Word and GitHub
Published on in Writer Tutorials
Updates for iA Writer 5.2, Part 2
The iA Writer 5.2 update started as a simple MS Word export sandwich that should allow exporting pictures and tables (which had earned the most user requests for some time now). It turned into a three-course Word export menu where guests were invited to visit a five-star font cuisine before being served the final GitHub Mousse au Chocolat.
Word Export Update
MS Word is not particularly geared towards writing. But still most corporations use MS Office, most publishers use Word, a lot of writers and journalists are forced to send their text in the print-oriented, complex, heavy .docx format to their editors. And Docx has become the standard for the other two big text processing apps, Apple Pages and Google Docs.
Outside the nerd tunnel of mostly Apple-loving Web designers that speak a rare Chinese dialect called Markdown, no one has heard of iA Writer or the many other wonderful Markdown apps that have popped up over the years.
Long story short: we still need a strong word export. So writers that like to write can use iA Writer and pretend they use Word. Thus far, iA Writer’s Word export was okay. It didn’t do tables, pictures, and footnotes. You could sense that we were not particularly motivated to do it. We are still no fans of MS Word and, just because of that, we made our latest Word export as good as it gets. Here is what it offers:
We had to limit the scope a bit on citations, tasks lists and web images. But overall, this is one of the most complete Markdown to Word exports around.
GitHub on iOS!
You can now add full folders from anywhere in iCloud as Library Locations and it works with some other great apps too. You can even use this system to start syncing your iA Writer documents with GitHub on your mobile devices! How did that happen?
While we were working on finishing V 5.2’s typography, Working Copy popped up on our Twitter radar. We gave it a Twitter nod, and we got invited by Working Copy to test their upcoming release. We loved it before, but then we loved it so much that we decided to help out and provide a stronger integration. You can now reach Working Copy directly from the iA root folder. This happened on the cusp of launch and it may be the actual killer improvement of 5.2.
To use GitHub with a text editor, you need real plain text files without whats and ifs to play well with GitHub. And that’s what we have been doing since the beginning. In terms of versioning, working in teams and text difference controls, this is as good as it gets.
First, you need a GitHub account. Then you need an app called Working Copy. It handles GitHub on iOS. And now, it gets a bit hairy. Federico Viticci uses iA Writer with Working Copy, and he has written one of his War and Peace blog posts about how he does it. It is not for the light-hearted. If you are already a Markdown aficionado, this is probably what you were hoping for.
5.2 would also make Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive integration easier, if only…
What about Dropbox?
A year ago, we jumped on board with iOS 11’s Files API. With the full support of Apple behind it, the decision was easy. iOS had the infrastructure in place to handle all potential file management pitfalls, built-in. And with every major cloud service (including Dropbox) pledging support, it meant we could focus on a single API instead of a custom hack for each cloud.
We’ve had the Files browser implemented in iA Writer for over a year. The biggest complaint we hear from our customers is that it is annoying to have to open and edit documents one at a time through its browser. “Why can’t we just add a whole folder to the Library like on Mac?” The reason is: it takes two to tango, and Dropbox doesn’t yet share full folders through the Files API. In the year since iOS 11 came out and Dropbox’s support for Files hasn’t much improved.
All they need to do is finally allow for folder syncing via iOS Files. If you want to make this happen, go tell them. They are aware of the issue and there are vague promises “we might be the best Files integration next year”. But the way things work in big companies… it can’t hurt to turn on the heat. The same politics apply to Google Drive and Box… If you want a closer integration of iA Writer with them, go tell them!
What about Android?
We updated Android in close collaboration with Google to work on Chromebooks. This earned us a cameo in their latest keynote. We are working on the next iteration, but we do need your help here, too.
Around spring 2019, our Android dev will move to new shores and we need a replacement for him. If you are an Android developer, and you are interested in working with us, please send us a mail to [email protected] What is the job description? You need to love your work and iA Writer and you need to be a nice person to work with. We are flexible in terms of where you work and we’re happy to talk about everything else. The sooner we find you the smoother the transition.
What about Windows?
Windows gets the same Word export, the same typographic love, and a stability bug fix. This is a release in between the next big update with a chic new file browser! The new file browser we have been working on for months. It is not just imitating the Mac. It is going to leap ahead. It offers a dynamic navigable table of content inside the library. Don’t click that link if you’re not a Windows user. It will just make you jealous. (Yes, there is a great chance that this feature will make it to the other platforms as well).
And since you’re asking… Our Windows app has had a great start in 2018 and it is growing at the same speed as our iOS family. We are increasing our investment in Windows, so there will be a lot more action coming in 2019.
And where is my present?
iA Writer 5.2 came with a major typographic update, including some high-end variable fonts. If you’d like to use them outside of iA Writer, go ahead, they are ready for you on GitHub.