My search for the holy grail of text editors, the one app to rule them all, seems to be never-ending. The trouble is that I may be expecting too much from one piece of software—I want an attractive distraction-free editor with enough functionality to write blog posts and novels but also with the flexibility to be used as a content management system. For a while, I thought Scrivener might be the answer but I was never entirely happy with it and in the end the awful sync system was the deal-breaker (you have to close a project on one device before opening it on another, which is way too clunky when you look at how seamless the likes of OneNote and Evernote sync across multiple devices).
I liked OneNote but the format it uses to store notes doesn’t seem very friendly and even copying and pasting from Word doesn’t always work how you’d expect. I long hated Word anyway for the masses of hidden junk it wraps around your text. That is why I embraced markdown and made Ulysses my editor of choice for writing. Unfortunately, Ulysses isn’t comfortable with images and so doesn’t make a great content management system. So I paired it with Evernote and had an acceptable system. I can write my novels and blog posts in Ulysses and use Evernote for research notes, keeping track of publication info, ideas, etc. The two work pretty well together.
Except, I don’t really like Evernote. Never have. So I kept looking for an alternative. Then I saw a few people on Twitter making a fuss about Bear. Bear is like the love-child of Evernote and Ulysses. It is a better notes editor than Evernote, using markdown and thus being copy-and-paste friendly with Ulysses. It’s use of tags is similar to Evernote but implemented in a friendlier way and with the killer feature of tag-nesting to allow hierarchical nesting. It is a pleasant environment to write in and I am finding myself composing blog posts within Bear instead of Ulysses. Bear can’t replace Ulysses for novel-writing for me because of some of the wonderful features Ulysses offers for long-form writing, but it certainly can replace Evernote as my notes and data app, and it has. One drawback is the lack of a Windows version, but I can live with that since I mostly use Mac and iOS these days and it syncs seamlessly between iPhone, iPad and Mac. That’s me happy then. Well, for a while at least. I doubt I’ll ever stop looking for that perfect app that does everything I want the way I want. I’ve turned to Eagle for keeping track of my images and along with Bear and Ulysses this trio forms the backbone of my working environment and so far they are keeping me content with my content.