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Inspire Writer

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I don't have a very good answer
-Dormouse (February 25, 2022, 11:14 AM)
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But now I do


I think this is the core of the attraction. Comparing Evernote and OneNote a decade ago, Evernote was growing rapidly in popularity despite OneNote having many more features, and I think that's because most people found it convenient in a way that OneNote never has been. It did enough, it was simple to use, and was reliable.

The edit screen is nice to look at and work with. No distractions. It's something that sounds simple, and ought to be simple, but it's not often achieved; near misses impress by being near. And as I'm working on this, I notice my attention entirely on the text. As it should be. But rarely is even in programs with edit panes that occupy the whole screen with nothing but text visible.
Inspire Writer
The image above includes the ribbon. True full screen edit mode loses that.
Inspire Writer

And the key feature, is one that I'm not completely sure about - it has a database. AND it can use its file explorer to work with external files - importing into the database is not required for 95% of the features. The only other markdown program I know that can work with local files and has a database is WriteMonkey 3 which I also like. Ulysses must do too.

Since my aim is relying on local files, why am I finding a database so attractive? That's convenience and flexibility especially for Work in Progress. Now this database doesn't offer more than a small proportion of WriteMonkey's flexibility. And it's clunkier and harder to access - more akin to Scrivener's model. WriteMonkey's Snippet Repository is wonderful, easy and tucks itself completely out of the way when it's not needed. Unsure about that phrase? - no problem, just cut it into the repository; want to rearrange all the sentences, well just stick them in the repository and play copying them back here, there and everywhere. So Inspire's advantage isn't at that level. It's partly in the head (database - temporary - won't get lost) and partly practical. The sheets in the database don't actually live anywhere. Start them, play with them, move them around; they don't need to crystallise into files until until you're happy with them. No need to worry about where they should live or what form they should have (rather similar argument to those users put forward about Roam). It helps Inspire work as a hub.

Because it is also very good at helping the text into a final form and then distributing it wherever it's wanted. This isn't just the range of export options, but the way they are handled. Whatever format is chosen, there's the option to look at a preview of what will be exported, and that can be placed on the clipboard, opened with a chosen external program or saved as a file. Since it also imports a range of text files (docx, md, HTML, htm, txt), that makes for a complete function as a hub (I know the docx imports I tried, mostly failed, but they said they would investigate, and I've seen no other report of such problems). I'd never been particularly taken with Ulysses' feature set, despite its evangelical popularity with Mac writers, but, since it is apparently a much more capable program than this, I can see that it must be a very good program indeed.

Comparison with WriteMonkey 3

Having mentioned it above, and indicated WM3's superiority I ought probably to address the comparison directly. WM3's database has the same flexibility in reordering, searching etc as Inspire's. Inspire doesn't have an equivalent of the snippet repository. Dealing with external files is different - WM3 will import an external file and then synchronise its database with that file; it doesn't work with the external file directly.

WM3 is even more minimal than Inspire, has the most wonderful folding capability (Inspire doesn't have folding at all) and I consider it the most efficient and productive environment for writing and text editing that I have encountered. BUT it has a totally unique design. Being in it all day might increase productivity by 50%, but when there's a need to move in and out then that's -50% instead. It also does not have the ability to interface with docx, its preview is primitive even for a traditional markdown editor and the editing pane is good (with many colour options) but, to my mind, not Inspire good. A hub it is not.

Ultimately it looks as if Inspire Writer just ticks an awful lot of boxes that I need ticking. I'll start addressing foibles and issues in my next post. When I've used it a little more.

Thanks for this. And very good timing! I've started thinking recently that I would like to find a decent WYSIWYG Markdown editor, so it's nice to see more of what the options are.
-Deozaan (February 24, 2022, 10:56 PM)
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In my adventures with AsciiDoc I went on a search for just something like this. It remains my firm belief that AsciiDoc or MarkDown would be so much bigger, if there was such a thing as a WYSIWYG editor for it. So onto the forums I went...and what a disappointment. I was far from the only one suggesting it, there were several threads about it and in none a satisfying answer was given. More like putdown's did occur. For a relatively civil and constructive set of forums that stood out to me. As MarkDown has a much wider adoption as AsciiDoc, you would expect that there would be someone (or a team) capable and willing to do so, for money and/or glory.

As I am bound to AsciiDoc because of work, I have very little interest or time to be using MarkDown in any shape or form. But I would be much more willing to entertain working with MarkDown if there was such a thing as a WYSIWYG editor for it.

And if I may continue the rant for a bit, why are there so many Git clients who are adamant at giving their users the choice in which way internal diffing functionality is presented? I love side-by-side diff'ers and I really don't like showing the original line and changed line below. That may work when there are minor and small amount of changes. But with side-by-side diff'ing, you see so much more, better for context too. But you would get the impression that those clients were made by the same persons that are behind AsciiDoc/MarkDown. Their way or the highway. What happened to let the user choose what works for them?

My boss has the same opinion. And so many open source Git clients do not provide this choice, he shelled out money for Git client 'Fork', because of this very poor stance of open source creators. I get also the impression that this is a divisive subject, in the same way as 'spaces vs tabs' is.

Sorry but had to rant about it for a moment.

It remains my firm belief that AsciiDoc or MarkDown would be so much bigger, if there was such a thing as a WYSIWYG editor for it.
-Shades (February 25, 2022, 07:32 PM)
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Agreed, up to a point: I think there's a limit to how much lipstick can achieve here.

I think plaintext is a great idea, but the specifications are rubbish. Being a precursor to HTML is a very limiting view of the world. Of potential uses. I've even started drafting out a better plaintext specification, just for my own interest.

