Text Manipulation with FoldingText App

I don’t know how I hadn’t seen this one before and it was just by chance I found this yesterday. I saw a message somewhere from somebody who’d said he had read my book about Good and Geeky writing and he mentioned FoldingText. Out of curiosity I went to the website and found a download link. I thought I’d give it a try and I there was a link for a trial version. There was another link which allowed me to download a paid for version, but it was free. So far, I am quite impressed. I normally do my writing dictation into Scrivener because it works out well with DragonDictate. Using the application FoldingText I’m finding the text appears on screen quicker. When I give commands to move the cursor around within the text it gets there quicker. This makes the whole process of dictation/writing to seem snappier and more efficient.

Useful tricks in FoldingText

Folding Up Sections Of Text

The first trick to mention is the fact you can fold the text, hence the name of the application. If you’re working in a long document you can choose to fold sections of the text out of the way. This is good for moving around within the document and also allowing you to focus in on what you’re working on. The application is a markdown editor and you get it to fold whatever is within a header level. You just have to use the keyboard combination of Command / and the text within that level folds away. Using the same keyboard combination again will toggle the text back out again. There is also a small icon at the end of the title for that section of text, it’s a rectangle with three small dots on it. You click on that and that will also unfold the text.

Focus on a Specific Section of Text

In the same vein as folding separate sections of text individually you can also choose to focus on the area you are working on. Use the keyboard shortcut Command Uand all of the other sections of text will fold leaving just the one you are working on in view. To focus out you use the keyboard shortcut Shift Command U.
There is an outline view which is a small section on the left-hand side of the window. In this area you’ll see a list of your headings in the document. If you’re working on a long document with lots of sections this is a good way to move around in between them.
It’s easy to remove individual folds by clicking on them, but you can also remove all folds by clicking on the small icon in the upper left-hand corner of the document. Of course you also have a keyboard shortcut to do Show All – Command Shift A.
There are a lot of keyboard shortcuts to learn. I don’t think it would take too long if you are constantly using this application to learn the ones you need and use most often. You’ll soon have them in your muscle memory.

Plugins for Extra Functionality

This text editor has a couple of features which are useful. Starting off with the folding and the focusing tricks as well as other niceties such as typewriter scrolling. You can also add a few plug-ins and some of them use a command mode to give you extra features. I’ve had a look at the Critic Markup which allows you to make changes such as additions, deletions, substitutions and comments. This would be good for using with an editor. Your editor would be able to use this markup to correct and make suggestions in your writing.

Lists and to do lists

As well as being able to do unordered lists by using the markdown syntax you can also create a To Do list. It’s really cool way you get nice little checkboxes you can click on. When you click on one of these checkboxes you get extra syntax at the end of the item. It uses /@done which also puts a strike through through the text. It wouldn’t take much to have a shortcut which will also put in a date. This could be done with the system text replacement or by using TextExpander.
Use the app as an outliner too. In the Organize menu you’ll see commands to increase level and decrease level. Also there are commands to move a whole branch up and down the document as well as to the left and right. This is useful if you are outlining a large document or working on a list with sub lists.

Viewing and Sharing Your Work

You can use this with the application Marked2 so you can see what the rendered text looks like. At the moment there isn’t a viewer within the app. You can also use Marked 2 for taking the text out in specific formats. I like that there is Share in the file menu giving me a quick and easy way to get the text into my favourite writing application Ulysses.

The Good and Geeky Verdict On Folding Text

I’m really impressed with the application and I like it. I could see me using it because I like speed with which the text goes into the application when I’m dictating. It’s a shame the application is missing a sister application in iOS. I like it when I can have synchronisation through iCloud as I get with Ulysses or with Drafts. I’m going to give it a couple of weeks to be the application I use for dictation and see how it goes.
It has some nice little tricks up its sleeve and version 2 is free. When version 3 finally comes out it will be an application to be paid for. This is what the application needs if it is going to survive in the world of applications. Apps get forgotten and go into a sunset mode if the developers don’t get paid for their work.

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