Add custom fonts to Ulysses

The Soulmen GbR recently released an update to the iOS version of industrial strength text editor Ulysses which, among a plethora of other nice new features, notably added support for smaller screens like the iPhone. Enhanced synchronization through iCloud is also vastly better than ever before, so needless to say I was all teary-eyed with joy about this update. One feature caught my eye in particular, namely the option to add your own custom fonts. And so our story begins.

I am an incurable font addict, and the prospect of getting to customize the writing experience on such a fundamental level instantly spoke to me, and in a loud voice at that. However, the instructions I found on the f.a.q. page for doing so was a little on the flaky side:

How do I add fonts to the app?
Simply open a font file (.otf, .ttf, or .dfont) with Ulysses. The fonts are automatically imported into the app. You can also open a .zip file that contains multiple font files. For instance, try the font Courier Prime!

I didn’t get much wiser reading the blog post on the same subject either:

Ulysses’ default font ist Menlo, but you can change it to any system font. Alternatively, you can add a custom font just by opening an OTF or TTF file in Ulysses.

I wrote an e-mail to the Soulmen in order to investigate further, but before I got a reply* I had success installing some fonts in Ulysses on my iPad through iCloud. A new blog post was in order. I know, you’re welcome.

*I got a nice reply today, which admittedly was considerably more understandable:

Just go where you have the font file, i.e. in an e-mail or stored in the cloud, and double-tap or tap and hold. You’ll be prompted with options what to do with it. Choose Ulysses, and it will get installed.

However, I still feel that there’s room for a considerably more informative set of instructions on this topic, so without further ado, here goes:

  • E-mail
    You can e-mail the .ttf, .otf, .dfont (not tested by me) or .zip file(s) to yourself. Depending on which e-mail app you are using, there may be some trial and error in getting the pop-up dialog window where you can choose “Copy to Ulysses” to show (usually long-pressing or “Share” option, three dots icon (…), “Open in app” etc.), but once this is accomplished, the rest is smooth sailings. I tested this in Mail (Apple), Airmail and Spark. Feel free to elaborate in the comments.
  • Cloud
    I have tested Dropbox, iCloud, Box.net, Google Drive and CloudApp, and here are the results from the Norwegian jury: Forget Dropbox for this. I had no luck no matter what I did in getting Dropbox to open the file and offer any “Open in…” options. In Dropbox, you have to select the file (no preview will be available), select the square-with-an-upward-pointing-arrow “share” icon and look for the Open in… App Store icon in the bottom row of the pop-up, then choose “Copy to Ulysses”. Google Drive offers a similar procedure. I discovered both the Dropbox and Google Drive methods after searching a lot of different blogs on this particular subject. iCloud on the other hand was a breeze. It actually provides several different methods to get the file to “open” and offer up the “Copy to Ulysses” option. CloudApp worked fine, but they don’t have any official iPad app. I used ClouDrop and everything worked after a minimum of poking around after the three dots icon (…). Box.net was a breeze to use, and represents the most intuitive way to add custom fonts to Ulysses of all the methods in my “test”. The most common denominator seems to be the “Share” icon and/or the “…” icon (which I can only assume is a kind of iconography for the word “more”).
  • FTP
    I have a directory on my FTP server that I sometimes use as a convenient way to “send” large files or store things that I want fast and easy access to through the browser. I dropped a .zip archive with the magnificent Cousine* font in that directory, and (using Safari) immediately got the “Open in …” option flanked by “Open in Ulysses” to the right (which I assume was the result of repeatedly opening font files in Ulysses). The only drawback with this method seems to be that you would normally have to remember the complete path and file name+type. I do not recommend editing your .htaccess file or directory listing policies for this. That said, it was very easy to install custom fonts in Ulysses by way of an FTP server.

The verdict: It’s a tie between Box.net and e-mail. These two are at this time at a tie for being the easiest (or less difficult) ways to install custom fonts in Ulysses for iOS. Now go write something great, in a beautiful font (or vice versa).

UPDATE

I eventually found myself in a situation where I wanted to get rid of some of my newly self-installed fonts. Luckily, all you have to do to accomplish this is to open the settings tab in Ulysses (iOS), swipe left and press “Delete”. Now that is the kind of intuitive functionality that matches the use of Ulysses (and iOS) itself, and no web search required.

*Cousine is a beautiful, free monospaced font by Ascender Fonts with normal, italic, bold and bold italic weights. It shares some similarities with the Nitti font by Bold Monday.

EDIT (June 15th 2016)

Ulysses was named as one of the Apple Design Award winners at the WWDC monday night (June 13th 2016), and deservedly so. Congratulations are in order, so CHEERS!

 
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Hidden treasures

OK, the following software recommendations are not really “hidden”, but I’m taking the opportunity to point out some excellent free or affordable software gems that should be a part of your everyday digital arsenal for an elevated OS X experience.

First out is TextWrangler. Bare Bones Software, the makers of legendary text editor BBEdit, offer a slimmed down, lightweight sibling of its flagship application for free, namely TextWrangler. That’s right, for free. This app is a wonderful tool for all your text-based note/snippet/jotting tasks, and it harbors a lot of editing power under the hood. One of my absolute favorite features is its left sidebar where you optionally can store a list of your opened files for quick access.

There are numerous tweaks that you can apply to the user interface and it supports a lot of different color coded syntax markings if you dabble in coding. If you like to work with plain text files, TextWrangler is a no-brainer, and the only real drawback is that it has no iOS sibling to sync with. You can make syncing work by utilizing a custom Dropbox folder and use another Dropbox enabled iOS text editor, but it takes some setup on your part.

