Skip

iTextEditors
April 18, 2012 7:43 PM   Subscribe


 
I'm partial to iA Writer myself.
posted by Trurl at 7:45 PM on April 18, 2012


Today I learned that vim is available on iOS.
posted by jcreigh at 7:52 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Got a Macbook Air yesterday and after my first task of finding a decent terminal emulator, I have been on the lookout for a text editor. So I come here both interested and with some prior knowledge.

The chart leaves off Ultraedit, and a good thing too because it costs $59.95, that's ALMOST SIXTY DOLLARS for the love of all that's good and proper.

The chart also leaves off Sublime Text 2, a much better option.
posted by Jimbob at 7:56 PM on April 18, 2012


Oh, sorry, it's an iOS chart. My bad. Still, FIFTY NINE DOLLARS NINETY FIVE.
posted by Jimbob at 7:57 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only advantage to editing text on an iPad is that I can smash the screen against my face much more easily than with a laptop.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:03 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


First, someone needs to show me how to compile LaTEXeX on the iPad. Then I'll worry about text editing ?
posted by hoyland at 8:04 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


And learning how to type without looking like a confused francophone.
posted by hoyland at 8:05 PM on April 18, 2012


The chart should be fairly comprehensive. It was a public collaboration. I love the idea, but at the end of the day I want to know which on to buy. That shuts me the fuck down. Infinite Option Paralysis has arrived!

My needs: Fast, supports styles, supports text expander, easy to use, minimal cruft, iPad + iPhone + desktop app that can share the files. Less than $100 for desktop and iPad option.

So far I use Pages, Writeroom, dozens of dropbox enabled apps I hate, and generally my iOS devices are relegated to read only status and I use mail to send myself text.

I think they should have included Prompt. Seriously, emacs, pico, and vi are my second favorite iOS text editors (right after pretty much everything else). I am guessing you could use LaTEXeX as well.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:07 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Still, FIFTY NINE DOLLARS NINETY FIVE.

The price point is apparently God's will.
posted by Trurl at 8:10 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


What are people's suggestions for Android?
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:15 PM on April 18, 2012


Today I learned that vim is available on iOS.

But...but..but, NO ESCAPE KEY!

/me head explodes.
posted by eriko at 8:19 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


For the MacBook, I've been using TextWrangler a whole lot. I have some... issues... with v4.0, that someone coming into the program without prior experience may not. iTerm2 is pretty much the best terminal emulator ever coded.

I just came from a place that used UltraEdit on the PC, and paid big money for it, and a separate app, "Ultra Compare." They told us we could get fired for running Notepad++ (on our skanky HP notebooks running XP... in the year 2012) because, and I quote, "Who knows what bugs or back-doors might be in there!"

My response was, "EVERYONE who can read source code, that's who knows."

New gig lets me have a Mac. In addition to the aforementioned iTerm2 and TextWrangler, DevonNote is awesome in a way software hasn't been awesome for me in a long, long, long time.

I had a problem with a particularly odd routing setup for a Cisco ASA firewall. DevonNote has what is, essentially, a file manager where I could swap seamlessly between a text file with the configuration, bookmarks to three web sites with info on the issue (that I could access from within the program, instantly) a text document where I kept notes on what I was doing, and an RTF file where I was laying out the steps to formally document the process, including screen shots. On a tricky issue like this, I usually have two browser windows going, a bunch of terminals, a few TextEdit files, and shuffle awkwardly between them. With DevonNote, it was like the moment when Neo hangs up the phone and flies off into the sky...

I'm still feeling my way around my iPad - it's mostly just a web-browser appliance that also plays toddler-friendly games. Don't get me wrong, it's absolutely worth the money for that alone... it's just that I think I could be doing more with it. I'm not convinced editing plaintext is it. I don't use a lot of social media.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:21 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just bought iA Writer, but mostly so if it sucks I have something to hold against Trurl.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:23 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love the ipad, but typing on the screen for more than ten seconds makes me want to punch a baby. The only option for serious text entry is with a keyboard, at which point with the added hassle of carrying a second gadget you're better off with a laptop.
posted by mullingitover at 8:29 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Brett Terpstra is one of the internet's most useful people. Dude is a mad scientist. Marked alone justifies his entire existence, but he just keeps going. Plaintext nerdcore.

