Review: Write for iPhone brings easy Markdown writing for Dropbox users
By Jeffery Battersby
At a glance
Write ($2) is a text-editing app for the iPhone that offers Dropbox users a unique set of tools for creating standard text files and Markdown formatted text. While at first Write may seem just like the dozens of other text editing apps available on the App Store, a few minutes of working with the app makes it clear that it’s a cut above just about anything else you may have used.
When you first open Write, a brief tutorial walks you through the app’s features and then, because the app is designed to work with Dropbox, you will have to link Write to your Dropbox account. (If you don’t have a Dropbox account you cannot use the app.)
As set through the app’s default settings, Write opens ready for work with a new, blank text document named using the date and time when the document was created. You can easily change this by tapping the title bar and typing something new. If you’ve already named your document, or if you’re working on something that you created in another text editor, renaming the doc in Write also renames it in your Dropbox. Hold and drag from the top down in any new document, and Write saves your file. Doing the same in any existing document gives you the option to delete the file, while holding two fingers on an open document gives you the option to resize or change your display font.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Write’s editing environment is that, in addition to the standard iOS keyboard, the app offers a shortcut bar, which puts a number of useful tools for oft-used keys—such as the “@” sign, quotation marks, and exclamation point—at your fingertips. In the middle of the shortcut bar is a small bull’s-eye that offers an amazingly useful tool: the cursor button. To use it, tap and hold the cursor button, and then drag your finger around the screen: In doing so, Write allows you to quickly place the cursor anywhere you want within your text. Tap it a second time and drag your finger around the screen to easily select text. I found the cursor tool to be better and easier to use than Apple’s built-in text selection tools.
Sliding the shortcut bar to the left reveals Write’s Markdown shortcuts; a set of buttons you can use to quickly add John Gruber’s Markdown syntax for simplifying URL links, image links, and other HTML formatting to your documents. This toolbar also offers a Markdown preview mode so you can see what your formatted text will look like when you print it or export it to HTML.
Write offers more than 22 ways for you to share files, including everything from copying the Dropbox link for the file to posting the text to Facebook, publishing the HTML file as a Website, or printing on your local printer. If the built-in options aren’t enough to satisfy you, you can also create your own sharing options.
Among the app’s other useful features is a Quicklook-like preview of documents you’ve already created. Tap and hold a document within your list of existing documents and a small window appears where you can preview the entire document, copy the Dropbox link, delete, or rename your file.
Write’s only real downside is the fact that you can’t use it if you don’t have a Dropbox account, which may limit Write’s usefulness for some users. Other options for saving files, like iCloud, are necessary to make this an app something everyone can use. Also, because the text editing area on my iPhone 4S is so tiny, I hope an iPad version arrives in the App Store sooner rather than later.
Write is a fantastic text editing app. So good, in fact, that it has replaced the other apps I’ve been using on my phone. The cursor tool, easy access to Markdown, and a broad variety of output options make Write one of the best text editing apps I’ve had the pleasure of using on any of my iOS devices.
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