Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Mimsy Were the Technocrats: As long as we keep talking about it, it’s technology.

Must-have iOS app: Editorial

Jerry Stratton, July 10, 2014

Another app that’s quickly entered the must-have realm for me is Editorial. It’s basically a Markdown editor, and it’s a good one. It is a universal app, working on both the iPad, for which it was designed, and the iPhone.

  1. The undo button is on the special keyboard bar on the iPad. Shake to undo works as well, but having it on the keyboard is easier to see.
  2. I’m typing this list in Editorial, and as I hit return to go to the next item, it automatically fills out the number for me—no mode switch required.
  3. It seems simple, but it apparently isn’t—iA Writer only received this functionality as I was writing this review—Editorial displays Markdown files with formatting. A quote is indented, emphasized text is emphasized, and so on.

One interesting feature—and one that’s very useful to TaskPaper users—is that it recognizes .taskpaper files and displays them as tasks with checkboxes that can be checked off. I store my task lists on Dropbox, and can then edit them both on my iMac (using TaskPaper) and on my iPad/iPhone (using Editorial). Only the iPad can currently easily check off tasks; however, the special bar of the onscreen keyboard changes to be appropriate for TaskPaper files, on both the iPad and the iPhone.

Using Editorial just as a Markdown editor, note editor, and TaskPaper editor on the iPhone and iPad is enough right there. The killer, though, is the workflow feature. Within the workflow editor are simple tasks that can be chained together to form a workflow; for example, I often look on Wikimedia Commons for related imagery; I can now select the text I’ll be searching for and hit a button in Editorial to search. The web page is brought up within Editorial making moving back and forth faster.

I have another workflow for blockquoting selected text. People use workflows for uploading posts to their blogs, tweeting selected text, and titleizing selected text.

Workflows can be organized by tagging them, and then filtering by tags, by tapping a button with that tag’s name.

Finally, workflows can include custom Python code, putting pretty much no limit on what you can do to your text in a workflow.

Editorial’s main drawback is the lack of a Mac version. For the moment, I use iA Writer (my previous go-to text editor on iPhone/iPad) to edit Editorial files on the iMac. But of course, that means the workflows don’t copy over. I already use ThisService to create Services tools, but I hate having to duplicate scripts, especially when they need to be almost but not quite the same—once for inside Editorial and once for outside of it.

Dropbox on Editorial

There are a few things that I miss from iA Writer:

  1. The lack of smart quotes, either automatic or from the special bar. The iA Writer special bar includes the single and double smart quotes, and chooses which to use from context.
  2. Automatic parentheses; The iA Writer bar also has parentheses which open and close in context. Editorial puts both in the document and then moves the carat between them. I prefer not to have a single character pushed off of what I’m typing.
  3. Lack of iCloud support. Editorial has the best Dropbox support I’ve seen in an app, but even on Editorial, Dropbox is still less reliable and more error-prone than iCloud is in iA Writer.

Since my girlfriend bought me a portable keyboard—the iWerkz foldable—for my birthday, the first two don’t matter quite as much, but they do still matter. I’m writing this using the software keyboard, for example, and having to switch mode then tap-hold to get the apostrophes in this sentence. That’s annoying.

As for iCloud, I’m assuming that it works more reliably because it’s built in to iOS, but the reason it works better doesn’t really matter, only that it does. Twice while writing this I have had to resolve a conflict, something that was rare when using iA Writer.

All that said, the live Markdown display was enough to switch to Editorial, and the workflows is enough to keep me using it.

Editorial workflow

This workflow takes the selected text or, if no text is selected, pops up a dialog, and searches Wikimedia for related images.

In response to Must-have iOS apps: Apps for the iPhone and iPad that make doing things incredibly easier.

  1. <- Inkpad for iPad
  2. ia Writer ->