Anyway, I was predominantly a Nebulous guy but got tired of the bugs. Currently using and mostly loving Byword. Only one huge problem, which is that it hijacks your parenthesis keys. It assumes you want to close a paren after opening it, so typing a second left paren substitutes a closed, which makes nesting a pain. Otherwise it's beautiful.

The only option for serious text entry is with a keyboard, at which point with the added hassle of carrying a second gadget you're better off with a laptop.

Don't knock it 'til you've tried it. Even with a portable keyboard, you're still lighter and taking up less bag space than with any laptop bigger than a MacBook Air or netbook, and you've got a ten-hour battery and time-to-web in five seconds tops. Not to mention that you don't have to lug the whole apparatus out of your bag unless you need it.

I carry an iPad and an Apple keyboard with an Origami case every day and do not miss a laptop most of the time. I took that to a conference yesterday and left the laptop at home. The only regret I had with not bringing the laptop was that the Embassy Suites I was staying at didn't have wifi in the rooms. At a conference hotel. Ethernet only, so I had to tether off my phone.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:38 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also on the subject of: "...carrying a second gadget you're better off with a laptop."

I carry an ipad everywhere everyday. Sometimes I add a kb, sometimes I don't. Most of the time I don't need one but I can choose to add one into the mix if necessary. That's how it's better (for me) even if the weight and size of the tablet+kb is slightly more than, say, an 11" macbook air.

Currently I use Plaintext for notes and Textastic for things more codery. With an internet connection and a kb I will use vim via iSSH.
posted by mce at 8:54 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh god yes.
Pounded through a dozen, no a score (I exaggerate) of text editors. Using Daedalus at present but mostly because I got tired of looking.

I use an iPad + Adonit Writer Plus + Decalgirl skin set up, it's pretty sweet. It takes a half-second to eject the iPad from the case if I need to and another half second to slot it back in. The keyboard has some kind of sleep/ wake functionality, like the Smart Cover does to the iPad, so it only turns on when I flip the cover open. Ten hours of battery life! Instant-on! And reading novels on the 3rd-gen iPad is like having warm chocolate pudding massaged into my brain. I've not touched my netbook since I started using this setup.

The hardware side is great, but I still need a good software editor.
posted by WalterMitty at 8:57 PM on April 18, 2012


I use Notebooks as it does a good job with file organization as well as text entry. I'm always on the lookout for something better, though.

Other key kit: A Zaggmate case/keyboard, VGA cable to connect to a projector, Onlive Desktop Pro for full access to a Windows Desktop with Office and to run Flash-based demos and that one critical Intranet site I need that only works right in IE.

On an unrelated i-note for when you're done with work Rockstar has ported Max Payne to iOS, it's only $3, and they did a great job with the port. They even took the crying baby out of the flashback levels.
posted by Blue Meanie at 9:13 PM on April 18, 2012


Sure wish I had some bullet time to use when writing.
posted by WalterMitty at 9:17 PM on April 18, 2012


I have the ZAGGfolio 2 which looks nearly identical to the Adonit Writer Plus. It's a great keyboard and and case. Personally I use Elements which has a decent feature set (Markdown, nice dark color scheme, dropbox support) and is perfect for my main need of capturing ideas on the go.

For full "word processing" Pages ain't too shabby neither.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:18 PM on April 18, 2012


Fuck plaintext. Ink notes are the bees knees. Notetaker HD and Notes Plus are the two best on the iPad. Notes Plus has the new feature where you can have a webpage open in parallel with the ink area, slide open the webpage, take clips of it, paste it into your notebook and mark and highlight it...Its what every "in the future" computer video has promised for the last 20 years.

But markdown does sound pretty awesome. There are some Latex options around, but they all have to have the Tex compiled on an outside server as a I recall.
posted by Chekhovian at 9:38 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


As an Android user, I'm shocked by how few (read: virtually none) of those are free.
posted by schmod at 10:24 PM on April 18, 2012


As an Android user...

