Writing Kit is an iOS text editor for writers who want to do research and write documents in Markdown, an easy-to-read and easy-to-write plain text format. This blog is the home to many tips and tricks for Writing Kit users.

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Last week Brett Terpstra wrote a fantastic wishlist for the “true Markdown editor”. I found myself nodding in agreement with most of his points; indeed, those were the precise reasons why I wrote Writing Kit in the first place.

Let’s go through the hidden power of Writing Kit, in the order of Brett’s wishlist.

Emphasizing text

Tapping on the Bold (B) or Italic (I) button inserts the strong text or emphasized text markup, respectively. The content is selected so that you can overwrite it right away. If you tapped those buttons by mistake, tapping them one more time will remove the wrapping markup so you don’t even need to undo.

The Bold and Italic button works even if you’re having some text selected. If the text hasn’t been emphasized, markup will be wrapped around it; otherwise, markup will be removed. In both cases, your selection remains the same.

Intelligent indentation, list continuation, or ‘Clever Return Key’

Tapping return at the end of a line creates new paragraph, adds list item, extends current block quote and code snippets at the same level, depend on which kind of content you’re typing.

Auto-pairing and wrapping

The new keyboard extras (accessible via one-finger swipe on the Markdown bar) have three dedicated keys for (…), […] and “…”. Tapping either of them creates a pair of bracket and puts the cursor in the middle. If you’re selecting some text, brackets will be wrapped around that text instead.

Tab indents

Writing Kit uses the one-swipe gesture to indent/un-indent the current text block. If you’re selecting some text, it’ll apply to the entire selection.

Table of Content, or ‘Outline’

Writing Kit allows quick access to the document outline, listing not only all headers but also images and links in your document, and allowing you to quickly jump to any of them.

The ‘Scroll to Bottom’ button is another bonus.

Heading creation

The Heading (H) button functions similarly to the Bold and Italic ones. In addition, it circles between different heading levels (from H1 to H6), depending on how many times you tap on the button.

List, blockquote, and code snippet creation

Selecting a number of lines and tapping on the Unordered List or Ordered List button turn them into list items. Tapping the button again reverses the action. Same goes for the Blockquote and Code Snippet button.

List level can be changed by using the aforementioned one-finger-swipe gesture.

Ability to convert all inline links to references

Thanks to Brett’s Markdown Service Tools, Writing Kit has the ability to make your Markdown source code even prettier.

See it for yourself

I’m pretty sure that Writing Kit is one of the few desktop-class Markdown editors for iOS. If you live and breath Markdown, and have yet to give it a try, I’d urge you to do so.

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Last month, Stu Maschwitz and John August introduced Fountain, a new simple markup syntax for screenplays. It is very similar to Markdown in terms of readability and intuitive syntax.

Today I’m excited to announce Fountain support in Writing Kit 3.2. You can now open, edit, navigate, and preview Fountain screenplays right within the app.

To create a new screenplay, simply select ‘New Fountain Document’ when you tap on the ‘+’ button in the File Drawer.

Create new Fountain screenplay

You can choose the new monospace ‘Courier Screenplay’ font in the Settings pane to write your screenplay.

Courier Screenplay font

To quickly navigate between different sections and scenes, tap on the Outline button and select the desire place to scroll to.

Screenplay Outline

You can preview your screenplay at any time by tapping on the eye-shaped Preview icon. The screenplay will be beautifully rendered in the Courier Screenplay font with all the features like scene headings, transitions, dialogues, etc.

Screenplay Preview

This is only the beginning. If you have any feedback, feel free to contact me on Twitter (@writingkit), via email (support at getwritingkit dot com) or chime in the newly opened discussion forums (http://forums.getwritingkit.com).

As usual, please help me spread the words about Writing Kit and review the app on the App Store!

Get Writing Kit from the App Store now!

Writing Kit 3.1 In Pictures

Freshly baked GIF detailing Writing Kit 3.1 features by your truly.

Check for Updates if you haven’t done so — 3.1 is awesome!

