Ulysses 1.6

Interesting … Blue-Tec has released a Scrivener-priced limited version of Ulysses, “Ulysses Core”. I admire Blue-Tec’s design ethic, and I value the ability to export text files in Windows format, but I’m not sure that I’m persuaded to switch. It’s interesting to tinker with another paradigm, though. Blue-Tec has been an important innovator. I wonder if the Scrivener of today would exist without Ulysses?

[edit] Not Scrivener-priced, in fact - I missed that the figure was in Euros, which still makes Ulysses core substantially more. Odd pricing policy - isn’t a Euro in the hand better than having the would-be user wander off and finding Scrivener?

A comparison between both versions can be found here (the link on the blu-tec website has a typo)

In fact I do like Ulysses very much - if only for its localization (and no, I won’t nag again, Keith :smiling_imp: ) and it’s still pretty fast on an old ibook g3.
If somebody owns one of those ancient machines, give it a try.

Harrrrummmmph! Who are you calling “old” and “ancient”?!?!?! My iBook G3 is absolutely lovely, thank you very much, and I have no desire whatsoever to replace it (at least, not for a very long time to come)! :slight_smile:

Erh…em…well, you know… I do have one of those myself, somewhere in the (i)bookshelf.

No offense meant.


Friends again?!?

I still don’t get the philosophy behind Ulysses. It doesn’t seem to be the right app for me… Congratulations the blue-tec group, but I still love Scrivener.

Read this arrogant blog post: travelog.blue-tec.com/?p=38

I don’t think that’s particularly arrogant. His attitude strikes me as quite similar to Keith’s with Scrivener - you can suggest and ask for features as much as you want, but Keith will only implement those he thinks fit with his vision of the app, and he makes no guarantees as to when (if ever) such updates might happen. You buy the app for what it can do right now, not what it might become.

All good software developers follow the same philosophy, and we’re blessed that many of them - Panic, Delicious, Red Sweater, Rogue Amoeba and more - are on the Mac.

Well, I just read that one and I do wonder where the arrogance went you mentioned. It sounds more like he is pissed, but then I can see his point clearly.

Same attitude, different thing: Whenever I complete a new chapter, I give it out to some of my friends, hoping for some comments. Some want some changes, and I will consider them - or not, depends on the mood I am in. But, in the end, the decision what changes I will write into the story is mine, and mine alone. And mostly I’m not into discussing what changes went not into the the story and why.

And if you ever read the Scriverner Wish List, you’ll find Keith is doing the same thing… more diplomatically, perhaps, but like Kant did say once: It’s all about the intention.

No offense meant.

I think I should have explain what I meant. I totally agree with the way they develop Ulysses. I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear. It’s just that I don’t like how he talks about it.

Maybe it’s just me… I’m sorry, I don’t want to upset anybody.

Nothing to be sorry about - as I wrote earlier, I really think he IS pissed … so, you did perceive his post as arrogance and I as being pissed off.

But then, he is german, and we get pissed off by almost everything :wink:

That’s simply not true!

Now, you got me pissed off.

Franz :wink:

Stop making my point, or else…

Uh, got carried away, there.

Ja, servus. Noch jemand von “near Munich” (ist mir gar nicht aufgefallen, oder ist die Angabe neu?)

Herzliche Grüße aus Hohenschäftlarn.

I have taken a look at Ulysses, and I have to admit I don’t get it. Why the focus on using symbols in the text to create formatting? That’s kind of wiki-like, right? Is there an advantage to this approach?

What else in Ulysses makes it unique or different? Or, more aptly, what about it would make someone choose it as their primary composition tool?



