PlainText Released for the iOS

As some of you may be aware, Jesse Grosjean over at Hog Bay Software has been working on a framework upon which to build the next versions of WriteRoom and TaskPaper mobile. PlainText is a free application that will integrated Dropbox file and folder navigation with a slick looking text editor. While there is no shortage of text editors for the iPad these days, the thing that sets this one apart, in my mind, is that it can use Dropbox as its native storage area. This means you can avoid the import/export routine that exists in many apps, and any edits you make with it will be immediately available to all of your devices hooked up to Dropbox. There is one other app that does this that I know of, iA Writer, but as posted in another thread, the main drawback with that app at the moment is that it cannot browse folders, which for Scrivener users, will be important.

You may also be aware that Scrivener 2.0 will have a feature that makes working on a shared folder like Dropbox quite painless. You’ll be able to export text files (as well as RTF and FDX) to a folder, edit them with other software and platforms, and then sync those changes back into the original project without having to worry about reintegrating your Binder or any of the steps you’ve had to take in the past.

PlainText, along with Simplenote, should make great companions for working on your projects while on the road, especially since both are free.

I had a little trouble finding it (no reference to it on Jesse’s homepage), so for those that want to read more about it, click here.

I’m loving PlainText.

I’ve already put in a feature request: Sort documents by recency, newest first, which is how I prefer to organize documents.

Spoken like a true member of this forum. =-)

For those who are very frugal–and you know who you are–PlainText has been released under an advertising model. Downloads will be free from the iTunes store, allowing you to try forever without buying as long as you don’t mind an occasional ad. An in-app purchase of $4.95 will give you the ad-free version and if you’re running iOS 3 on your iPhone/touch, there are no ads at all. There’s a discussion about the upgrade at Hog Bay’s blog: … -available

Keep in mind that the combination of plain text editing via Dropbox with a folder-aware app is very nice. You can store different projects in different folders and access what you want in a flash–no more long scrolling lists on tiny screens. And you can edit those same plain text files on Macs or Windows machines with whatever application you like and without all the hassle of syncing via USB drives or whatever. Dropbox takes carry of the synching and even saves what would otherwise be lost if there is a synching conflict.

I liked PlainText so much, I immediately upgraded to say thanks to the developer. Since I use TaskPaper for jotting down ideas, I’ll be even more delighted when these same Dropbox/folder changes are rolled over into it.

Finally, those who’ve wanted an iPad version of Scrivener may find the iPad version of PlainText a useful consolation prize. It’s got a beautiful interface and the folder interface should make it quite easy to synch chapters and scenes for multiple projects between an iPad and your Mac without confusion, even if that synching has to be manually triggered.

Here’s a link to a movie that shows what PlainText looks like on an iPad. An iPhone’s smaller screen means its UI is slightly different.

I’ll probably keep my current division of labor between apps with one new addition:

  • Apple’s Notes app will continue to be for facts that don’t change often like clothing sizes or lists of the Tolkien books I have, so I know what to buy at used book stores.

  • TaskPaper will still be for jotting down ideas on the go because I like the way it breaks ideas into bulleted lists. Having folders for different projects will make it even better for that.

  • SimpleNote will remain the catch all application for taking down notes that fit nowhere else. Its chief advantage is that it can be accessed through a web page as well as apps.

  • Finally, PlainText will take on the new task that Scrivener 2.0 will create. It will be where I review and edit Scrivener files on the go. And if I ever get an iPad, the transition will be easy.

–Michael W. Perry, author of Untangling Tolkien

Wow, an impressive application. Its elegant look made me rethink some work I’m doing.

Is there a similar product that works with Apple’s iDisk? I’m already paying for the web space, calendar, email settings, and other isync capabilities, and I use iDisk for Scrivener backups, so I’d rather just stick with what I have and not bother to create my 1001st free web service account.

“Notebooks” by Alfons Schmidt works with iDisk (as well as DropBox). Its latest version has a full screen view for undistracted writing.

As elegant as PlainText is (and as much as I love all the other apps by Jesse Grosjean) I do prefer Notebooks, even though I find its UI not very beautiful. My work is often journalistic so I need to have many files and images close by. In fact, you can throw pretty much everything into Notebooks.

To confirm:
S2.0 to iDisk to Notebooks and back again will work on the iPhone and iPad?

Theoretically that should work. I have no iDisk to test it with, but Scrivener’s folder sync method uses simple folders and files to accomplish everything necessary, so any Internet storage that can handle folders and files (which iDisk of course can), and any mobile application that can browse those folders and files and save the files back in the same position they were originally located in should work.

Bit of an update, but there might be an alternative method in the works that does not require folders. It will probably be less intuitive to use, but should open up the playing field to applications that can browser files but not folders, such as iA Writer and Elements.

Eh, no guarantee on that last one. That was just me thinking aloud internally. :slight_smile:

That’ll teach me to skim.

I have added bold formatting to the word ‘might’! Ha. :blush:

Anyone try S2 to Notebooks via iDisk yet?

I have saved S2 projects to iDisk, but always as a ZIP file.
It takes a while but works fine. This was a fairly large project, 121 mb.

Well, I bit the whopping $6 price tag for Notebooks and gave it a whirl. It works wonderfully. Syncing S2 with Notebooks via iDisk works beautifully.

The file structure ends up more convoluted with an extra layer or so, but that’s a minor issue for having my writing synced and with me on hikes and outings sans laptop. Thanks you, Keith!