Ulysses reborn

fl
fletcher
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Tue Aug 04, 2009 11:23 pm Post

AmberV wrote:
Vermonter17032 wrote:BTW, do I recall properly that you were working on a primer for MMD? If so, is it available?


Yeah, I really need to finish that. It is basically done; I just need to do good solid proof. Thanks for reminding me.



Let me know if you need any input, have questions, or - more likely - found bugs that need fixing.


F-

bo
bodsham
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Fri Aug 14, 2009 10:47 am Post

I tried very hard to like Ulysses (pre-Scrivener). But being unable to type simple italics, and getting a few abusive messages on the forum from other users when I suggested this might be an idea, put me off. I don't know if this is the case with 2 but it wasn't correct that you could set up a tag to set italics the same way as you can in a normal word processor. In order to that you had to select the text to italicise. You couldn't turn italics or a tag on or off before typing, which is what I do normally.

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bodsham
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Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:00 am Post

Sheesh. I just tried italics in 2. Yes, you can set up Command-I for italics. But all that does is put you in between whatever format marks you choose to represent italics. When you want to move onto the next unitalicised text you have to physically move the insertion mark outside the formatting tags. Madder than Mick Mad the Maddest Man in Madtown.

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jebni
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Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:04 am Post

It's just a fundamentally different philosophy, bodsham. Once you go down the road of plain text with markup, there's no coming back. There really are good reasons underpinning that approach, but if it isn't for you, then... <shrugs>

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bodsham
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Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:31 am Post

But it isn't a fundamentally different philosophy. In V2 they say you can have italics. It's just you're going to have to use them in a way that's time-consuming, counter-intuitive and difficult.

je
jebni
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Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:05 pm Post

I think we're going to have to agree to disagree, bodsham. Correct me if I'm wrong, but while I'm sure the Ulysses people say you can control the look and feel of your marked up text, and that they now provide shortcuts for applying markup styles to selected text, surely the markup still needs to be there -- it's the underpinning ethic of the entire application, isn't it? Ulysses is semantic. It requires those annoying symbols to be there, otherwise it'd be a rich text application like Scrivener. I totally get why people are turned off by markup -- I really sympathise. But on the other hand, other people find rich text to be incredibly annoying and inconsistent. I think you're expecting Ulysses to be something it'll never be.

Meanwhile, I use Fletcher's MultiMarkdown bundle for TextMate. This means that if you select text and hit command-i in TextMate, it makes the text appear italic, and also wraps asterisks around it, like *this*. I don't find this annoying in the least, because it's what I expect. The text appears as italics in TextMate not because it is italic in and of itself, but because TextMate recognises that there is text in between two asterisks, which means "emphasis", rather than italics. In turn, TextMate has preferences (which you can change, just like Ulysses) to display stuff with "emphasis markup" as italic text. The asterisks are what matter. They can be displayed in whatever way you please. Even though text actually appears in italics, this system fundamentally separates appearance from meaning. Some people want their whole textual world to be like this, and others don't.

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Vermonter17032
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Fri Aug 14, 2009 2:48 pm Post

Bobsham,

I agree with you about the semantic editing in Ulysses. I can see how it can make a difference once the writing is done, but it doesn't seem to me to have any advantage during the writing process.

I am, however, intrigued by a plain text editor. I often find myself writing in Notetab for Windows. Plain text can be liberating. So I've been trying to evaluate Ulysses simply as a souped up plain text editor. If I were to use it as such, I'd probably export the text to a wordprocessor to add styles and prepare it for presentation, just because that's what I'm comfortable using.

Steve

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ptram
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Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:38 pm Post

Vermonter17032 wrote:I am, however, intrigued by a plain text editor. I often find myself writing in Notetab for Windows. Plain text can be liberating.

Recently, I've started writing in WriteMonkey for Windows, since there is no 10" laptop Mac around, and this was the writing environment I found more fascinating in Windows (mostly because it hides the bad looking, obstrusive and distracting user interface).

While I find WM a nice place to write, and the pleasant and productive mix between writing in the free air and the comfort of the spartan typing machine, I still would love to work in Scrivener when I'm out. I loved to do it with my MacBook Pro, but it is really too big to carry around.

At first, using semantic syntax may appeal to our geeky soul, but makes us hate computers when time comes to manually reapply all formatting. You see, I make heavy use of italics. Ops, sorry, I meant _italics_.

Paolo

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fletcher
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Fri Aug 14, 2009 10:12 pm Post

ptram wrote:At first, using semantic syntax may appeal to our geeky soul, but makes us hate computers when time comes to manually reapply all formatting. You see, I make heavy use of italics. Ops, sorry, I meant _italics_.

Paolo



I suspect you could find a better workflow if you're having to manually reapply formatting to a "semantic" document. It's certainly not for everyone, but that's why I wrote MultiMarkdown, and why I use it. I do everything in plain text. When I want to see what the finished product is going to look like with all it's formatting, pictures, what have you, I run it through MMD and open the output (HTML, PDF, DOC, RTF, OpenOffice, etc).

I can use any text editor to write in (plain text, or RTF - I just ignore the formatting ability and treat it like plain text). I can also use the power of regexp to change and "reformat" the plain text in something like TextMate - try changing "foo" from italics to bold, but only when it precedes "bar" in anything but a plain text based document format!

It's certainly not for everyone, but I suspect a lot of people would be happier using an approach like this if they only knew about it.

My $.02....

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ptram
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Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:26 am Post

Fletcher,

As you state, different tools for different writers. For my style, italics is not an embellishment, but an integral part of my writing. "You are really great" is not the same as "You are really great. So, it is not the same seeing it while I write, or when layout time arrives.