Better than not available at all, or available only in freetarded buggy featureless form. Since I switched from an iPhone to an android phone, Ive been able to find very few worthwhile applications. With iOS the hard part is finding the application that you like, hence this huge fucking chart. With android the hard part is finding any applications at all. And tablets live and die by their applications. My phone, relatively application free as it is, is at least a phone and Internet source. My iPad is useless without apps.

I will say this though, at least android allows you to "return" apps within some time of their purchase. I bought 5 different Ink applications before discovering that notetaker hd was the best andrest were trash. A waster of about 20 dollars. But then notetaker hd upgraded about 4 versions and became slow and bloated. Then notes plus updated and got hugely better.
posted by Chekhovian at 10:35 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


> As an Android user, I'm shocked by how few (read: virtually none) of those are free.

There are actually quite a few, including Vim:
Noc
Plaintext
Simplenote
WWrite
Write 2
Werdsmith
TextCrafter

I am sure each of those are on class with a good chunk of free text editors from the Android Marketplace as well.

The thing is, if you as a developer are going to set out to write Apps for iOS, you have to spend a minimum of time to exceed the quality of those free apps, for what benefit? To scratch an itch? But to build, compile, and install an app on your iOS device is going to cost you $99 a year for a dev license. Spending $3 on an app that someone already wrote that does exactly what you want makes much more sense, doesn't it?

Or if you are going to spend the time to make an app that functions way better than those other apps, what is your incentive? To just do that? Or maybe make money selling ad revenue through your ad? But why bother when the process to go through to get your ad setup for being Free on the iOS store is pretty much the same as selling it for $.99 ?
posted by mrzarquon at 11:05 PM on April 18, 2012


Hoyland: First, someone needs to show me how to compile LaTEXeX on the iPad.

Without a from-scratch rewrite, this isn't going to happen. At all. The speed, bloat, and complexity cannot be solved with the current uneasy mix of C, WEB, and Bash. If translating the code to C and refactoring/commenting was practical it would leave a 4GB distribution.
posted by thebestsophist at 2:23 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know much about LaTeX, but I have been using Byword for a while now and noticed that they have an option to export to LaTeX if that helps...
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 2:43 AM on April 19, 2012


Oh, I know LaTeX on the iPad is a pipe dream, particularly as in the roughly 10 years I've been using it, the distributions have become stupidly large as space and connection speed have become essentially a nonissue.

I'm sure there's a solution that would half satisfy me, but I'm destined to be a lousy iOS user, as it has been so long since I've used software that isn't free that I can't quite get myself to pay for, say,ma decent SSH app.
posted by hoyland at 3:30 AM on April 19, 2012


I can't quite get myself to pay for, say,ma decent SSH app.
I have almost no use for an SSH client on my iPhone, but I've heard great things about Prompt. Have you tried it?* Panic usually makes pretty awesome software, so they'd be the ones I trust.

*I ask mostly so I can say "a person I spoke to online, looking for a decent SSH app for iOS tried this and said it was (insert 'great' or 'complete crap' here)" should this kind of conversation arise again.
posted by revmitcz at 4:33 AM on April 19, 2012


What the hell is wrong with you people? Paying for things is not some great evil. $60 for an editor to use on your $1000+ computer? That's a goddamn steal.

Also, paying is a really good way to have nice things. And to ensure the continued production of nice things. If vi and emacs make you happy, great. But be happy with them, don't press your nose to the window of the shop going "I really want the other nice things instead, but I refuse to enter this store and obtain them!"

BTW: The dearth of nice things on Android is directly linked to the numbers of shell-shocked users roaming the stores going "pay!? for software!?"
posted by fightorflight at 4:42 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also:

The chart leaves off Ultraedit, and a good thing too because it costs $59.95, that's ALMOST SIXTY DOLLARS for the love of all that's good and proper. ... The chart also leaves off Sublime Text 2, a much better option.

