Ulysses vs Scrivener – Best Authors Apps

Ulysses vs Scrivener – The choice to make for an author. As you may know from the Scrivener review that I have already written for Mac20Q, I am a big fan of the authors, writers application for the Mac. The app developer has now also written Scrivener for Windows. There are many of us that are waiting for Scrivener for iPad, although to be truthful, I’m not too bothered, as I already have Byword, Writeroom and a number of other writing tools for the iPad. So Scrivener iPad is not a big deal for me really. So with all of the tools that I have for writing, either on my Mac or on my iPad, why would I look at another one? I mean, I also have Pages that I can use to create my articles and one or two other text editors for iPad and Mac. Scrivener for iPad is coming! Recently heard from the developer that the iPad version is going to Beta version soon and will get released later in the year. Not having an iPad version has hurt the Scrivener platform somewhat with the latest upgrade to Ulysses. Many writers have jumped ship and I have been using Ulysses because of getting an iPad Pro it made sense to have my writing where ever I need it. I do a lot of writing using the iPad and I couldn’t wait any longer for the guys at Literature and Latte. Having said that, I still use Scrivener for some tasks. I can publish to the .mobi format seeing as Scrivener links up to the KindleGen app. The Soulmen have said they have no immediate plans to add this feature. There are apps to convert to mobi/Kindle format but it would be great to do it in the app you use for writing. Something else to think about in the Ulysses vs Scrivener debate.
I have my nicely worked out workflow, which starts off in Dragon Dictate and goes via a markdown editor before I publish it through MarsEdit. Despite having everything well sorted for writing both on the Mac and the iPad, I was tempted by a two dollar Tuesday offer. There is a website that has details of savings that can be made on a Tuesday on software for the Mac and I saw the offer for Ulysses Mac. The thing about the Ulysses text tool that made it interesting was the export option to ePub. Even though we now have iBooks Author and the ability to create ePub books through Pages, I decided this was well worth spending two dollars to check out.

Read about the latest version of Scrivener

Will there be a winner? Ulysses vs Scrivener

When Looking at Ulysses vs Scrivener, my first impressions of Ulysses made me think it was much more simple compared to Scrivener. There is the pane in the centre which is for the input of your writing and there are areas to the left and the right of that, for dealing with documents, previews, notes and information about the text you’re working on. There is also a full-screen view which you can use as a distraction free writing space. So you can see there are some quite significant similarities with Scrivener. Whatever task you are working on, on your computer, what you really need is for the software to get out of the way and let you do what you need to do. With Ulysses Mac, it seems that it is possible to do this and get on with your writing. You don’t get a corkboard metaphor for the arranging and visual outlining of your work with Ulysses. You can move documents up or down in the order in the list with drag and drop. You have groups and sheets. The base group could be your manuscript and you might have groups to be the chapters. The sheets in the chapter groups will be the scenes making up the story. Working like this makes it easy to move things around as you need to.

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Using tagging in Ulysses.

Say you want to keep track of all the scenes by character. Simply add a tag for the character and you can set up a filter to show all the scenes with that character.

Tagging files in Ulysses

Tag the documents so you can filter them

Tagged docs inside Ulysses

Filter the documents based on tags

Getting into the Ulysses text editor for writers and authors

The big idea with Ulysses Mac text editor is that it is what they call a semantic text editor. This means that the actual content is separated from the presentation. Same sort of thing with Scrivener too. When you are writing, you can actually define areas of text to be headlines as well as setting certain text to be displayed in bold or italics. But the actual assignment of fonts, colours is left to be dealt with in the export process. This can work out really well because you might want to create an article which will go to a number of different types of file output. You might want to have a PDF, a Word document, a WordPress snippet, or perhaps even export it out as basic text or as Markdown. The Ulysses Mac text editor does give you enough control of how your text will look while you are writing it and tagging it. So when you are reading through your text you can easily see the context of different parts of your document. You can have multiple notepads that can be accessed whether you are in standard mode or console mode. One nice feature is that you can erase text selections and that goes to a text trash area. Then you may decide that you want to reuse that text or perhaps delete it permanently.  I like the use of Markdown XL in Ulysses and it is better than the implementation of markdown in Scrivener. The markdown headlines in Ulysses work great and Scrivener only does the bold and italics.

Writing your book using Ulysses the Mac writers tool

Ulysses vs Scrivener
Whatever it is that you are writing, whether it is a book, a poem or an article, it is not a linear process. You don’t just start at the beginning and keep on working your way through until you get to the end of your creation. You’ll be working a little bit here and a little bit there and what you need is software that will let you arrange it and rearrange it. So your project within Ulysses is the whole book and the documents are the chapters. What you can do also, is to put notes, comments, and other markings, within the text area and mark them as comments or something other than words for the finished item. Then when it is time to export out, all you need to do is to set it within the export, that comments and stuff are left behind. You might even decide that you want to exclude whole documents at the same time as you deal with the style and formatting of everything in the project.

Overview of Ulysses for Mac – Ulysses review

I am bound to look at this in terms of Ulysses vs Scrivener, due to being such a fan of Scrivener.  Ulysses is not as fully functioned as is Scrivener, yet I would say that Ulysses does what it does, well. I think it represents excellent value for Mac users who need good writers software for the Mac.

There are useful export capabilities with both applications – Ulysses vs Scrivener. With Scrivener, you have a mountain of options and probably need to spend a lot of time learning how to get your compiles exported just as you want them. With Ulysses it seems there are fewer options, but there are loads of themes to choose from. It is also possible to make your own themes if you know how to do some CSS coding. Would not be too difficult to take one you mostly like and make alterations to it.  I plan to try using it some more for creating longer articles and exporting out to the electronic publishing format epub. What is your take on this Ulysses vs Scrivener battle? Have you tried both of them to see which works best for you?

When I first tried Ulysses I wasn’t too impressed. Then I bought the iPad. Although I have other writer applications I could use such as Byword, I found I needed something that would work across all the platforms I use. The new version of Ulysses at 2.5 added the ability to add writing on the iPhone. It makes a big difference to have all your writing available in one application when you do a lot of writing. With using Ulysses I no longer have to remember where I put it or do a search for something written. There is an inbox area in Ulysses which I use to add notes. I can always move one of these notes into a specific project at a later stage either on the Mac, the iPad or the iPhone.

When considering Ulysses vs Scrivener you’ll have to consider the user interface of the two applications. If you prefer working simply in an interface that gets out of the way, then Ulysses will be the one to choose. Scrivener gives you many more tools within the application and many more options for compiling your document when it’s completed. At the same time, when it comes down to the writing you can clear the decks and have a simple, straightforward writing environment. A distraction free writing environment dear to the hearts of many writers and authors.


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