SpoilerMore like putdown's did occur.
-Shades (February 25, 2022, 07:32 PM)
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Yeah. I find the Obsidian Discord and Forums exactly the same. Generally disdainful of those who use word processors. Fiercely aggressive to explaint markdown rules that they often don't understand. Fierce to defend markdown purity for the sake of interoperability - and this in an app that doesn't fully accept .txt or .markdown etc files! - despite the number of 'acceptable' markdown variations meaning consistency can't exist. Wiki-links are now used by a far wider range of programs than markdown links. One thing I don't understand, even from a purists point of view is why there isn't an editor that doesn't have a config page where users can specify which syntax is read and which syntax is written

But I don't think that need trouble you about programs like Inspire Writer and Ulysses. They utilise some markdown syntax, but also use non-markdown syntax. From their perspective markdown purity will always lose out to their view of usability. And, in the end, I don't think you will ever see real progress through markdown editors. It will come, I believe from programs like this that have a purpose who see that plaintext can be a better way of achieving their ends.

The big one will be when Word, or one of the other big word processors integrates markdown (or other plaintext) import and export. But that may be some way off; it wouldn't be hugely difficult to do, but wouldn't be a big gain for most of their users. Having to integrate all the complexity of documents, printing etc requires a substantial degree of complexity in both the program and the file format. There's a much bigger gain for programs like Ulysses and Roam who can do all the text processing using a database; they don't need to maintain individual documents just address them on import and export.

Hey Ho. On we go. TreeDBnotes ahoy.

Because there doesn't seem to be written about using Inspire Writer on the net, and the degree of similarity in its design and syntax with Ulysses, I thought I'd see what I could find written about Ulysses.

The first thing I found was this on the main page of the website:
Inspire Writer
Hmm. I thought.

I can think of another program with a minimalistic writing interface and a much better ability to see everything and move it around.

Inspire Writer

And, unlike Ulysses, it has two types of tags, and a variety of coloured text and highlights.

Inspire Writer

Take a bow Workflowy!
(And it has kanban and wiki-links too.)

I've also found this blog page about using Ulysses, which I think is actually quite interesting about his methodology and how it's supported by Ulysses. Though maybe seeing it in a slightly Scrivenerish way. I think the features described are all in Inspire Writer.

Writing a novel with Ulysses

 So far, I don't think I've found a feature in Ulysses that's absent in Inspire Writer and I wish it had.

degree of similarity in its design and syntax with Ulysses
-Dormouse (February 26, 2022, 04:13 PM)
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SpoilerI'll admit that I have some level of concern about the remarkable degree of similarity. Similar design, even to using the same symbols and syntax. I can see that some features are implemented differently though. I did once complain to Microsoft's store about them selling a Ulysses app that had a butterfly emblem and had nothing to do with the real Ulysses; it stayed there for a long time, but has now disappeared. OTOH, it's clear that Ulysses has no intention of developing for Windows; it allows some Ulysses users to work cross-platform using a similar but less good program (I can see that Ulysses might see this as a good thing rather than a problem) - see the review cited in my first post; it has been developing steadily for the last four years, and it makes no claim to be Ulysses or in any way related to it. If I had a Mac, I could check to see whether IW has any features that Ulysses doesn't, but I don't so I can't. I do know that Ulysses has features that IW doesn't because I can read about Ulysses and check IW for its presence. And, despite the concerns, I think the world is a better place for having the app available and I don't see any losers (with the Ulysses titled windows app, the purchasers were losers if they believed it was connected to the Mac Ulysses); I hope that belief's not influenced by self-interest.

If I had a Mac, I could check to see whether IW has any features that Ulysses doesn't, but I don't so I can't.
-Dormouse (February 26, 2022, 07:14 PM)
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On checking Ulysses Guides, I find that it doesn't have tables: Inspire Writer does!
-Dormouse (February 26, 2022, 10:23 PM)
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From Ulysses blog March 25th 2016:
We’re flattered by the requests to see Ulysses on other platforms. There are no plans to port Ulysses either to Microsoft Windows or to Android though. First, we’re true Apple enthusiasts. We have been using Apple devices in our professional and private lives for many years. We know these platforms well and would like to keep our focus on them. Second, both Microsoft Windows and Android greatly differ from Apple in their technical specifications, which means bringing Ulysses to them would be quite a lot of work for our small team. Nevertheless, thanks for asking.
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Inspire Writer launched in 2017
There's a huge number of features that Ulysses has and IW doesn't (some small, some quite large) and a few that IW has and Ulysses doesn't. Improvements in IW have e emerged slowly, but steadily, over the last four years and they are clearly targeting the market of Ulysses users when they work on Windows.They wrote a blog post about this a few years ago. Certainly, if I ever had to use a Mac, I would, as things stand, subscribe to Ulysses having had this experience with IW.

I have delved further. I appear to have done some digging in 2017 (according to an email exchange I had with Matt (AeonTimeline)), and found that Inspire Writer was being sold then by the same company as was selling the fake Ulysses. I don't know if it was the same product with different branding, although it seems quite likely.

So, I don't feel I can recommend a product sold by a company that has in the past attempted to sell it fraudulently. OTOH, I do like the product. And copying ideas and methodologies seems par for the course in software. Libre Office deliberately imitates MS Office, Dynalist seems to be as much a clone of Workflowy with some differences and original code - that's pretty much the state of play between Inspire Writer and Ulysses afaics. And Microsoft are still selling this one, despite being aware of the history. And I'll carry on using it, though I will probably have a scout around for any other Ulysses alternatives that nmight be around.


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