Ulysses 1.6

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fehnman
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Wed Jul 02, 2008 7:06 pm Post

Eek. I do think that may be me. I hope not, though, as I don't really think it describes my approach to Scrivener at all...


I don't think that's you. It's all about the "demanders' attitude", and the way these demanders tend to hail to those who implement every line on everybody's wishlist.

It's ironic, see? User A says "implement this, your app is bull without it, I'm a customer, you need to do what I tell you". However, if the developer would listen to User A just for the fact that he's a customer, the developer would have to implement every idea by every customer. The outcome would be similar to an application without any primary conceptual stage, and as we all know would not meet ANY customer's demands.

Well...

As for "pissed" or "arrogant": We took quite a lot of beating during the past couple of years, with users of other folks' software invading every thread on every forum or blog talking Ulysses down to start with. We never changed our way, because we strongly belived that it would mean betrayal to those users who actually liked what we're offering. We're five years in and didn't release a single update anybody had to pay for. Five years, and people keep rushing in, calling names, trying to force us out of business. People who *just don't like our application*. I mean... we're not doing anything illegal, we're not forcing anybody, we ain't even responsible for that all-time-weakness of the US Dollar. All this bashing can get to you, and it's quite a wonder we're still around. If arrogance is what it takes to get through this, so be it.

All the best
Marcus

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Wed Jul 02, 2008 7:59 pm Post

I am one of those who left Ulysses for Scrivener, simply because it addressed all my requirements as a writer of fiction. My frustration with Ulysses was that it seemed developer-led, not writer-led. I became increasingly frustrated at the inability to organise my files as I wanted, and I'm not sure this is addressed in 1.6.

Scrivener is designed by a writer, that much you can tell.

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KB
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Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:16 pm Post

Hi Marcus,

Thanks for your post. I e-mailed Max a long-ish message earlier to ensure there were no bad feelings in case he was referring to me. :) I'm really sorry you've experienced some bashing from users of other apps, especially if anyone has used Scrivener to bash Ulysses. (On the other hand, I've never seen a bad review of Ulysses, which says something.) There is certainly a minority of would-be-users who will try to tell you what you need to put in your app and who don't like "no" as an answer, who will argue and get frustrated and even slightly aggressive. (I had one tell me I had a s**t name because I didn't like his ideas and replied in a tone similar to the one he took with me.) I've been lucky so far in that most users aren't like this, and I'm slowly getting better at not taking it personally... Except that it's hard not to take it personally, like you say, because of the amount of work and energy you put into creating something you believe in. (I think zikade got it right in comparing it to having your novel or story criticised by others. It's painful; it hurts.) I've always found it curious how, as a general rule, shareware seems to be thought of as being open to user-driven features whereas no one (sane) would dream of trying to e-mail Microsoft or Adobe to tell them what to put in Word or Photoshop. I feel sure - in fact I know from seeing your forums that this must be true - that you must feel the same as me in that user suggestions are great as they give you something to think about and evaluate, putting your app in a new light. You might decide the feature doesn't fit, or it might show you how you could make something different but related clearer or better. The trouble is when someone starts arguing and telling you that you are being stupid because you won't implement their suggestion.

As for my following comment, please bear in mind that I'm an ignorant Brit with only one language: The comments about "arrogant" and so forth - I wonder if this is a German/English-speaking issue? I used to hang out on a forum whose user-base was equally split between German and English-speakers; I also had a couple of good German friends. It took me a while to realise that sometimes German translated into English could sound very matter-of-fact to the point of seeming abrupt. So it may just be a misinterpretation on the part of English speakers. Maybe. Of course, I may be wrong and it may just have been that my friends and those other forum users just thought I was an idiot. :)

Anyway. I just downloaded Ulysses 1.6, and it looks beautiful - good job. I hope you guys don't feel too beaten down; I hope it's just a side-effect of having worked your asses off recently to get this release out. And congratulations on the five years! I hope it becomes ten and twenty and more (though let's not wish our lives away...). I said this to Max via e-mail, but I'll say it again publicly here: I think your update model is admirable and I try to follow something similar myself. Not charging too soon for updates (five years, crikey!), keeping the version numbers to small point updates, and focussing on stability and refinement rather than on whizz-bang new features - I think these things make an application stand out. (I think the DevonThink guys are very good on this, too, as an aside.) Don't let a few would-be-users who don't "get" Ulysses upset you. I can only say from my own perspective that when I was nagging you about italics or structured folders, my persistence at the time was only because I was so enamoured of Ulysses, I so wanted it to work for me, that I was over-zealous. I wanted Ulysses be for me... But it wasn't. (As you pointed out at the time - and I have used this phrase since to users asking for mindmaps or timelines in Scrivener - asking for such features was like asking Adobe for, say, an MP3 editor in PhotoShop.) So it may just be that the users having a go are only doing so because they want Ulysses to be for them, when you have always honestly declared - as is quite right of any honest developer talking about their app - that it cannot be for everybody.

