iA Writer 4 – Why use it?

I use iA Writer for almost all writing. Three reasons:

  1. iA Writer feels right. This is the most important point. I like the interface, the font, the simplicity.
  2. iA Writer works with raw text files. This lets me process files with Marked 2 or any other Markdown editor. It’s especially important if you run a blog with Jekyll or some other blog engine that converts Markdown to HTML itself.
  3. Auto-saves all files in its library, so nothing is lost. Although sometimes my files get a bit unorganized.

I rarely use the Syntax View, although it’s helpful to see nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives at a glance.

New in iA Writer 4: Text Embeds

iA Writer 4 adds a new feature: Text and image embedding. They call it transclusion. These are probably nice features, but the downside is, they’re not standard Markdown. Not yet, at least. The guys behind iA proposed a spec for Content Blocks.

Until then, your favorite blog engine won’t be able to do anything with the Content Blocks. You need to export from iA Writer first.

But still, I’m excited. I might write my next eBook in iA Writer.

Downsides of iA Writer

Update 13.12.2016: Table of Contents is possible with {{TOC}}. Markdown Extra isn’t necessary, because iA Writer supports MultiMarkdown. You can define header ids like so:

## I'm a subheadline [sub]

So, for me, there are almost no downsides anymore and I can remove Marked 2 from my workflow.

No Table of Contents. For longer articles, I need a Table of Contents. I don’t see why I should manually create this, when software can do it. Thus, I use Marked 2 to open the Markdown files and export them.

No Markdown Extra. I like Special Attributes in Markdown Extra, because they let me create custom slugs for subheadlines like so:

## I'm a nice sub-headline {#sub-slug}

Short Comparison of iA Writer 4 to Ulysses III

I used Ulysses III to write an eBook, mostly for its ability to organize files and its ePub export. While some people swear by Ulysses and think it’s the perfect writing environment, I still prefer iA writer for single articles.

The biggest downside of Ulysses III is its proprietary file format. Ulysses creates .ulysses files, which are a ZIP file with the raw text plus an XML with meta data.

Ulysses’ Markdown capabilities aren’t compatible. It uses a Markdown-like syntax, but good luck when you want to export any of that.

By contrast, you can point iA Writer to a folder in your blog engine, on Dropbox or whereever and work directly with the Markdown files and let the blog engine render everything. With Ulysses, this isn’t possible. You must export articles before using them somewhere else.

But really, give both editors a try. They feel different and that is all that matters when you write.

Naturally, this article was written in iA Writer 4 and exported quickly via Edit → Copy as HTML → Paste in WordPress in Text View.