However, since I use your syntax and appreciate it for how logical and easy it is, I would also love writing tools incorporates automatic translators for MMD, like they do for RTF or plain text. The more it will spread around, the more I guess we will see such conversion tools included in the apps.

Paolo
Last edited by ptram on Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mb
mbbntu
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Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:33 am Post

The big, big problem for me is footnotes (or endnotes). When I wrote my book, most of the chapters had 50-60 footnotes, some of them a whole paragraph in length. I don't know quite how this could be handled in text markup. For me it is almost essential to get the footnotes out of my eyeline while I'm writing the main text. (This is one of the things that makes Scrivener unsatisfactory for me, though there are work-rounds like putting the footnote text in one of the panes to the side of the main writing window -- but it's not ideal because you then have to move 60 snippets of text to the right place later.) But I am beginning to find the idea of text markup more attractive. If someone could tell me how to solve the footnote problem, I would certainly try it.

All the best,

Martin.
You should judge people not by how close they get to the top, but by how far they have come from the bottom. Some people have a mountain to climb just to get to the place where others start out. (Me, 2010)

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beru
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Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:46 am Post

hehe, I was wondering the same, I quite like Ulysses´ interface and some of the features, they also have an iPhone version in the making, but the non-WYSIWYG approach is difficult/time comsuming for me to deal with.

Concerning footnotes I found this:
http://www.the-soulmen.com/board/commen ... e=1#Item_0

But I still do not know if it is easy/straightforward to use or not :shock:

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fletcher
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Sat Aug 15, 2009 1:53 pm Post

mbbntu wrote:The big, big problem for me is footnotes (or endnotes). When I wrote my book, most of the chapters had 50-60 footnotes, some of them a whole paragraph in length. I don't know quite how this could be handled in text markup. For me it is almost essential to get the footnotes out of my eyeline while I'm writing the main text. (This is one of the things that makes Scrivener unsatisfactory for me, though there are work-rounds like putting the footnote text in one of the panes to the side of the main writing window -- but it's not ideal because you then have to move 60 snippets of text to the right place later.) But I am beginning to find the idea of text markup more attractive. If someone could tell me how to solve the footnote problem, I would certainly try it.

All the best,

Martin.



MMD has a syntax for [^footnotes] that lets you keep them out of the way.


The actual footnote can be anywhere you want.

Even several paragraphs away, or at the end of the document.... Obviously, this post is an example of that syntax.


[^footnotes]: I absolutely agree that I want to have footnotes out of the way when writing, but like the option of being able to keep them somewhere close (e.g. the bottom of the "page" or section) so I don't have to dig to far to find them. But I don't want them to interrupt the flow of the main body of text....

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AmberV
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Sat Aug 15, 2009 1:57 pm Post

MMD footnotes are pretty simple to use, actually. Really simple if you use Scrivener's footnotes (they get automatically turned into the correct text version upon compile), but since you've stated you don't like the in-line approach, you might like MMD's better. To make a footnote you just put the reference in like so[^fn1], and then anywhere else in the book you can put the content:

[^fn1]: This is the content of the footnote.

It can be next to the paragraph, at the bottom of the section, or off in another document altogether. The only stipulation is that each has its own identifier. The 'fn1' is completely arbitrary. I could have used [^booker-2003] instead.

I just use Scrivener's footnotes myself, but I would imagine that an easy route would be to dump footnote content into the Notes pane since you can get from there and back to the editor with a keystroke, and then move them all out in bulk to a central place once the writing is done. Another alternative would be to leave the central footnote document repository open in a split and just switch back and forth. Since the reference marker stays with the source text, you don't have to worry about piecing everything back together later as with your current method, and to my eye the reference marker is about as low-profile as you'd want it (less space consuming than Ulysses, for that matter). You can still see a note is there, but it only takes up about as much space as a printed footnote/endnote marker.

ptram wrote:As you state, different tools for different writers. For my style, italics is not an embellishment, but an integral part of my writing. "You are really great" is not the same as "You are [i[really[/i] great. So, it is not the same seeing it while I write, or when layout time arrives.


I think you might be thrown by the terminology. When a semantic author says "emphasis" they mean to abstract the concept of display from the content, they don't mean it is just an unimportant embellishment. Rather than saying, "this is italic" they simply mean "this is emphasised" and how that emphasis appears in the final copy is entirely malleable. In most cases it will be italic, but it needn't be, that's the point. If an editor wants underlined instead for visibility in the proofing copies, that is no problem to arrange (granted Scrivener can handle that too, but with MMD you could also make it bright red and 13pt).

Italics certainly are not an embellishment in the semantic workflow, in fact it could be argued they are even more integral as they'll never suffer loss when copying and pasting between applications. A WYSIWYG text selection pasted into an email client might lose all the emphasis, but a document with *asterisks* is just about as portable as it gets, and pretty much everyone understands the notation.

And in that vein, footnotes are about as portable as they get to. How many times have people "lost" their footnotes when trying to use Pages or TextEdit? With MMD, it's all embedded right into the text itself and could even be pasted into a web form like this and still "be a footnote" that humans can read and MMD can read later on.
.:.
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mb
mbbntu
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Sat Aug 15, 2009 2:05 pm Post

Fletcher and Amber -- very many thanks -- this opens up some exciting possibilities. Could I ask if there is a quick way to get started in MMD without having to read too much? I haven't read your posts thoroughly yet, but will do so now.

Thanks, Martin.
You should judge people not by how close they get to the top, but by how far they have come from the bottom. Some people have a mountain to climb just to get to the place where others start out. (Me, 2010)