Essays on Technology and Culture

On That $25 Text Editor

Every so often, a new app, or a new release of an app, comes out with a premium price point compared to others in its niche and certain people can’t help but roll their eyes and make snarky tweets about it. Stuff along the lines of “Oh, boy, yet another expensive text editor I can use to write reviews of expensive text editors,” or “A $25 text editor isn’t going to write your novel for you,” or whatever else you want to come up with. Most of them are variations of those two themes.

And, look, I’m a semi-reformed iOS text editor addict. I understand, but I’m trying not to be snarky about people’s app choices these days. Besides, the ultimate snarky text editor post is five years old, and nobody’s topped it. There’s no point in me sniping at someone’s decision to blow the price of a decent meal at a reasonably priced restaurant on an app if they think it’s the right choice for them. You can write a novel with ed if you want. I sure wouldn’t want to do it.

Outside of professional app reviewers, people don’t just throw down for software on iOS unless they have a reason. There’s plenty of valid reasons to throw down for Ulysses 2.5. If you’re using it on the Mac, for example, or it has features that you find useful. A friend in a Slack team I hang out in was considering it just so he could use it to export writing to ePub. He decided to go with Editorial and a workflow to convert Markdown to a ton of formats. Personally, I’m happy with Byword for my writing needs. Everyone has different priorities, different needs, and different price points they’re willing to pay, and that’s fine.

No, a fancy text editor is not going to be the catalyst for breaking through all your distractions and getting you to write the Great $nationality Novel, or even just a blog post. Neither is buying a bunch of fancy pocket notebooks in pretty colors, for that matter. And, you know what? I don’t think anyone really thinks that it will be. If someone comes to you asking for advice on what iOS writing app they should get with the $25 iTunes Gift Card they got at the quarterly Office Happy Hour raffle, then by all means, point them at the app you prefer for whatever reason. If they choose to buy that $25 app, then what does it matter, as long as they’re writing?