I have discovered an application for the iPad called Daedalus, which is a text editing application. I had said that I had bought enough text editing applications for iOS, but yesterday I saw this one available for 79 cents and I was tempted. I still would not have bought it, except for the fact that it has the unique export feature of being able to export out to EPUB. So I broke down my defences and bought the application. Last of the big spenders! Still love Byword for text editing.
After playing with it for some time I was pleased that I had actually bought it and not just the for fact that I could export out to an e-book. It has an unusual interface, in that it doesn’t have pages but has stacks. Each of the stacks can contain an unlimited number of notes (called sheets) and you can swipe left and right to navigate between these sheets. Each sheet has a title area and a text entry area. When you want to add a new sheet at the end of your stack you just swipe from right to left and a new sheet is added. I am sure that it must be possible to add a new note in the middle of the pack or stack, but I am still in the process of finding out all that the application does, as yet.
Daedalus synchronises with the cloud
The application synchronises with Box.net or you can synchronise with Dropbox. If you have a webDAV server you also have another way of exporting and synchronising out. I have had most success with exporting out of Daedalus by sending the stacks or sheets out to Dropbox. When I have tried to export out and have some markdown text sent to Byword, I found that it did not work for me. So for the moment I would say that Markdown does not work particularly well with Daedalus, but could work better in the future with an upgrade to the application. I should really contact the developer of Daedalus to tell them of my experiences with trying to export out markdown text. At least when you export out you can choose the file suffix for markdown that you prefer and there are three choices. For the moment the work around for exporting the markdown text , is to export out to Dropbox and then go into Byword and opening the file from within. The only thing is though, that you have to remember to save the file out to the proper Dropbox folder so that it can be seen in [Byword].
Navigating within the Daedalus app.
There is a stack view or overview, then there is the sheet overview and an edit view. Depending upon which view you are in, within the application, you have various gestures to use to navigate. In any of the views you can swipe left or right to flip through the sheets or stacks. If you are in a sheet overview then tapping on that sheet will enter the view to let you start editing. Or you can do a pinch open to achieve the same effect. It is possible to rearrange the sheets within the stack and to do this you tap and hold, then you can move your sheets wherever you want them within the stack. If you want to move a sheet from one stack to another stack then you can drop the sheet into the dock at the bottom of the screen, move to the other stack, and then you can grab the sheet and put it where you want it. A close type of pinch will get you back into the stack overview.
Levels of stacks and sheets for viewing
When you are at the top level of the application you can swipe through left and right between the stacks that you have within Daedalus. If you tap on one of the stacks you get to see whatever that stack contains in a similar sort of view to the stacks overview. Another tap on the screen on one of the sheets, you can then see the text contained within that sheet. Tap on the screen once more and you will enter the edit mode and the keyboard will appear. It is a close pinch gesture that you do twice to get back to the start again.
The button row when you are in editing mode
You have an extra row of keys to give you quick access to characters that you would normally have to dig down to find. There are three keys to the left and four keys to the right and each of these keys gives you a choice of five characters. To see the choices available you tap and hold. The keys on the left-hand side that you choose from, are the tab, open and closing quotes, parentheses, a pair of Asterisk’s and the more than symbol. There is also the hash symbol and the square quotes. You get different symbols available on the right-hand side and it is also possible to edit these buttons. When editing these characters available, you don’t really get much of a choice in the list. I have it set up so that it is easy for me to put in the characters I need to write Markdown. Spot on!
Daedalus has a number of nice little tricks
If you have a word selected and you use the extra keyboard button to add the Asterisk before and after, you can do that without losing the word you have selected. Do it once and it will give you the italics in markdown, select the words again and it add more to make the words bold. Or you can put these characters in as you go. It is clever enough to know that if you put in an open square bracket then type in your word or words, that when you hit the same character button again it will then put in the close square bracket.
If you are working on some text at the beginning of the document and would like to get to the end, you can do so quickly, by tapping on the middle of the button bar. Another nice little trick, is that if you tap two fingers in the space to the right of the text you will move the insertion point one word at a time to the right and of course the same trick to go to the left. The app even has a character and word counter included.
Research and writing – Browser included
The Daedalus application also includes a browser which you can use if you need to go off and check a fact or two for your writing. In the list available you get Google, Wikipedia, a dictionary site, Daring Fireball for Markdown syntax and one for the last site you visited. That is all accessed from the third icon from the left at the top, which is called the lookup button.
Daedalus has simply marvellous export facilities
To be able to export, you tap on the icon in the far left corner and then you see the export button become available. There are a number of options available for export including PDF, print, send as email and text, but the one that really got me was the export to EPUB. Obviously, the limitation with an application like this, is that it is going to be all text, I don’t think it is possible to add images, apart from choosing an image to be the front page of your e-book. Even so, it is still pretty super that a text editing application like this has such a facility. I was so impressed with this feature, that I bought the application even though I had said I would buy no more text editing applications for iOS. I am pretty sure that Daedalus is going to be one of my favourite text editing applications for use on my iPad.