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App Icon

The first thing you will notice in this 3.0 update is the brand new app icon. Under the hood, Writing Kit 3.0 is a major release that helps refine many of the app’s powerful features, make them more friendly and easier to use.

Let’s go through each of them in brief details.

Undo/Redo, Clever Return Key, Convert inline links to references

Version 3.0 finally includes proper support for undo/redo. To access this feature on your iPhone, shake your device. On iPad, swipe 2 fingers to the left to undo, and swipe to the right to redo. With this, you should no longer be afraid of making mistakes.

"Clever Return Key" is another helpful feature that eases your document editing. Writing Kit now tries to guess your intention when you tap on the Return key: If you are typing a paragraph, tapping Return will create another for you. Typing a list item, hit Return, and another list item will be appended. Same goes for block quotes and code snippets. This will be a great time-saver for Markdown users.

One more task has been added to the Markdown Source code section, which allows you to replace inline links in the current document with the reference style. Another Markdown users’ favourite, I’m sure.

Redesigned File Drawer and Quick Research

You have been asking for a better file drawer, so there you have it: The File drawer now displays full file names and supports 4 different sorting orders based on Name and Modification date. Document creation button has been moved into this screen as well. More advanced features will come in upcoming updates.

File drawer

Writing Kit will no longer strips all punctuation marks from your filename. Only those truly unsupported by Dropbox are automatically removed: < > : ” / \ | ? *

In addition, the Quick Research screen has been completely revamped. You no longer need to wonder what to put in the search field; Writing Kit now suggests you what to type. Also, it gives you dozen of samples to learn how powerful this feature can be.

Quick Research

Readability support

Readability users now enjoy the same level of integration Instapaper users do since Writing Kit 1.0:

  • Add links to Readability
  • Access unread items from the Queue screen
  • View the Text-only mode through the Readability mobilizer

Mobilizer

Tweaks and bug fixes

A new button has been added to the Insert Quote/Link screen, namely “Paste from Clipboard”. It does exactly what it says on the tin: paste the current clipboard content into your currently focused text field.

Many small bugs have also been fixed, including the inability to use the “Choose Image from Library” button in the iPhone version.

It’s time to update

That’s all there to it. Update your copy of Writing Kit now and enjoy the new additions to the app. I’d really appreciate if you can rate and leave a review for Writing Kit on the App Store. And be sure to spread the words!

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After roughly one week in review, Writing Kit 2.5 is now available on the App Store. This is mainly a maintenance update shipping with the following changes:

More fine-grained editor settings

The Editor Settings screen has been completely redesigned in this version. Now you can control exactly which features to be enabled in your documents: Auto-Capitalization, Auto-Correction, Check Spelling, TextExpander support.

Settings screen

You can also tap on the ‘Open the Settings app’ button to dive into other Advanced settings that, in the past, may have been unknown to you.

Custom themes

If you have been putting up with the boring black-text-on-white-background business, now is your chance to enjoy something more beautiful. Writing Kit 2.5 comes with 16 different themes, or rather ‘color schemes’, that helps you further customize your writing environment. Be it green-on-black, or white-on-blue, you are free to give them all a try.

Themes

iOS 5 requirements, tweaks and bug fixes

Writing Kit is powerful and very robust, but admittedly many of its features remain obscure and plain awkward to use. Writing Kit 2.5 marks the point I begin to gradually re-introduce all these powerful features, in a much more friendly way.

To that end, Writing Kit now requires iOS 5. This change will make future updates smoother and more stable.

In upcoming days, I will start work on the next major update to the app — Writing Kit 3.0 — and document the improvements on the way. Stay tuned.

Writing Kit: An iPad Writing App That Puts References At Your Fingertips

It’s app as multitool, seeking to provide all the functions that a web-native author might want in their day-to-day work. What I find interesting about it is the way of thinking about how you carve the world up into tasks. From an engineering standpoint, it’s kind of a mess of features. From a user experience design standpoint, it’s a tuned set of tools for a particular kind of user working on a particular kind of job. This style of integration makes no sense on a machine that allows you to open two windows next to each other, but becomes very interesting on a machine where you can’t.

A review by Tim Maly from Fast Company’s Co.Design.

