Scrivener vs Ulysses III: How I Chose Between Them

2014-07-22 - Scrivener.png

There are literally hundreds of posts out there that review, contrast and compare the two professional writing applications Ulysses and Scrivener. This post IS NOT another post about these tools. Instead I am going to write about WHY I chose one of these tools over the other.


But before I explain why, I should talk about why I was looking for a tool like one of these in the first place. I have several things in my life right now that are placing more demands on my writing capabilities:

  1. Papers and projects for my Masters Degree in Systems Engineering
  2. In-depth write-ups and papers for work
  3. I am starting to write a Sci-Fi graphic novel

The Mac App Store is running a promotion right now called "Explore Your Creativity". As part of the promotion they are featuring a number of applications and Ulysses III and Scrivener are two of those apps. Both Ulysses III and Scrivener are on sale in the Mac App Store for half price. Apple isn't saying how long the promotion is going to run. I've seem some reports that it might end as soon as July 24th. Either way, it is a limited time promotion so if you want to take advantage of it you need to act fast.

I did quite a bit of searching and reading online about these two tools before I made my decision. I knew I needed something to help me tackle all the writing I needed to do in the coming months, but which one? There wasn't a lot of content out there on the web about WHY someone chose one tool over the other, so here is why I made my choice.

Scrivener was the "winner" for the following reasons:

  1. It has Math type for when I write for work and do homework projects for my maters degree in Systems Engineering
  2. It has a research organizational tool built-in
  3. Has a "virtual corkboard" for layout of my graphic novel sections before it is written
  4. I'm not ready to trust iCloud for projects as big and as important as my 1st novel or a major engineering paper or project. I can't afford to lose hundreds or thousands of hours to an iCloud failure and Apple's cloud computing hasn't earned my trust yet.

Scrivener is the OmniFocus of writing tools while Ulysses III (while still very powerful) is more of a simple "get out of your way" tool that lets you write. Both approaches have advantages. For me I don't mind using a complex tool and spending a little time up front learning how to use it so I have more options as I am working with it later on. Scrivener has an excellent tutorial that comes with it, but if you don't go through the tutorial you are going to be hard pressed to use even a fraction of the features that Scrivener has. On the other hand, Ulysses III has very limited documentation but it's not as complex either. I spent some time this past weekend going through the entire Scrivener tutorial and I can safely say I made the right choice of tool.

If your needs are not quite as demanding as mine and you value having your writing with you at all times in the cloud then Ulysses III might be a better choice for you. Ulysses III is also going to be a better choice for people who absolutely hate reading a user's manual before using something (because there isn't one).

Hope this helps...

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