Ulysses 2.8 – Touch ID, Group Statistics, and the Return of Clarus the Dogcow

Touch ID

Hey there, friends. Ulysses 2.8 is upon you, and I’d once again like to take this opportunity to shed some light on what’s new, and why we thought the changes and additions were great ideas.

Touch ID

The most prominent new feature is Touch ID and Password Lock. It’s also the easiest to explain and rectify – locking was requested roughly a gazillion times, and seeing how Ulysses has moved to mobile devices, and how these device are oftentimes shared among family and friends, privacy is a major concern, and little if anything is more private than your writing (check your photos, though).

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Ulysses on Setapp

Our friends over at MacPaw have just launched Setapp – a permanent, subscription based, ever-growing, curated app bundle for Mac. And Ulysses is in it from day one.

Setapp is $9.99/month, currently offers 60+ apps, among which are such greats as Hype, Rapid Weaver, Aeon Timeline, Marked, Screens and Clean My Mac. It’s an awesome package of immense value, and since this is just the beginning, it will get insanely better over time, just by design.

You can read all about Setapp on their page, so I won’t bother you with subscription details or update policies. Instead, I’d like to be pre-emptive for once and answer some of the questions that are surely infiltrating your minds right now.

Are you leaving the Mac App Store?

No. We are not leaving the App Store at all. We see Setapp as an interesting opportunity for a certain kind of user, and we want to be part of that opportunity. Our goal is to reach as many users as possible, and if you find Setapp attractive, if you have use for the included apps, if maybe these apps are all you’ll ever need, then you may be happy to have Ulysses included. For us, Setapp is just another way to get Ulysses into the hands of users. It’s an option.

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Improving Ulysses’ Touch Bar

Two weeks ago, we released Ulysses 2.7 with support for Touch Bar on Apple's latest MacBook Pro. When we started work on Touch Bar, we only had Xcode and some third-party apps to do very basic emulation: showing keyboard and Touch Bar on an iPad Pro, for example. You can’t fully test, even less appreciate a new input device via emulation, though. So we eagerly awaited the arrival of our own hardware.

And when it finally arrived, we only had three days between unpacking and the 2.7 release. This was barely enough to go through quick “yes, works” test-runs – and even during this time, we already realized how some of our ideas wouldn’t work that well and needed a proper revisit in due time.

So since then, we have taken another look at our initial implementation, came up with new ideas, and shuffled around some buttons and options. Today, we are releasing Ulysses 2.7.1 with an updated take on Touch Bar, and I'd like to take this opportunity to talk about the biggest changes, and our Touch Bar approach in general.

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Ulysses 2.7: Touch Bar, Sierra Tabs and Then Some

Today we’re releasing Ulysses 2.7 on the App Store. It’s a rather big release, even though there’s not that one major headline feature, like… making coffee or such (though, boy, this would come in handy now). It’s more of a foundation release, with tons of fixes, under-the-hood changes and improvements to keep Ulysses’ code base fresh and… juicy. Yes, juicy. There, I said it.

That’s not to say there aren’t any new features, mind you. Though “new”, as is the case with any adjective claim, lies in the eye of the beholder, but more on that later.

Touch Bar Support on MacBook Pro (2016)

To get this one out of the way quickly: Ulysses 2.7 now supports Touch Bar, Apple’s latest take on humanizing hardware interfaces. It’s brand-new, obviously, so there isn’t much (if any) experience with how users expect this thing to work, but we took the time and implemented what we believe is a solid first take on awfully promising technology.

The primary focus for our initial Touch Bar support was, of course, the editor, and you can now access Ulysses’ markup features right from the Touch Bar. Yay! But since markup is based on keyboard input anyway, and since the most common definitions are so easy to type (headers, emphasize etc.), we didn’t just populate the Touch Bar with a scrolling list of tags. Instead, we took a page from our iOS implementation, and are offering logical markup groups alongside dedicated buttons for three of the more complex (but widely used) definitions.

Ulysses' Editor Touch Bar

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Ulysses 2.6: WordPress Publishing, Dropbox on iOS, New Typewriter Mode

Screenshot of Ulysses, showing this WordPress blog post in a preview window

Two and a half years ago, I took the plunge. I did what we were told not to do. I did what everybody who’s been in this business for more than two weeks knows not to do. I did it anyway.

I announced a new feature before it was ready for prime time.

To quote (oh, this hurts):

The next update will see us leveraging the metaWeblog XML-RPC API, to plug Ulysses III right into your favourite blogging engines.
So whether you’re running a self-hosted blog or […] WordPress.com, chances are high that 1.2 will allow you to publish your work directly from within the app. No more copy and paste, no more switching between browsers, you know the drill, you hate it as much as everybody else.

It doesn’t matter why we couldn’t do what we set out to do, or why we announced this in the first place. And today nothing of this matters anymore (it still hurts, trust me). Because today, we finally deliver on this promise I made two and a half years ago.

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My Virtual Acceptance Speech During This Year’s Apple Design Awards (WE WON, YEEEEEHA!)

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Max, Götz and Friedrich on stage at WWDC

Wow! Just… wow! Thank you so much. Apple, everyone at Apple: Thank you! Wow.