I can honestly say, “Yes, it would.” Would it have been the same as it is today? No, definitely not. Ulysses had an influence on Scrivener - I wrote a lengthy blog post about this some time ago but am feeling too ill right now to look it up. But basically, writer’s project management tools have been around on Windows for a while - NewNovelist, RoughDraft, WriteItNow and suchlike - and I tried them all. None fitted what I wanted. So I designed my own app on paper (rather mawkishly called “BookTree” - yeah, grow your book, bleugh). When I moved to the Mac, Ulysses was one of the first things I downloaded and it blew me away. Except I’m a rich text guy. And I like hierarchical folders. And I wanted an outliner… Etc. But the three pane interface of Ulysses, its full screen mode and its notes, labels and status systems were things I liked so much that I wanted them in my own app, so Ulysses is definitely a big influence.

And I hope they continue to go strong, as from my own personal experience they are very nice - and helpful - guys. As a user I sometimes didn’t understand their rather protective stance towards Ulysses and certain user demands… Until I started developing Scrivener and found myself in the same situation on occasion. So, I do understand their frustration. Honestly, I have had users tell my that Scrivener is stupid and ridiculous just because it didn’t do one particular thing that they thought it should do. I have even had a couple of personal insults. So it goes.

A few years ago, Ulysses was very unique and different on the Mac. It’s only that upstarts such as myself have come along and do something similar albeit in a different way. But Ulysses is most certainly still unique. There are a number of prose (and poetry and anything else for that matter) writers who much prefer to write in plain text because they just don’t trust rich text. (Often they seem to think that you might not be able to open an RTF file in 20 years whereas you will “always” be able to open plain text. Hmm, unless we run out of fuel and our computers become desk ornaments, of course… But often users just don’t like rich text very much, too, or are used to using plain text for their publishers or LaTeX or whatever.) Ulysses is probably the only tool out there that really caters to this user group - and they say themselves that it is a small group, but Ulysses is what the developers wanted and they have always been very focussed. Personally, as a developer I have a lot of respect for the Blue-Tec guys and the way they approach updates. I think it’s an admirable model. Sadly, I have a sneaking suspicion they don’t hold me in quite such high regard…

Eek. I do think that may be me. I hope not, though, as I don’t really think it describes my approach to Scrivener at all…

Anyway, I hope Ulysses continues to go strong. Whatever they may or may not think of Scrivener, Ulysses is a fantastic OS X app and deserves all of the lavish praise it has always and still does receive.

All the best,

I don’t think that’s you. It’s all about the “demanders’ attitude”, and the way these demanders tend to hail to those who implement every line on everybody’s wishlist.

It’s ironic, see? User A says “implement this, your app is bull without it, I’m a customer, you need to do what I tell you”. However, if the developer would listen to User A just for the fact that he’s a customer, the developer would have to implement every idea by every customer. The outcome would be similar to an application without any primary conceptual stage, and as we all know would not meet ANY customer’s demands.


As for “pissed” or “arrogant”: We took quite a lot of beating during the past couple of years, with users of other folks’ software invading every thread on every forum or blog talking Ulysses down to start with. We never changed our way, because we strongly belived that it would mean betrayal to those users who actually liked what we’re offering. We’re five years in and didn’t release a single update anybody had to pay for. Five years, and people keep rushing in, calling names, trying to force us out of business. People who just don’t like our application. I mean… we’re not doing anything illegal, we’re not forcing anybody, we ain’t even responsible for that all-time-weakness of the US Dollar. All this bashing can get to you, and it’s quite a wonder we’re still around. If arrogance is what it takes to get through this, so be it.

All the best

I am one of those who left Ulysses for Scrivener, simply because it addressed all my requirements as a writer of fiction. My frustration with Ulysses was that it seemed developer-led, not writer-led. I became increasingly frustrated at the inability to organise my files as I wanted, and I’m not sure this is addressed in 1.6.

Scrivener is designed by a writer, that much you can tell.


