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.😀

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.😉

About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 20 April 2012, in technical writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. This sounds like an excellent app. I wish I had the time to test it, but that’s not looking good at the moment. Two questions about support, though: Will UX Write support ODF (LaTeX support is amazing, but more folks probably use LibreOffice), and can I use it on my aging 3rd generation iPod Touch (so many apps these days require iOS v5)?

  2. ODF is definitely on the TODO list but might be a little way down the track. The reason for listing LaTeX as a priority is because part of my target market is academics working in the sciences (my own background) who use it a lot. There’s a few other things want to add like an equation editor so where ODF fits in the priority list will depend on the feedback and feature requests I get from the first release. But consider your vote for ODF counted😉

    Regarding iOS version requirements – the app requires iOS 5.1 in order to run. However according to wikipedia the 3rd generation iPod Touch is able to run this – perhaps you are refer referring to an older model? I know it’s annoying they’ve stopped supporting older models – I had an iPhone 3G which is now unsupported and ended up spending $800 on a 4S so I could test my app. I guess this is the price of progress😦

  3. Hallo Peter

    Another question that came up (on Google+) is whether you are planning a version of your app for Android?

    Cheers, Sarah

    • Well, it’s very interesting you should ask that! As it happens, for the first two months of the project, I was developing entirely for Android. About half of the code is written in a cross-platform manner such that it will work on either platform (the remainder being all the iOS-specific UI code). Due to this fact, and because of the much larger market share of the iPad, and also some really nasty problems I ran into with Android’s WebKit implementation, I decided to do the iPad version first.

      Some way down the track, if the product is successful, I’ll look at doing an Android version. However due to the fragmentation in the Android ecosystem it’s a much harder platform to target. Since I have very limited resources (I’m just a single developer) I’m focusing for now on functionality. Hopefully it will be successful enough for me to hire others to help with development, in which case an Android version would become more likely🙂

  1. Pingback: UX Write for sophisticated documents on iPad and iPhone « ffeathers

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