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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About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 14 July 2012, in technical writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I’m still just not into writing with a soft keyboard. I bought a USB keyboard, which works alright, but the software doesn’t seem to identify the fact that I’m on a USB keyboard and still pops up the blasted soft keyboard during operation. It’s frustrating, but realistically, maybe I shouldn’t be drafting documents on my phone. Even so, I expect developers will get the idea sooner or later, and detect the USB keyboard, flagging the soft keyboard to prompt me if I want it with a “don’t ask me again if USB keyboard is connected” option. That’s what I want.

    That being said, I’ve been thinking about creating a TC designed app specifically for drafting mobile content. I haven’t seen this one, but the one I was thinking about creating would be for developing help content on mobile devices. Specifically, it would be an HTML generator.

    All styles would come form a CSS. The CSS can be editied in the app. If a style doesn’t exist in the CSS, it doesn’t appear as an option. Standard CSS files would be provided.

    The output would be basic HTML – and by basic I mean very basic – nothing but standard tags. The app would include verification through W3C markup. This is to ensure cross-browser compatibility. The generated output would be visible as a web page. Actually, it wouldn’t even be generated – it’s just HTML by default.

    The CSS should include button styles compatible with all browsers. Sure, you can use image buttons if you want, but I think CSS buttons look better and scale correctly. You should be able to preview this on the device, and the preview should allow you to select a screen size and/or pixel density. The app should handle verifying cross links, and give you the option to use a button or a hyperlink depending on the style you select. (I personally hate hyperlinks on small devices, particularly in collapsible trees).

    Once you’re done, you just hand it off to the dev team for integration with a product, or you include it in whatever project you’re generating, or you put it on a server. It’s very simple. Most of the classes required (probably all of them actually) already exist in the Android and iOS platforms. You don’t need to create much, just wire things together in a simple UI. (One that uses buttons that are easy to push, thank you).

    This app looks interesting, so I have to ask, how does it handle styles? Are these coming form a CSS that is available for edit?

  2. External keyboard support is coming in the first update, due in early august. It turns out I’d underestimated the level of demand for this feature, which is why I didn’t include it in 1.0. But I’ve had a lot of feedback from people who want it, so I’ve made this a priority to get in as soon as possible.

    All the styles are based on CSS. There’s a 1:1 relationship between what you see in the style editor and the CSS styles in the document. There’s currently no support for external stylesheets, but in the long term this is something I hope to include. The app syncs with dropbox, so you can easily edit the HTML file by hand (either with another iOS app or on your computer) if you want to, but there’s no built-in support for doing this within the app itself.

    UX Write outputs standard HTML, and in fact I even have a copy of HTML Tidy (http://tidy.sourceforge.net/) embedded in it which is run on every save.

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