Monday, August 8, 2011

Comparing iPhone Text Editors, v5

Since version 4 of my comparison, I’ve added WriteUp and Write 2. WriteUp is my new favorite text editor because it can jump between search results within a file. However, it is noticeably slower than my previous favorite, Notesy. It takes longer to sync with Dropbox, and sometimes the user interface locks up for a few seconds. It also has less powerful search options, can’t move files between folders, and the Trash button doesn’t always work. So I’m keeping Notesy installed to handle some of those tasks.

Write 2 is polished in certain ways, but I found it uninspiring now that there are several very good apps in this genre. It does not let you pick which folder to sync, so it can’t be used in concert with other editors, and it’s disconcerting that the textured background does not scroll along with the text.

Droptext 1.2.1 Elements 1.5.1 Locayta Notes 2.0.1 Nebulous Notes 4.3.1 Notely 1.3 Notesy 2.0.2 PlainText 1.4.1 Simplenote 3.1.4 (Premium) Write 2 1.1 WriteRoom 3.0 WriteUp 1.4
Choose Folder on Dropbox Yes No No Yes1 Yes Yes Yes Yes2 No Yes Yes
Nested Folders Yes Yes No Yes1 Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Works Offline No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Choose Font No (Helvetica) Yes Yes3 Yes Yes Yes4 No (Georgia) No (Helvetica) Yes Yes Yes
Font Size No Yes Yes3 Yes Yes Yes4 No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Font Color No Yes Yes3 Yes Yes Yes No No No10 Yes No10
Background Color No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No No10 Yes No10
Multi-File Search No Yes Yes5 No Yes Yes9 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Search Results List No No Yes No No No No No No No No
Jump Within File No No No No No No No Yes6 No No Yes
LF Line Breaks Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sort by Name Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sort by Modified No Yes No No Yes Yes Yes No7 Yes Yes Yes
Rearrange Lines No No No No No No No Yes No No No
Versions No No No No No No No Yes8 No No No
Price $1 $5 free $2 $2 $5 ads or $5 $20/year $2 $5 $3

1. Rather than syncing everything, Nebulous Notes makes you choose individual files as “auto-saves,” which is a drag.

2. Simplenote seems to be much slower than the other apps at picking up changes from Dropbox. It was often 5 minutes out-of-date, and sometimes hours or days. You can force it to sync, but to do that you have to go to the Simplenote Web site.

3. Locayta Notes is the only app I saw that lets you set font and color options per-file.

4. Notesy lets you set both a variable-width font and a fixed-width font, which is a good compromise between choosing just one and choosing per-file.

5. Locayta Notes does some sort of indexed/prefix search, coupled with auto-correct, which didn’t work well for me. Some words it didn’t find at all. When searching for “cat” it would find lots of useless matches of “at” but totally miss “wildcat”.

6. Simplenote’s results-jumping did not work for me with files containing basic Unicode characters such as é and . The tech support person was not able to tell me which subset of characters to avoid, so the only solution seems to be to stick with ASCII.

7. The option is there, but in my experience the modification dates shown in Simplenote, if I’m using Dropbox, have little relation to when I actually edited the files. The tech support person said this is not the normal behavior and is looking into the matter but has not yet found a solution for me. Even going by the displayed dates, the sorting is sometimes out of order.

8. Simplenote’s versions feature is like the one in Lion and works within the app—very cool.

9. Excellent options for searching by word (Boolean AND), phrase, or regular expression. You can also choose whether to search everything or just the filenames.

10. You can’t pick colors, but there are several preset themes to choose from.

4 Comments

I'd be curious to hear what you thought of Junecloud's Notefile.

@Nat Does it support Dropbox?

I thought it did, but apparently it uses Junecloud's own sync, like Delivery Status.

[...] version 5 of my comparison, I’ve added rows for tracking iPad and TextExpander touch [...]

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