You can get TextWrangler for free both from Bare Bones Software and in the Mac App Store.

The second app I will point out is Caffeine. It’s a neat little app that does one thing and one thing only; it prevents your Mac from going to sleep. Your typical setup is to have it launch with the system and leave its nifty little icon in the menu bar. Click to fill the coffee cup and your Mac stays awake. Click to empty it, and your Mac will go to sleep as normal. That’s really all there is to it. Caffeine is free, both from Lighthead (developer) and in the Mac App Store.

Dropbox has become more or less of a standard cloud solution due to its easy setup and near flawless integration. Even though there are several competitors that offer more free space and similar features, Dropbox has managed to be the preferred service to a vast number of users. You get 2 GB free space on signup, and you can get more free space by connecting apps, completing certain tasks and getting friends to sign up by your referral. The maximum free space you can get by inviting friends is 16 GB, which is quite a lot if you use the storage wisely and employ a minimal level of maintenance.

Get your Dropbox account here (see what I did there? 😉

Coming up: Wunderlist, Evernote, Simplenote, OneNote, Cyberduck, OnyX, NeoOffice and more!

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MarsEdit 20% off until Tuesday June 9th 2015

MarsEdit, the wildly popular Mac blog editing tool from Red Sweather, is on a time limited discount courtesy of Smile Software’s Smileworthy program (they make some pretty sweet software as well). Ending June 9th, you can grab MarsEdit for 20% off using the coupon code smileworthy on checkout.

This blog post was written in MarsEdit, which supports a wide variety of blog systems including WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, TypePad, Movable Type and more.

Oh, and did I mention that it supports John Gruber’s Markdown language? And that’s just one of its many sweet spots.

Go grab it now!

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New post category promoting special offers

I have realized that throughout the years, I have aquired a tremendous knowledge of different types of software on the Mac/OS X (and iOS) platforms, covering all kinds of different areas. Naturally, graphic design software is a particular strength of mine, but as I use my Mac for a vast variety of (other) stuff as well, I know and use a bucketload of different apps for different tasks and uses.

As a result of my curiosity for new software, I get a lot of promotional e-mail through newsletters and general promotions. Therefore, I am starting this new category of posts where you can find coupons, codes and notifications on great discounts that I endorse. Nothing gets on here if I don’t know the software and can personally recommend it.

So, enjoy these promotions, get to know some great apps and live h-Apple-y ever after!

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Outline – Mac App Tip #2

OneNote editor for OS X Outline is now offering creation and editing of Microsoft OneNote notes. Yes, you heard me; CREATION and EDITING. That is good news for everyone that have been waiting for Redmond to get off their butts and make an OS X version of their otherwise excellent note-taking app included in the Windows version of Office. What’s more, it is slightly more elegant both in design and functionality (subjective, I know) and is far easier to connect to Microsoft’s own SkyDrive than OneNote is (on Windows). I had to fiddle quite a lot around before I got OneNote to function properly in regards to syncing. Not so with Outline. It’s a matter of connecting (in seconds) and then forgetting about it.

Before Outline, I had resorted to using Curio which has similar functionality but a hefty price tag to boot – a fine piece of software, but sadly no easy way to set up syncing and, sadly, no iOS companion app either.

Outline works flawlessly (apart from the odd crashing bug when deleting old sample notes) and is $45 on the MAS.

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Delineato Pro – Mac App Tip #1

There’s currently a brand new diagramming and mindmapping app in the MAS (Mac App Store) called Delineato Pro, developed by small software outfits named Fapptory Lda. and Wow!Systems LLC, that’s incredibly promising. Having used MindNode Pro for several years now, I must admit that, given the numbers of competitors on this market that don’t cut the mustard, I really didn’t expect to find a true rival to MindNode Pro any time soon.

Delineato Pro sports a deliciously simple and uncluttered interface, resembling the stripped down, bare bones approach taken by word processors like Byword, iA Writer, WriteRoom, OmmWriter and many more. To add a new item, just double click anywhere on the infinite canvas and choose your item type. If you already have existing items on your canvas, you can easily drag out clones from those items. Lines/arrows are automatically added, and you can change line type, color, thickness, arrow head style and so forth by double clicking the lines/arrows.

Delineato (Italian for outline) Pro supports Apple’s iCloud storage service. You can check out their teaser video here.

Delineato Pro’s feature list, as posted on the app website, is as follows:

  • Infinite canvas size
  • Fullscreen mode and Retina-display
  • Drop any image from the Desktop or other app
  • Edit directly, drag-and-drop shapes and connectors from a palette
  • Dark mysterious mood or Light grey stylish mood
  • Grid, smart alignment guides, smart resizing guides
  • Share to Facebook, Twitter, E-mail, iMessage, Airdrop, Flickr
  • Export transparent or opaque diagrams as PDF, PNG, EPS, JPG, TIFF, BMP, GIF

The app has been getting a lot of positive press lately, and seems definitely destined for greater things (and further development), like an iOS companion app (with iCloud sync) etc.

Delineato Pro is by no means an OmniGraffle-killer, nor does it claim (or aim) to be, as the latter is a considerably more robust, feature-rich, sophisticated, expensive and somewhat clunky beast to wrestle. They are simply put not aimed at the same market.

Delineato Pro is currently in version 1.0.2 and carries a modest price tag of $6.99 in the MAS. A free, cut down version (less features) is said to currently be undergoing the MAS approval process, and thus supposedly will be available some time in our near future.

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