That was longer than I meant it to be, so apologies for waffling on. I don't think any Scrivener user who has visited the forums will be any doubt about how much I like Ulysses or about the influence it has had on Scrivener, so I'll just say congrats again on 1.6 and the five year anniversary.

All the best,
Keith

P.S. Tripper - actually I think both Marcus and Max are writers too. I believe that they came to develop Ulysses in much the way I came to develop Scrivener - to address their own needs as writers. Todd Ransom did the same with Avenir/StoryMill. I think the fact that they all take different approaches shows how many different approaches to writing there are. I know for a fact that StoryMill users - and probably Ulysses users too - have criticised Scrivener for not being writer-friendly!

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Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:54 pm Post

The comments about "arrogant" and so forth - I wonder if this is a German/English-speaking issue?


Maybe, though in my case I really doubt it. ;)

Thanks for the congrats and kind words and all. Really appreciated.
Have fun.

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Wed Jul 02, 2008 9:16 pm Post

Oh no, don't tell me you're not German - now I'm going to have to pull both feet out of my mouth (and not for the first time)... :oops:

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Wed Jul 02, 2008 9:24 pm Post

Every good software needs somebody who protects it, who decides which path to follow, otherwise it will soon stop being a good software.

I always admired Keith's decidedness in his responses to wishes that did make more or less sense, and I admired especially the friendly way in which he was decided (I guess only Brits have this gift), although sometimes it was me he said "no, this will not happen" to. :) After a while - and if you are really using the software you're discussing - you get used to a lot of things you wanted to be different in the beginning, and sometimes you understand even why it's better they are the way they are.

But - a sad fact - there are a lot of idiots out there, and that's what poor developers have to get used to. Which is harder, of course, than not getting one's wishes fulfilled. As someone stated insightfully: "The internet is in the hands of people who have too much time - and they have too much time for a reason..."

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Thu Jul 03, 2008 1:21 pm Post

KB wrote:P.S. Tripper - actually I think both Marcus and Max are writers too. I believe that they came to develop Ulysses in much the way I came to develop Scrivener - to address their own needs as writers. Todd Ransom did the same with Avenir/StoryMill. I think the fact that they all take different approaches shows how many different approaches to writing there are. I know for a fact that StoryMill users - and probably Ulysses users too - have criticised Scrivener for not being writer-friendly!


Keith,
If that's the case then I stand corrected, although I was ceratinly not alone in my frustration with Ullyses. This was evidenced by the type of exchanges on their forum - the sort of exchanges I have never seen on the Scrivener forum. I take the point though that some people get on with it, I just think you need to have a certain mind, one that can happily cope with the cognitive dissonance of being creative in a 'programming' environment. It says more about me than anything.
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Thu Jul 03, 2008 1:57 pm Post

As I go through 1.6 and note the new features, I have to remark that despite their reputation, they really have listened to their users over the course of time. It took a while in some regards, but the two major requests have been "show me my italics," and "I need folders." Looking over the new release, I see both of these are addressed---indeed italics were addressed in the prior version. It is still a semantic editor, meaning italics are mark-up not rich text, but as a user of MMD that's a *feature* and a very important one at that.

They tried to address the grouping issue with collections in 1.5, and like Apple's retort to tabbed browsing with Safari Snap-back, it didn't quite work out the way they wanted---but ended up creating a compelling *complement* to their eventually capitulation to the original demand. Safari now has tabs and Snap-back, and no other browser has that elegant combination. It would be interesting to see how Ulysses's combination of filtered collections and groups work out. Other programs have this combination to a degree, but in a different manner.

