I like to work on a variety of computers. Only one of them is a non-Apple product. It’s a cheapo Lenovo laptop I got three years ago at Black Friday sale for $300. The original Windows 8 didn’t last much longer than the first battery charge. Now it runs Xubuntu Linux off of a small solid-state drive I installed. Overall, its 11″ screen and poor battery life make it a mostly pathetic specimen soon to relegated to the scrapheap.
With all of the changes that are happening in the world as we dive headfirst in to 2017 I’ve started to inventory my needs as a writer. My name for this project is the MVW or Minimum Viable Writer. This is a play on the idea of a “minimum viable product” that is popular in the culture of tech startups. It’s an idea rooted in the concept of doing as little as needed to launch a product or service.
A few days ago I made mention of how my writing has migrated towards a mobile-first workflow. Three things have made this possible: the Ulysses app, a foldable keyboard, and a wireless flash drive. (PS—I’m not listing the iPad, because everything listed here also works on a iPhone.) SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick I have the 32GB version. This might seem odd to be listed first, but it’s one of those things that makes it possible to connect a wireless-by-nature device like an iPad to a wired world.
After writing about the trouble with RTF export from iOS apps earlier this week, I took some time to do some in depth testing today. The results were not as good as I’d hoped. I found a few major holes in my plan to use Zoho Writer for RTF export. Starting with a story I just sent out, I went through the entire export process of generating a RTF file to submit.
I recently wrote about how the Ulysses app removed RTF support in favor of DOCX. Overall this opened up file compatibility options with a wide range of apps. I’ve been mostly happy with the change exactly because of this—on the Mac. On iOS it’s something different entirely. Why RTF Rich Text Format is the universal translator language for online fiction publishing. Most all magazines accept it, with some preferring it exclusively.
I’ve been working on this article for a while. Ever since I started experimenting with ePubs exported from Ulysses, I’ve been blogging my results. Now I’m ready to share a full eBook production process using Ulysses and my KBasic style. After introducing my KBasic style, I found that I still wanted to make some adjustments to it. Actually it was more than just a few adjustments. I tried the style on several eReaders and found that I needed to change the text markup too.
This is a simple app that I built with Apple Automator that I’ve been using to upload files to this blog. Overall, WordPress’s web page uploader works well, but it requires a browser window be open. Sometimes I just want to send a file quickly and not bother with that. One of the reasons people like my Post to WordPress plugin for Ulysses is that it avoids having to open up WordPress to save a draft post.
The Ulysses app can do a lot besides writing. I’ve written a lot about how I abuse the poor thing. Its export options offer a variety of formats. One that was convenient was the RTF option. It meant I had one click export to a standard rich text format that’s usually requested by publishers. The v2.1 Ulysses update replaced RTF with DOCX, the new Word 2007 format. These files aren’t usually accepted via email because of the chance that they carry a macro virus.
I’ve made a significant update to my app Post to Wordpress for Ulysses today. I’ve improved it so that there’s no need to edit the Automator app or need two parts (app & code file) for everything to work. The blog information (user name, password, URL, and SSL preference) is now stored in a separate file. Also, all the posting code is now inside the app, and the user doesn’t need to create a ~/bin folder to keep the Ruby code file in.
I just uploaded a style sheet for the Ulysses writing app that I’ve been working on to the Ulysses Style Exchange. It’s called KBasic and it’s meant to make creating ePub files easy. I’ve been fighting with ePub formatting for a while now. It turns out I was trying to do too much. The eReaders (hardware & software) do a great job of displaying even unformatted text. I even experimented with using a blank stylesheet to see what would happen.