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UX Write for sophisticated documents on iPad and iPhone

There’s a shiny new word processor in town, designed specifically for the iPad, iPhone and other iThingies. It’s called UX Write, designed and built by Peter Kelly at UX Productivity. Peter has built some super cool features into this app. It’s just been approved for the Apple app store. Congrats to Peter on the version 1.0 release!

A few months ago, I was an early beta tester for UX Write. I wrote up the results then. Now, just three months later, version 1.0 is out. That’s rapid development indeed.

This video shows the solid word processing capabilities of the app, as well as the smarts Peter has added to speed up the document development process.

A new way to position your cursor and select text

It’s a fiddly business, using the standard Apple user interface to put your cursor at a particular spot in a document, or to select a range of text. Peter has devised a new method for UX Write on the iPad. (It’s not available in the iPhone version.)

The UX Write keypad has two extra keys at the top left. When you press one of them, the rest of the keypad changes to a swipe pad. You can drag your fingers across the pad to put your cursor exactly where you want it, and then to select text fast and with precision. Very very nice.

This screenshot shows UX Write on the iPad. I’ve opend the “Insert” menu. On the keypad at the bottom, you can see the two keys for positioning your cursor and selecting text. Watch the video (above) to see them in action!

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New text processor for iOS – UX Write looking for beta testers

Coming soon to your iPad and iPhone: a new text processing app designed for structured, sophisticated documents. I’ve had some fun beta-testing UX Write, an app under development by Peter Kelly at UX Productivity. It’s very cool.

UX Write is in the fairly early stages of development, but it can do a lot already. The screenshots below show the functionality as it is today. It will change. :)

UX Write stores its content as HTML. It uses WebKit to render the content. WebKit is the browser engine behind Safari and Chrome. Peter also plans to support Microsoft Word and LaTeX in a future version of UX Write.

What UX Write looks like

I love the whole idea of this app, and the philosophy behind the design of the menus: Start off simple, and progressively give access to more complex functionality.

This is a screenshot of a document in UX write on my iPad. (You’ll notice some of the wording from this blog post in the document.) The screenshot shows the specialised keypad that UX Write supplies, with fast access to some handy characters.

A document in UX Write with keypad

Peter has extended the standard keypad to provide quick access to often-used keys. He plans to add more smarts to the choice of quick keys. You’ll notice the forward and backward-pointing arrows on the keypad. They move the text insertion point along the line of text, giving finer and faster control than the standard method of positioning the cursor by touching the screen.

In addition to the usual “Select” and “Select all” options that appear when you touch the text, UX Write has “Select paragrah”.  A very nice touch. :D

Applying styles to text

You can apply formatting to text. That’s neat.

Formatting text

Even neater is that UX Write supports styles, along the lines of those in Microsoft Word.  What’s more, you can define your own styles too.

Designing and applying styles

I’ve suggested to Peter that it would be great to share the styles across documents, so that you can build up a portfolio of favourite styles.

Inserting figures

The insert menu currently allows you to add figures, tables, cross-references and hyperlinks. When you add a figure, one of the options is to pull it in from your photo album on the iPad or iPhone.

Inserting an image from your photo album

Cross-referencing

You can insert headings, tables and images (figures) and then add references to them. The hyperlinked words “Table 1″ in this screenshot are an example of such a reference.

Adding cross-references

Document outline

The outline shows the structure of your document, and you can click the sections to jump to the relevant part of the document. I think Peter has more plans for this option too. In future, you may be able to move sections around within the outline.

Document outline

Getting the document out of UX Write

And this is where it starts getting really exciting! You can already print the document, convert it to PDF, email it, and open it in Evernote and Dropbox. The print and PDF outputs do not yet support page headers and footers, but those are in the pipeline once the Word and LaTeX support are available.

Exporting content from UX Write

Storage

You can choose from three storage locations for your document: Dropbox, the iPad or iPhone, or a WebDAV server. Pretty awesome!

UX Write storage locations, showing the files on Dropbox

A cool thought: Confluence wiki supports WebDAV (although the configuration is a bit fussy). Peter Kelly is thinking about the possibilities of integrating UX Write with Confluence and other content management systems.

Would you like to be a beta tester?

Here’s the great thing about beta testing this app: Peter Kelly works fast. When I sent my first batch of suggestions to him, he’d already implemented a number of them and had the next beta build ready for testing! If you do decide to sign up as a beta tester, expect a fast ride. He’s also very receptive to ideas and discussion.

I’ve been doing the testing on the bus, on the way to and from work. I started this blog post that way too. This is exactly the use case Peter is aiming at: working on your document on the run.

Visit the UX Write website or drop Peter Kelly a line at peter@uxproductivity.com. He’s especially keen to hear from people who spend their lives writing complex and professional documents. That’s us, folks. ;)

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