the developer is still planning to add features, so I’ll hope for that to show up in the future. In the meantime, Desk is a very nice text editor that connects to most blogging platforms, and what I’m currently using to write this post.

Those are the main text editors I use, although I should mention that I’ve also got Eclipse and Xcode installed, both of which could technically be called text editors, although they have way more features than just that, being full IDEs for the development of software. In a similar vein, I have Sublime Text 2, which I use any time I have to actually dig in and write some HTML or CSS. It’s a wonderful text editor when you don’t need rich text, and provides some nice features for working with code. As a bonus, it’s available for free, with an optional purchase to support the developers.

 

Anyhow, that’s my software setup for all the writing I do, of which there’s been a significant amount lately. I’ve been feeling a bit more verbose of late, and I wanted to explain to people what I use to put down my thoughts ramblings.

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