Anyway, I think it is an excellent release, and I don't see the arrogance in that blog post either. They've made a unique and brave application in a world that doesn't by default "get" what they are trying to do. There are a lot of people that like it though, obviously, or they wouldn't still be putting out releases. I like it. If Scrivener wasn't out in the world, I'd be perfectly happy in Ulysses I think.
.:.
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Sun Jul 06, 2008 12:51 am Post

zikade wrote:
fgrieser wrote:That's simply not true!

Now, you got me pissed off.

Franz ;-)


Stop making my point, or else....

Uh, got carried away, there.


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Sun Jul 06, 2008 4:07 am Post

I guess the question I still have is—where is the value in Ulysses? And I don't mean this facetiously, or critically. But it's obviously well thought-of, and it's certainly high-priced. And I, of all people, am awfully sympathetic to their text purism—though not, I suppose, enough to get MMD running in Scrivener. But what is there in the application that justifies its cost? DEVONthink, for example, is a little old fashioned, and a little hard to maneuver, but its advocates can say that its ability to handle many GB of data, and its concordance AI, make it invaluable. So what element of Ulysses makes it invaluable itself?

EDIT: Though I should note that my playing around with it does leave me a little baffled that all those undifferentiated sidebar sub-panes could EVER become useful or friendly for me.

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Sun Jul 06, 2008 8:00 pm Post

Vermonter17032 wrote:I have taken a look at Ulysses, and I have to admit I don't get it. Why the focus on using symbols in the text to create formatting? That's kind of wiki-like, right? Is there an advantage to this approach?

...

Steve


This may be because one of the common complaints about Ulysses was that it couldn't do italics. Most fiction writers I know (myself included) use italics or want to be able to use them, if they need/chose to. Before Scrivener existed, I took a long look at Ulysses but in those days formatting of any kind was not available and in the end I realized I couldn't do without italics.

(Note that I haven't looked at it since Scrivener appeared, so I don't know its current feature set.)

Edited to add: My apologies for missing AmberV's ref to italics in her earlier post.

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Sun Jul 06, 2008 8:24 pm Post

I suppose there are rabid camps in most areas of creativity, but since I'm a writer I particularly noticed them in regards to writing. Perhaps software apps are susceptible to this by association with all the how-to-write camps out there.

Some will say you can only write a novel with an outline, others will rant about never using an outline, some will write a raw first draft, others advocate reworking one scene or chapter before moving on to the next, some say a real writer has to write in longhand or on yellow pads or in expensive bound journals, while others say Word is the ticket (with Windows, of course!), or sneer at anyone who gave up the standard (early WordPerfect or - if you go back far enough - Wordstar).

Fortunately we have choices. If the rabid among us can't envision that others work differently, then perhaps the only downfall is in the rabid one's imagination.

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Mon Jul 07, 2008 3:57 am Post

I did use WordStar, and on an old Kaypro. Primitive, but that's how I made my living at the time. A few years ago I discovered Ulysses, which seemed then (and still does) to be the first genuine writer's tool on the market. Since then, Scrivener and Celtx: Scrivener because I'm comfortable organizing fiction with it; Celtx because the formatting and web services make it easy to get revisions to directors and actors. But I still keep Ulysses around, because I still like it.

And I still keep handy a supply of notebooks -- top-bound, not side bound -- and pens. Sometimes, you just have to get down and feel the words flowing onto the paper.

Phil
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Mon Jul 07, 2008 4:05 am Post

cruxdestruct wrote:I guess the question I still have is—where is the value in Ulysses? And I don't mean this facetiously, or critically. But it's obviously well thought-of, and it's certainly high-priced. And I, of all people, am awfully sympathetic to their text purism—though not, I suppose, enough to get MMD running in Scrivener. But what is there in the application that justifies its cost?


The answer, I think, isn't any one aspect of the software but its overall fit and feel. I was a Ulysses user for a long time and dismissed an early version of Scrivener. I now prefer Scrivener, but I have no trouble imagining someone else looking at the two apps--not even comparing features, necessarily, just spending a few minutes in the interface--and saying, "Ulysses, now that's really me."

It's very difficult to explain why you like what you like.

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Mon Jul 07, 2008 3:15 pm Post

Fair enough. I guess I wanted to make sure that, after spending a few minutes on the interface, and importing my current Scriv project into it, and coming away saying 'Ulysses, that's not me'—that I wasn't missing anything that would make someone say, 'It won't fit right away, but spend a couple hours with it and you'll love the thing.'