Ulysses Updates

This month Ulysses issued a major update which takes advantage of a number of features included in the iOS 11 release. The one that caught my eye first was the image previews. When you add an image as its own paragraph, you will see it as a black and white thumbnail. Images within a text paragraph will still appear as the standard IMG-bubble. This lets you see what the images look like without distracting users from the text. Yes, text is king in Ulysses.

The new drag and drop feature allows you to pull in images, attachments, text and sheets. Along with that, you can now quickly move paragraphs up or down within a sheet. Place the cursor anywhere within the paragraph then use control-command-up arrow or control-command-down arrow to move the entire paragraph to a new spot.

Ulysses is now a subscription-based platform. The apps – both on the Mac and on your iOS devices – are all free downloads, but you will need a subscription to unlock all your apps on your devices. That’s one subscription, not one for each app. There is a 14-day free trial available to see if Ulysses is for you. The US subscription is $4.99/month or $39.99/year.

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This article was written in Ulysses and posted here using Ulysses’s publishing tool. What you see here is the article as it appears in the Ulysses app.

 

Ulysses for Family History

If you are waiting until your research is done before you begin writing your family history, I’ve got news for you. Your research is never done! Do you find the idea of writing “THE FAMILY HISTORY” so intimidating that you just can’t get started? Me too. Fortunately I discovered blogging and started writing “little” stories about the people, places and things I already knew about along with those I discovered in my research. It didn’t take long before I had quite a collection. I needed a way to organize them and repurpose them into family history publishing projects. Continue reading “Ulysses for Family History”

Moving to Ulysses Made Easy

Moving to Ulysses Made Easy

I had been slowly moving writing projects from Scrivener to Ulysses using the always tedious copy/paste option. Fortunately, the latest version of Ulysses for Mac includes a quick and easy way to move an entire project in minutes. Here’s how … Scrivener Export Open the Scrivener project you wish to export and select the Draft (renamed to the project title in this example) item in the Binder.…

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Moving to Ulysses Made Easy

I had been slowly moving writing projects from Scrivener to Ulysses using the always tedious copy/paste option. Fortunately, the latest version of Ulysses for Mac includes a quick and easy way to move an entire project in minutes. Here’s how . . .

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Scrivener Export

Open the Scrivener project you wish to export and select the Draft (renamed to the project title in this example) item in the Binder. This will capture the entire manuscript. Now choose the File > Export >Files option to display the options sheet you see here. Choose the filename and directory for the exported file then select the Rich Text With Attachments (.rtfd) option. I only want the manuscript exported so I unchecked all export options. When you’re ready, click Export.

Now all I have to do is drag the exported file into Ulysses for Mac. It will create a group for the manuscript and add each text item as a sheet. My images moved with the texts too. I did have to clean up the titles of each sheet. They were brought into Ulysses as bold text so I am changing them to the appropriate level heading as I review and edit the manuscript.

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The imported project in Ulysses

Start a Writing Project with Ulysses

Ulysses [Mac – $49.99, iOS – $19.99] is an impressive writing platform yet quite easy to master. Instead of creating individual files for each story element, it creates a library package for your writing projects – much like the library used to manage photos in iPhotos. When a project package is saved in iCloud and you have the companion iPad app, you can easily write just about anywhere.

Another thing Ulysses does to keep you focused on writing is reduce your formatting options to a minimum. Sure you can assign text as headings, include block quotes, images, bulleted or numbered lists and citations, but you aren’t concerned with font choices or pages sizes – things that distract you from writing. Those are dealt with when you export your finished project to the format (or formats) you choose.

The project setup is really quite simple. Content is organized into groups and sheets – the library equivalent of folders and files. Ulysses supports groups and sub-groups and gives you the ability to reorganize them any time you wish.

The example above shows my Future of Memories project – currently displaying all three panels as they appear on my iPad. At the left is the library panel showing the groups and sub-groups I currently have in this project. There are two major sub-groups: Research and Manuscript. The Research group contains sub-groups for my notes and reminders of the things I need to do. What you see now is the early stages of the project. Before this manuscript is ready for export, I imagine both the Research and Manuscript groups will look quite different.

The center panel displays the sheets contained in the selected group – Front Matter in this example. It gives you a preview of each sheet’s content. At the far right is the editing panel displaying the sheet selected in the Sheets panel. All I have to do is swipe left to push the Groups and Sheets panels off the screen so I can focus on writing.

Here I have the editor panel filling my iPad’s screen. Note the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. In this example, I am using an external keyboard so the toolbar appears at the bottom of the screen. If I was using the on-screen keyboard, the toolbar would “sit” just above it. Notice that Ulysses is using Markdown for formatting. You have the option to use the toolbar to insert these commands or type them yourself. I find it easier to type the hashtags for headers or asterisks for bold/italics so I don’t have to take my hands off the keyboard. Ulysses gives me the option to work the way I find most comfortable.

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Did you notice the Edit option at the bottom of the group panel in the figure at the top of this article? Tap it and a column of drag buttons appear to the right of each group (the boxes with three horizontal lines shown in the figure above). To move a group to a different location in your manuscript, tap and hold the drag box for the item you want to move. When the box pops out, drag it to the location you want and release. It will move the group and any sub-groups to that point. So, if I tap and hold the drag box to the right of the Blogging group and drag it on top of the Journaling group, it will move and the Platforms and Project Ideas sub-groups will move with it.

At any time you can export a sheet, group or your entire manuscript to a number of formats. These include HTML, ePub, PDF and RTF. All you do is tap to select the group you want to export and swipe left to display the More button. Use the “buttons” at the top of the screen to select the format you want and within seconds it will appear on the screen. The gear icon just below those buttons is used to select a style template. In addition to the ones included with the app, you’ll find a growing library of style “sheets” at the Ulysses web site which can be downloaded and imported into your Ulysses app.

Next, tap the Open In item and move your manuscript to the app/platform of your choice. Yes, it really is that easy. When creating an ePub export, you are prompted to enter title, author and cover art. The ePub export does generate a very nice table of contents too.

Ulysses is an impressive writing platform and quite easy to master. It’s use of Markdown combined with a growing number of export options means my work will survive changes in technology. For me, it’s easier and less distracting than Scrivener, but it’s research support is limited to text and images. At the moment I’m maintaining projects in both platforms, but something tells me that Ulysses will soon be my writing environment of choice.