Major updates to my favorite writing apps

iA Writer 6 and Ulysses 27 arrive, bearing features their adherents had long requested.


Important note, 2022-06-22: I made some errors herein that I have now fixed, as noted in a subsequent post.

June, 2022, has turned out to be a big month for the writing apps to which I most frequently turn, iA Writer and Ulysses. Both reached new major versions and added some long-awaited features.

iA Writer 6

iA Writer 6 was released June 14 for macOS, iOS, and iPadOS.1 This version added wikilinks functionality, as Lorenzo Gravina’s video demonstrates:

(After having spent the last three-and-a-half years using iA Writer, I agree with him about those key shortcuts that moved, but them’s the breaks.)

In addition to what Gravina described, the official release announcement mentioned these enhancements:

  • Preview mode in iPadOS (previously only in macOS and Windows).
  • More keyboard- and keypad-based access to commands and features.
  • More choices for highlighting text.
  • More cross-OS visual consistency.

And, in case you’re curious: no, iA Writer 6 still limits you to the same three display fonts as did iA Writer 5. Some things never change.

Ulysses 27

As for Ulysses 27 — released June 20 for macOS, iOS, and iPadOS — its main addition is tables. And, yes, the Markdown it exports2 for tables does work perfectly well with static site generators (SSGs), as you’ll see in a bit. To create a table in Ulysses 27, you either use the main menu or type (tbl) in the editor. A default table appears:

Screen capture from Ulysses 27

Click/tap this to get an overlay that lets you control how many rows and columns it’ll have, as well as any caption you want to give it:

Screen capture from Ulysses 27, #2

After I refine it down to a two-column, three-row table, here’s how it looks in the Ulysses editor with my chosen edits:

Screen capture from Ulysses 27, #3

And this is the Markdown it exports (I changed my mind and cleared the Caption entry, which otherwise would’ve appeared within the table):

| App       | Current major version |
| --------- | --------------------- |
| iA Writer | 6.x |
| Ulysses | 27.x |

Finally, here’s how this site’s SSG renders that Markdown:

AppCurrent major version
iA Writer6.x

(Of course, I added some styling to make it look better, since the basic Markdown gives you equally basic HTML with no styling other than your browser’s defaults.)

Based on what I see in the Ulysses 27 release notes, the new tables feature offers considerably more options than this simple example would suggest, but you get the idea.

Dollars and cents

iA Writer 6 currently is a free upgrade if you already own iA Writer 5, while a new owner pays $49.99. I was pleasantly surprised by the free upgrade, given that a major version upgrade for a non-subscription app typically isn’t free.

Ulysses is a subscription3 app, so Ulysses 27 obviously comes with that. New Ulysses subscriptions are $49.99/year or $5.99/month. In my case, I’m still paying my original $39.99/year rate from 2018. Whether that’ll get upped the next time around is something I’ll have to wait another year to learn, since I just renewed for another year’s worth.

  1. I assume other supported OSs will get similarly major updates down the line. ↩︎

  2. The export is from Ulysses’s proprietary Markdown XL in the default Ulysses use of iCloud-based “sheets,” as its docs are called. However, Ulysses also lets you create standard Markdown files in separate, “external” folders, and any tables you create in such Ulysses files also will work as described in this post. ↩︎

  3. To those who involuntarily jeer, “Boo, all subs suck,” whenever someone mentions Ulysses: just know that, when others pay me to create content for their websites, I use Ulysses for that writing. It has thus paid for itself many times over and well into the future. ↩︎