The latest craze in writing tools is a growing trend of writing tools (once referred to as ‘word processors‘ but that is so 1999) with ‘minimalist‘ features; often accompanied by ‘distraction free‘ functionality. The word ‘minimalist‘ is a keyword; a euphemism for ‘fewer features.’ That makes the modern writing tool easier to learn and use, vs. a word processor, which, apparently, is cumbersome, slow, and no longer fit for a real writer (Sarcasm Alert!).
Here’s yet another example of marketing speak being used to segregate one product from another (after all, differentiation is key, right). This one is called iA Writer Pro, which bills itself as a ‘professional writing suite‘ and I have a few issues with the app’s name, the app’s description, and, based upon the bang for the buck, even the app’s price.
Feature-wise, though, there is much to like about iA Writer Pro, even if it shuns traditional word processing features. It sits at the high end of the minimalist word processor stack, features syntax control, sidebar tools, an elegant writing workflow, markdown, iCloud sync, full screen mode, stats (sentence, word, and character count), and a few other features which make it a good choice for simple– not major– writing projects.
There’s a nice night mode, and auto markdown formats text on-screen as you writer. iA Writer Pro exports to HTML, RTF, and PDF, and converts to Word .docx forwards and backwards. What’s missing is anything to do with formatting. Use iA Writer Pro to write. Formatting is limited to markdown.
I’m not altogether sure what the ‘suite‘ description entails, unless you simply add basic functions– note, write, edit. That makes it a suite? How about ‘workflow, syntax control, and writing tools.’ Nope. That’s not really a suite of anything other than features and functions, and any word processor or notes app could be called a suite.
How about Pro? Well, iA Writer Pro has a hefty price tag, so if you’re paying to use it, then it must be a professional tool, right? Uh, no. Not really. It’s nothing like Mellel or Nisus Writer Pro or Word or almost anything that’s a traditionally ‘professional‘ level writing tool.
What iA Writer Pro has going for it is the ability to focus on what you write vs. how it looks or how it’s formatted, or trying to master a laundry list of bells and whistles before churning through the first sentence of the next great American novel. There’s more to iA Writer Pro than most of the notes and minimalist writing apps these days, but you pay for the privilege.