1. This chart is for iOS editors.
2. Sublime Text 2 costs $59.95, that's ALMOST SIXTY DOLLARS.
posted by fightorflight at 4:44 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I happily use PlainText (free), which syncs with Dropbox.
posted by exogenous at 5:10 AM on April 19, 2012


If you spell your app Werdsmith I don't care if it's free. I'm not touching it.
posted by Splunge at 5:43 AM on April 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've happily paid $100 for a text editor - BBEdit, before they came out with TextWrangler (this was in the pre-Mac OS X days.) I just paid $25 for DevonNote on my home box after evaluating some of the free alternatives out there, and it's just a glorified Scrapbook clone.

The issue isn't that UltraEdit is $60. The issue is that it's also terrible. TextWrangler and Notepad++ jump up and down on it with golf shoes, and they're free. If there's quality freeware out there, you really need to step up your game.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:48 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


IMO "Text Editor" means something that can edit pure plain text (ASCII or UTF-8), not something can do HTML or something with style sheets or whatever.
What are people's suggestions for Android?
I installed this app that's just called Text Edit. One of the nice things about android is that it has a 'normal' filesystem. It lets me edit plain text files and save them on the SD card.

I also got this thing which actually lets you access Android's Linux terminal. When you install it actually installs a set of GNU utils, and actually includes vi. So you can run vi on android - not as an 'app' but the actual Unix program running as an ordinary Linux process on the same kernel that runs the rest of the OS.

That said, I don't really ever use my phone for text editing, and it has a physical keyboard. I can't imagine wanting doing a lot of writing on a tablet.

Also, it's apparently possible possible to run LaTeX on a rooted Android device by installing Debian in a chroot folder and then running LaTeX from there.
posted by delmoi at 6:07 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I feel like this is just some massive joint procrastination exercise by writers who should be writing.

Heck, some of these editors probably exist because some writer got annoyed at his writing app and decided that the easiest way to fix that would be to ***learn to program and code his own***.
posted by smackfu at 6:16 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


My favorite text editor is missing: Birdhouse!

But seriously, I use Birdhouse and Writeroom on my space phone all the time.
posted by vkxmai at 6:27 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


[This does not have to become an insufferable Apple vs Android discussion unless you make it one. Don't make it one. Go to MetaTalk and have it out once and for all, or just leave it alone from this point forward. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 6:40 AM on April 19, 2012


The iOS app for SSH called Prompt has a special strip of keys that are useful in a terminal sessions (like the slash), and I think this feature would make use of vi(m) nicer.

Of course, this presupposes that you are logged into a remote system to do your writing, and doesn't solve the problem of just, you know, typing. (For that, I got an external keyboard.)

On my MacBook, I have used BBEdit since, oh, I think 1994. (I still have the temporary tattoo and "It Doesn't Suck" t-shirts that they gave away to people who put a badge on your ancient, pre-<tables> web page.) Before that, though, I used a tcl-based editor called Alpha on my Macs because it was the only thing I could find that would open the huuuuge EPS and PostScript files we got at the prepress shop where I worked…and it also offered a HTML mode.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:49 AM on April 19, 2012


As an Android user, I'm shocked by how few (read: virtually none) of those are free.

There are the usual metrics about how iOS users are far more willing to download paid software than Android users, which probably accounts for the differences in the two markets. I think that partly comes from the culture of Mac power users (who don't generally balk at paying for tools) and partly the general skeeviness of free apps harvesting and sending user data to god knows who (which the Apple-centric technology blogs make a lot of noise about). On the other side, power users who use Android are probably used to relying heavily on FOSS tools and grit their teeth at the thought of dropping fifty bucks on a text editor, as above.

That required a real mental shift for me when I finally left Windows for good. There is quite a bit less free software out there for OS X than for Windows/Linux, just like iOS vs. Android.
At first I didn't care for it, but years of seeing how much support and regard users of "free" online services get convinced me that, FOSS-faithful developers excepted, there isn't anyone out there working for free, certainly not in mobile app stores. Plus, a developer busts his or her ass making you a beautiful and useful piece of software, the least you can do is scrounge up five measly bucks for him/her.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:04 AM on April 19, 2012


My favorite text editor is missing: Birdhouse!

Yeah, too bad it's starting to break and has been completely abandoned by it's makers. But the list of great iOS writing apps is so long and getting longer every day (partly because iOS users don't balk at paying a buck or so for an app) that I guess it doesn't matter.

