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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“Do You Have Plans for November?” – “I’ll Write a Novel.”

The founders of NaNoWriMo chose November wisely for the challenge of writing 50,000 words (a novel), instead of August or March. November is best suited month for such an undertaking, at least in the Northern hemisphere: Wrimos are not as tempted as in other times to let the 50,000 words alone and go swimming or make a barbecue instead. Luckily, because they need an iron will to follow this project through – they can’t make use of temptations.

“What’s the Tool You’re Writing Your Novel With?” – “Ulysses, of Course.”

Wrimos can make use, however, of a tool that helps them tackle this challenge: Ulysses. Read …

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 […], 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!)

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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Our Most Polished Version Yet: Ulysses 2.5.1 Is on the Stores

Ulysses 2.5.1 is now on the stores

Yes, we’ve spent some time celebrating and enjoying the positive feedback we got after having released Ulysses 2.5 some weeks ago. But this did not keep us from doing our jobs: Ulysses 2.5.1 brings a lot of fixes and improvements, and we can proudly claim that this is the most polished version we have published so far. For details, you can check the release notes for Ulysses for Mac and Ulysses for iOS.

Apart from fixing bugs and crashes, this version brings major improvements to x-callback support in Ulysses for iOS. X-callback is available since Ulysses 2.5 and can be used to allow third-party apps to trigger certain actions with Ulysses. That way, busy writers can create automated workflows to increase their productivity. If that still sounds a bit enigmatic, keep your spirits up: Before long we will have a x-callback introduction for beginners on the blog and present some great ready-made workflows created by other Ulysses users.

Ulysses 2.5.1 is of course a free update for existing users and should already be available on the stores:

Ulysses for Mac
Ulysses for iPad and iPhone

Side note: Any update we publish on the App Stores naturally hides the ratings and reviews for the current version. So please take a minute to update your rating or review, or leave one, in case you haven’t yet. Thank you so much!

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…

Write and Take Notes – Anywhere

An Outlook on Ulysses for iPhone and iPad and what you can do with it, Part 1

It has been a couple of weeks now since we started betatesting a new version of Ulysses for iOS: Ulysses for iPhone and iPad (and iPad Pro and iPod Touch, to be exact). We’re awaiting this release with excitement, and, supposedly, some of you with us: Ulysses, finally on iPhone!

Preview: Ulysses on iPhone

Believe it or not, from time to time we’re asked what people would actually need a writing app on their phones for. Well, we do have some ideas! During the time until the release, we would like to share these ideas with you, and at the same time give you a glimpse of what you can expect.

No matter the size of your device – you’ll get a fully-fledged writing app. Ulysses will be as powerful on iPhone as it is on iPad (and on iPad it is almost as powerful as on Mac). So, in technical respects, writing a novel on your iPhone is entirely feasible, even though you may want to move to a larger screen from time to time.

Whatever you write, Ulysses on iPhone will be the perfect tool for jotting down sudden inspirations wherever you are – in the park, on the subway or even at a party. Most of us are carrying their iPhones around all the time anyway. No notepad, pencil or third party app required. If you return home and open Ulysses on your Mac, your idea will already sit in the right group of your library for further exploration – thanks to iCloud sync and without a chance of being forgotten by mistake.

Ulysses MacBook Air

The beta tests of upcoming Ulysses for iPad and iPhone are going well, we’re getting a lot of positive feedback and not too many bug reports. So, for the time being, we’re still quite positive to release in the first quarter of 2016. If everything goes well… knock on wood ;-)

Merry Christmas, Happy Writing, and Ulysses for iPad 50% Off

Xmas Offer

A lot of things happened in 2015: We have moved from a small and rather dim office to a bright and spacious one. Our team has also grown by more than a third – Sarah, Lea and Lara joined the old crew with Marcus, Max, Götz, Friedrich, Lucas, Rebekka, Lina and Frank. Ulysses arrived on the iPad, and we were overwhelmed (and motivated!) by positive user feedback. On top of that, Ulysses for Mac was awarded Best of 2015 by Apple. Wow. Time to celebrate!

But how? Those who have been following us over some time will have noticed that we hardly ever discount our products. Well, we have decided that celebrating this incredibly great year 2015 is one of these very rare occasions: For a limited time, Ulysses for iPad is available at half the price on the App Store. That is, you can go and buy two licenses for the price of one – to keep one yourself and gift one to your sweetheart, your neighbour or your mother-in-law.

Ulysses for iPad is the ideal gift for any writer who wants to be able to work on the road (and owns an iPad, obviously), the only thing missing is a … personal touch? Yeah, right. Complement your gift a handmade greeting card – we have prepared some free patterns for you to download.

And so we bid farewell for 2015, because software developers need to rest as well. (Customer support is of course available, except for the official holidays.)

Merry Christmas!

PS: Actually we wanted to give you Ulysses for iPhone for Christmas, but it took us longer than expected – sorry. But the Ulysses for iPad on sale now is the very Ulysses that will soonish become universal for iPhone and iPad Pro. Draw your own conclusions ;-)

Boom: Ulysses is App Store Best of 2015!

Yesterday in the late afternoon, an office in Leipzig. The sun has already set, a couple of developers are writing code, and it seems nothing can disturb their immersion… Then, suddenly, the sound of an incoming email. A short pause, the silence breaks.

The subject line reads »Herzlichen Glückwunsch zur Aufnahme in die Bestenliste des App Store im Rahmen der Aktion „Das Beste aus 2015“«. (Obviously someone at Apple knows we’re German.)


Every December, Apple selects the best apps of the closing year. For developers like us, this is one of the greatest appreciations of our work we can get. Of course there is always hoping to be on one of those lists, but you can never know. When it actually happens, it’s just incredible!

We’re excited and honored and proud, especially to have received this award for the second time now. The first time in 2013 was when the new Ulysses was first released. Since then, we have been constantly polishing, improving and expanding. It feels so great to see this being rewarded! I believe all fellow developers who also became Best of 2015 enjoy the same – congratulations to them, too!

2015 was a fabulous year for us, we’ve had a couple of great releases and received a lot of awesome feedback. As the award is completing the year for us, our special thanks go to you, our users. Because without you, Ulysses would not be what it is today. Thank you. You’re the best!

2016 won’t be anything less exciting: We will finally see Ulysses on iPhone!