Now… sorry *cough*. We're in this for a lot of years now. We started when Safari was still in beta. Remember this? I understand there are people in the audience who weren't even born then. Max was still in school, and I was doing advertisements for Daimler/Chrysler. Yes, that was a thing once. The US was run by some George W. Bush, and everyone thought he was crazy; turns out we ain't seen nothing yet, eh?

Well, anyway. Ulysses. ADA.

When we released Ulysses III a couple of years ago, 2013, we knew we had something special. It was hard to put our finger on one particular thing – we felt it was the whole package that clicked. And it wasn't the app at this particular point in time, that particular release, but rather the foundation we had spent the past 18 months to build, and, yes, the design that went into all its bits and pieces.
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Whoomp! There It Is…

Say hello to Ulysses 2.5! This is our biggest release yet, spanning every current device and system, from iPhone 5 to iPad Pro to MacBook Air and the big guys, adding device- and system specific features such as 3D Touch and iOS 9 Multitasking.

Whatever I’d be telling you now – about our excitement, our happiness, our pride: It would be a shameless understatement. So I’ll just leave it at a simple fact: We just can’t wait for you to get your hands on it!

Of course, the iPhone version will take the spotlight during the coming days, and I want to thank our entire team for managing this crazy task with such confidence and… yes, ease. When we set out to port Ulysses from Mac to iPad and bring it over fully-intact, it already seemed like an impossible feat. Moving the whole app over to iPhone, though? Seriously, if you had told me three years ago that we’d one day put a near feature-complete version into the palm of your hands, I would’ve died laughing. And I’m the naive dude in this company.

I would also like to thank our beta testers for being such a thorough bunch, and for providing invaluable feedback as well as cheering and otherwise encouraging support. You know who you are! Thank you!!!

Ulysses 2.5 is a free update for existing users, so everybody who already got the iPad version will have a nice present when they check the App Store on their iPhones. And if you’re new to Ulysses, you can still grab it at its current price, before we’ll raise it a bit in the coming weeks.

Now please quit reading and get this thing, explore, have fun, take care, go write your fingers bloody…

Ulysses for Mac 2.2

The latest version of Ulysses for Mac just went live on the Mac App Store. It features, among other things, direct publishing of drafts to the Medium network. You can read all about it on Medium, so I won’t go into depth here, but needless to say we’re very excited. Medium publishing will also make it to the iPad and (forthcoming) iPhone versions, of course. We just didn’t have the time to ship all three at once this time around…

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Out Now: Ulysses 2.1 for Mac and iPad

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Whoops, there it is – the Backup Update. And the DOCX Update. And the Collapsible Folders on iPad Update. So it’s three updates rolled into one, on two platforms. That’s quite a confusing set of numbers, and I could go on and on and babble about math and stuff, when all I really want to say is: “IT’S OUT! GO GET IT ALREADY!

But you knew that when you scanned the headline, so what else is new?

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Push the Button

Earlier today, at around 7:00 AM Central European Time, Max logged into iTunes Connect and decided it was time to finally release Ulysses 2.0. He had a sip from his WWDC-themed coffee mug, blinked a few times, took a deep breath and hit that on-screen button, which would push the app onto the various App Stores across the world.

Max then closed the lid of his MacBook Pro, kissed his wife good-bye for the day and went to see his kids to Kindergarten. But not before he shared a small screenshot with the rest of the team, accompanied by his favorite four letter word: “BOOM!”

So as you read this, Ulysses should already be available for download – on both Mac and iPad. iTunes usually needs a while, before its multi-trillion-apps database updates its gazillion-trillion-entries search index, but it’s there, we’ve seen it, people are already getting it, writing rave reviews in it, and generally having a great time with it. At least we hope they do. Heck, yes, they do!

And while reviews are starting to trip in, and our Twitter stream is picking up pace (and our devices have all been silenced in the process), I’ll take the opportunity to thank a couple of people, whithout whom this thing would never have come around.

First off, naturally, our team, the whole team, and nothing but the team. So here’s to Lina, Frank and Lucas, who kept their cool during the last twelve months of support and beta requests. To Friedrich and Götz, who coded the hard parts, from sync to iPad UI and almost everything in-between. To Rebekka, who kept posting and newslettering and pushing us to consider and approve every word and release note, even when we didn’t want to read or write or know no more. And of course to Max, who held it together when I could not.

I’d also like to thank Jono Hunt for his six month calm, during which we created, tweaked, remodelled, tweaked, reshaped and further tweaked the new app icon. We believe it’s a damn fine icon, and I’ll do a post-mortem soon, where I’ll go through the whole process (and how long this has been coming).

Last not least here’s to our friends and families for all your ongoing support!

I’m awfully proud of what we have accomplished here. Some of this stuff is crazy shit, seriously. Stuff you won’t notice, because it took us months to get right, so you wouldn’t notice. And though this was hard work, folks, all you should probably care about is: Does it work?

I hope it does work. Work for you. Work for us.

So now this one’s finished and out in the wild, it’s time to start the next one. The small one. The one that completes the lineup. Yep, that one. After the break.

Happy writing, everybody!