And what is all this talk of Mac writing apps? Did people not read the link or simply don't understand the difference between iOS and OS X?
posted by justgary at 7:35 AM on April 19, 2012


I've happily paid $100 for a text editor - BBEdit, before they came out with TextWrangler

Still going strong on its 20th anniversary, btw.
posted by Trurl at 7:36 AM on April 19, 2012


Don't knock it 'til you've tried it. Even with a portable keyboard, you're still lighter and taking up less bag space than with any laptop bigger than a MacBook Air or netbook, and you've got a ten-hour battery and time-to-web in five seconds tops. Not to mention that you don't have to lug the whole apparatus out of your bag unless you need it.

Eh, I disagree. Each to his own of course, but if I'm writing a lot, an 11 inch macbook air kicks any iPad set up in the ass. Unless I'm camping and have no access to electricity and need to write for 10 hours. Then I guess I go with the iPad.
posted by justgary at 7:39 AM on April 19, 2012


At first I didn't care for it, but years of seeing how much support and regard users of "free" online services get convinced me that, FOSS-faithful developers excepted, there isn't anyone out there working for free, certainly not in mobile app stores. Plus, a developer busts his or her ass making you a beautiful and useful piece of software, the least you can do is scrounge up five measly bucks for him/her.

I pay for good apps, because I think skilled developers who take the time to create useful, beautiful and joyful tools deserve compensation. That value judgement is really all it boils down to. And I write that as a developer of open source software who uses FOSS tools like emacs and gcc to do development work on a daily basis. Some things in this life are worth paying for, and I feel lucky to live in a society where there are choices.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:45 AM on April 19, 2012


Eh, I disagree. Each to his own of course, but if I'm writing a lot, an 11 inch macbook air kicks any iPad set up in the ass.

Yeah, like I said, Air excepted. If I had one I'd probably reach for it more. My four-year-old MBP and the vast majority of laptops are a different animal, IMO. The additional weight and other trade-offs of a full-sized laptop usually aren't worth it to me.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:58 AM on April 19, 2012


Don't make it one.

Did I miss a bunch of GRAR that got deleted or was that preemptive? Man I hate sleeping through those things and missing them before they go down the memory hole.
posted by Chekhovian at 8:58 AM on April 19, 2012


> I have almost no use for an SSH client on my iPhone, but I've heard great things about Prompt. Have you tried it?* Panic usually makes pretty awesome software, so they'd be the ones I trust.

I use Prompt semi-infrequently, but I am glad I have it on my phone at times when I need it. Like the other day when the entire campus network shit itself, but I was able to ssh over 3G to one of our unix servers and hop onto our campus irc support channel to check on the outage status.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:38 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Regarding LaTeX on the iPad: yes, native LaTeX is pipedream, but for those moments when you're absolutely desperate for tex-on-the-go, scribtex.com will allow you to edit, version, compile, and view LaTeX from the comfort of your browser. It's smart enough to handle \input{}, so no need to mash everything into one giant file for its sake (certain journals, I'm lookin' at you). The transparent-to-the-novice versioning makes it DEAD EASY to collaborate with people who would otherwise want to send edits back and forth using google docs / email / 5.25" floppies, and a paid account gets you access to the git repo under the hood.

For everything else: Prompt -> ssh -> screen -> vim/mutt/tex/lynx/whetever. The esc key built into Prompt is about where your fingers would expect it (I find that I can type naturally at decent speeds); OTOH, the ctrl is NOT where your fingers remember, which may cause you to absentmindedly start typing xmodmap.... Anyway, screen! Screen is absolutely key. With Prompt, screen, and a big dose of dorkiness, you'll have no need for anything else on your iPad.

(Well, except iAnnotate. But srsly: I installed Rstudio server to talk to from my iPad, and I never touch it b/c having a named screen session for each project with vi/R/git/&c windows is faster, easier, more secure, doesn't enforce one-R-process-per-project or one-connection-at-a-time, and you can check up on it from an itsy-bitsy phone. Likewise VNC, ...)
posted by Westringia F. at 11:25 AM on April 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


« Older What makes you sad?   |   They ALL Listen to The Smiths. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post