Hi Marcus,

Thanks for your post. I e-mailed Max a long-ish message earlier to ensure there were no bad feelings in case he was referring to me. :slight_smile: I’m really sorry you’ve experienced some bashing from users of other apps, especially if anyone has used Scrivener to bash Ulysses. (On the other hand, I’ve never seen a bad review of Ulysses, which says something.) There is certainly a minority of would-be-users who will try to tell you what you need to put in your app and who don’t like “no” as an answer, who will argue and get frustrated and even slightly aggressive. (I had one tell me I had a s**t name because I didn’t like his ideas and replied in a tone similar to the one he took with me.) I’ve been lucky so far in that most users aren’t like this, and I’m slowly getting better at not taking it personally… Except that it’s hard not to take it personally, like you say, because of the amount of work and energy you put into creating something you believe in. (I think zikade got it right in comparing it to having your novel or story criticised by others. It’s painful; it hurts.) I’ve always found it curious how, as a general rule, shareware seems to be thought of as being open to user-driven features whereas no one (sane) would dream of trying to e-mail Microsoft or Adobe to tell them what to put in Word or Photoshop. I feel sure - in fact I know from seeing your forums that this must be true - that you must feel the same as me in that user suggestions are great as they give you something to think about and evaluate, putting your app in a new light. You might decide the feature doesn’t fit, or it might show you how you could make something different but related clearer or better. The trouble is when someone starts arguing and telling you that you are being stupid because you won’t implement their suggestion.

As for my following comment, please bear in mind that I’m an ignorant Brit with only one language: The comments about “arrogant” and so forth - I wonder if this is a German/English-speaking issue? I used to hang out on a forum whose user-base was equally split between German and English-speakers; I also had a couple of good German friends. It took me a while to realise that sometimes German translated into English could sound very matter-of-fact to the point of seeming abrupt. So it may just be a misinterpretation on the part of English speakers. Maybe. Of course, I may be wrong and it may just have been that my friends and those other forum users just thought I was an idiot. :slight_smile:

Anyway. I just downloaded Ulysses 1.6, and it looks beautiful - good job. I hope you guys don’t feel too beaten down; I hope it’s just a side-effect of having worked your asses off recently to get this release out. And congratulations on the five years! I hope it becomes ten and twenty and more (though let’s not wish our lives away…). I said this to Max via e-mail, but I’ll say it again publicly here: I think your update model is admirable and I try to follow something similar myself. Not charging too soon for updates (five years, crikey!), keeping the version numbers to small point updates, and focussing on stability and refinement rather than on whizz-bang new features - I think these things make an application stand out. (I think the DevonThink guys are very good on this, too, as an aside.) Don’t let a few would-be-users who don’t “get” Ulysses upset you. I can only say from my own perspective that when I was nagging you about italics or structured folders, my persistence at the time was only because I was so enamoured of Ulysses, I so wanted it to work for me, that I was over-zealous. I wanted Ulysses be for me… But it wasn’t. (As you pointed out at the time - and I have used this phrase since to users asking for mindmaps or timelines in Scrivener - asking for such features was like asking Adobe for, say, an MP3 editor in PhotoShop.) So it may just be that the users having a go are only doing so because they want Ulysses to be for them, when you have always honestly declared - as is quite right of any honest developer talking about their app - that it cannot be for everybody.

That was longer than I meant it to be, so apologies for waffling on. I don’t think any Scrivener user who has visited the forums will be any doubt about how much I like Ulysses or about the influence it has had on Scrivener, so I’ll just say congrats again on 1.6 and the five year anniversary.

All the best,

P.S. Tripper - actually I think both Marcus and Max are writers too. I believe that they came to develop Ulysses in much the way I came to develop Scrivener - to address their own needs as writers. Todd Ransom did the same with Avenir/StoryMill. I think the fact that they all take different approaches shows how many different approaches to writing there are. I know for a fact that StoryMill users - and probably Ulysses users too - have criticised Scrivener for not being writer-friendly!

Maybe, though in my case I really doubt it. :wink:

Thanks for the congrats and kind words and all. Really appreciated.
Have fun.

Oh no, don’t tell me you’re not German - now I’m going to have to pull both feet out of my mouth (and not for the first time)… :blush: