Writing Isn't Simple

The Mac development community gets on kicks every so often. A few years ago, it was all about FTP/transfer clients. Take your pick. Then it was all about the image editing and GTD slash to-do list management.

The latest trend, however, makes little sense. Chalk it up to the excess of same-minded iOS apps and the massive consumer-base, but the proliferation of plain text editors for writing is crazy. New Mac/iOS apps arrive frequently, and the majority of them claim the same features: clean, minimal design; over-the-air server or Dropbox sync; fast, easy, focused. I suppose Merlin Mann already addressed this, but it’s still a phenomenon for so many developers to act upon the same idea and churn out nearly identical products.

Most of these developers are fantastic (I do use a few of these), and I realize the differences between each of the products (unique keyboard button rows, folders vs. search, custom styling vs. no custom styling), but just look at this list:

  • PlainText - “A simple text editor with a paper-like user interface”
  • SimpleText - “Your writing synced online”
  • Notational Velocity - “An application that stores and retrieves notes”
  • Writeroom - “Distraction free writing”
  • Writer for iPad - “It’s a simple application to write”
  • Simplenote - “An easy way to keep notes, lists, ideas, and more”
  • Elements - “View, edit and share plain text documents”
  • DropText - “Open, edit, and save plain text files from your Dropbox account”
  • Helvetinote - “Here to simplify and improve your note taking experience.”
  • Notesy - “A note-taking app backed by the power of Dropbox”
  • Nottingham - “Designed to be lightweight and easy to use”
  • JustNotes - “A simple, beautiful and powerful notes app”

This list, of course, doesn’t include text editors with coding syntax like TextMate and BBEdit, which occupy a similarly massive space.

Fyi, btw: I use Simplenote + Notational Velocity for personal items and Elements for work items.

Oh, and sorry for the poor anchor text in the first paragraph. But it certainly looks crazy when you view it in Markdown.