  • Question: Could you consider adding support for Readability, including plugging it into all the places Instapaper works in Writing Kit right now? - chartier
  • Answer:

    Yes, Readability support will be added to Writing Kit now that I finally got an API key from them. Stay tuned.

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Writing Kit works hard to bring you a pleasant researching experience. The built-in web browser includes an Ad-blocker, which is enabled by default and silently removes the most obstrusive banners you see on the web.

AdBlocker

To truly remove all distractions, you can switch to the Text-only mode powered by Instapaper. All pages you access from that point will be stripped out of noises and advertisements. Of course you can go back to the full web at any time by tapping on the Content button.

Text-only mode

Let’s now talk about the Reading queue. Working in the same way as Safari’s Reading list, this built-in queue helps you collect links to read later. In my experience, it works much better than the usual ‘Open Link in New Tab’ feature.

Reading queue

To add the current page to the Reading queue, tap on the Action button and select ‘Add to Queue’.

Add current page to queue

To queue a link on the current page, tap-and-hold that link and select ‘Add to Queue’.

Add a link to queue

Power users can even queue a search by typing it into the address bar and select ‘Add to Queue’.

Add search query to queue

You can access the Reading queue by tapping on the Queue button at the bottom left corner of the browser. As a convenient shortcut, you can tap-and-hold that button to access the next item in the queue without opening it.

One of the main ideas behind Writing Kit is that you are always welcomed to try out the app without any commitment. It means however deep you integrate it into your workflow, you can take your data out and abandon the app at any time. Same thing applies to the Reading queue: Feel free to export your queue whenever you want.

Exportueu

Enjoy!

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Writing Kit’s built-in web browser features deep integration with Instapaper. Why would you need it? Simply put, while researching your materials within Writing Kit, you may come across something you want to read outside the app. Instapaper is perfect for this.

And because Writing Kit is awesome, it understands that you may already use Instapaper to collect your researching materials. Writing Kit gives you access to your unread items at any time.

Send links to Instapaper

You can just tap-and-hold any links and select ‘Add to Instapaper’ to have it added to your Unread items.

Tap-and-hold

As for the current page, tap on the Action button and select ‘Add to Instapaper’.

You can include a summary by highlighting some text in the web page before sending the link to Instapaper (Writing Kit 2.5+, in review).

Send current page to Instapaper

Result

Yes, Writing Kit is that awesome.

Access Instapaper unread items (Instapaper subscription required)

Just tap on the Queue button and switch to the Instapaper mode.

Instapaper unread items

Unlike the local queue, links are not automatically removed from your Instapaper unread items once you read it. You need to manually swipe the link and select ‘Archive’, or tap on the Edit button to enter Edit mode to do so.

Edit mode

Give Writing Kit a try; I know you’ll love it.

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Quick Research is an incredibly useful feature in Writing Kit, thanks to its DuckDuckGo integration. It gives you access to a wealth of information from quality sources without having to switch to other apps, or even open the built-in browser.

Research while you work on your document

You can open the Quick Research popover at anytime by tapping on the Beaker icon.

Quick Research button

Say, you want to find information about the TV series “How I Met Your Mother”. Let’s put that in the Quick Research box, and select “Learn more about the phrase …”.

Learn more

There you have it: an abstract from Wikipedia, tons of related topics, ranging from “2010 American comedy television series” to “Television series by Fox Television Studios”, and relevant web links (official site, Wikipedia entry, etc).

Info

Tap on each result will give you even more useful information. And of course you can select any image or quote you like and insert them to your current document.

Even More Info

In the iPad version, if your “quick” research mission gets out of hand at any time and you need access to other advanced tools like Reading Queue or Bookmarks, tap on the Enlarge (⤢) button and continue your research in the full-blown built-in web browser.

Quick Research is that powerful.

Research while you browse the web

Unsurprisingly, Quick Research is also available when you’re using the built-in web browser. Just tap-and-hold any word or phrase and select “Learn more…” to open the popover.

Research in web browser

Tap on any result will open its associated link in the browser.

Tip: If you want to add that link to your Reading Queue, tap-and-hold the result instead.