Review: Use WriteUp to create Markdown text on your iPad or iPhone

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At a Glance
  • Prasanna Gopalakrishnan WriteUp for iOS

WriteUp, a $4 text editor for iPhone and iPad, is packed with a lot of good ideas. The app is used to compose text in Markdown (which allows that text to be coded with links, boldface, and other options) and post or share compositions across different platforms. Unfortunately, not all of these ideas are executed successfully.

WriteUp is tightly synced with cloud-based storage service Dropbox, so you’ll want to set up or link a Dropbox account to the app before you start using it. Once the accounts are linked, you can start composing text on your iPhone, and then pick up your thought just seconds later on an iPad, for example. The app saves and backs up your documents to Dropbox so frequently that it feels a little bit like using a Markdown version of Google Docs to write. (The difference: All WriteUp files are saved as basic .txt files.)

Apart from composing individual documents, you can create infinite folders to organize your writing, and you can create new documents within those folders. After you start writing, choose a theme that provides the best writing conditions for your eyes; themes start with the basic black text on a white background, and include a sepia-toned theme and a white text on a dark background option. The size and style of font are also customizable, and a quick tap lets you view your entire document in full-screen mode.

Two features make WriteUp pretty nifty. The first is a running count of how much text you’ve composed—both how many words you’ve written, and an estimate of how long it takes to read that text out loud. Word count is a common feature of text editors, but still welcome. The elapsed time clock is a useful feature for people who must be aware of strict time counts—journalists who write for broadcast radio or television, clergy who want to ensure they don’t test a congregation’s stamina, or for any other public speaking gig with a time constraint. This feature is only available in the iPad version of the app. (Another iPad-only feature is the swipe-and-drag gesture that lets users move the cursor and highlight text.)

The second is the in-app browser, a feature that makes it very easy to do research while you write. Text can be copied (with a URL citation) and easily dropped into the document that you’re composing. iPad writers who often shift between apps to research things will enjoy this aspect of WriteUp.

Another welcome feature lets you tap the screen to see what your Markdown-coded text looks like in a “published” view. You can also favorite a document, or “pin” it to make it stand out amongst various documents. Documents are searchable by keyword as well.

Once complete, you can post compositions to Twitter, or use the native Messages app. Supposedly, documents can also be posted directly to your Tumblr account, but every attempt to do so during my testing ended with the app crashing, even after I had shut down both my iPhone and iPad and restarted them. And that’s a real shame, since Markdown-enabled writing allows you to create formatted texts that shine in Tumblr’s blog format.

Despite this major drawback, WriteUp shines in most other ways. It’s useful and easy to use, and writers who want to compose short notes or long essays will find it nearly ideal.

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At a Glance
  • WriteUp is useful and easy to use, and writers who want to compose short notes or long essays will find it nearly ideal.

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