iOS App Review: WordEver HD

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A new editor was recently added to iTextEditors that I had to check out. It’s called WordEver HD (iPad only), a full-screen text editor with some rather brilliant features which build nicely on some predecessors work.

First — because it’s so important to me, personally — it has Markdown support. Not just Markdown, but Markdown with all the extensions, including tables and fenced code blocks. It also features TextExpander support, so you can use my iOS Markdown group (or any other snippets) easily.

The keyboard

The most interesting part of the application, though, is the custom keyboard and gesture-based navigation. The keyboard is dark with large keys, and its opacity can be adjusted using zoom in and out gestures. You can also drag a handle on the left to change its height. Tapping a “123” button in the upper right corner reveals a numeric keypad for quick number entry.

To make a capital letter on this keyboard, you just flick up on the key. a double-tap on shift turns on Caps Lock, which you’re probably already used to on the standard keyboard. You can also enable keyboard sounds, if you want.

The top row of the keyboard is configurable, a la Nebulous Notes and some others. It comes with some default settings, and you can press and hold any key in the row to add your own frequently-used characters. The quote, parenthesis and bracket keys all support pairing around selections, and smart open close, so you can use the same key to start a parenthetical as you do to end it, for example.

Cursor movement and selection

Next up is gesture support for cursor movement. Like some other ingenious apps – including WriteUp and Textastic – cursor movement and text selection is simple and fast. Tapping in the margins moves the cursor one character right or left (a technique pioneered by1 Writings, and also found in Daedalus Touch, PlainText, WriteRoom, Writing Kit and probably others). Two-finger taps in the margin move by word. Drag two fingers around the screen to accurately scroll the cursor in any direction. Dragging in the margins selects text by line, making it simple to select full paragraphs or an entire section.

Zoom out on selected text (pinch in) to cut it, and zoom in to paste it at the cursor location. This makes it quite intuitive to move paragraphs and sections around in your document. Not quite as easy as Phraseology’s system, but still quite smart.

Appearance

There are three color schemes to choose from: light, dark and sepia. Additionally, there are multiple fonts to choose from. All of the fonts, however, are monospace. For me, that’s great; I always work with monospace fonts when writing in Markdown, and Menlo is an option so I’m quite happy. If you prefer working with Helvetica or any of the more visually appealing serif fonts available, you’re out of luck.

Interface

The file browser can be set to the left or right side, and easily hidden with a tap for full-screen editing. There’s a word count unobtrusively visible in the right margin, and tapping it shows character, word, lines and paragraph counts, as well as reading time and cursor position.

Below that, if you’re editing a Markdown document, there’s a Markdown logo that will quickly open the Markdown preview. The preview isn’t style-able, but it’s not bad looking and does the job nicely.

At the bottom of the right margin there are easily-accessible undo and redo buttons, which I always appreciate in an iOS text editor. Please don’t make me shake my iPad.

Sync and export

WordEver syncs via iCloud, Dropbox and iTunes, and can copy text, styled text and HTML source to the clipboard. It can also sync PDF output to iTunes, or email it as an attachment.

Without an iPhone version or a desktop companion, the iCloud sync isn’t terribly useful yet. Hopefully there will be some more options in that area soon.

I was unable to try out Dropbox sync, as the permissions screen in Dropbox told me that a “limited set of users can receive access tokens while this app is in development mode.” I definitely hope this is fixed soon, as a lack of Dropbox sync heavily impairs the usefulness of any text editor for me. I did note that the file menu allows for a force save/sync with Dropbox without waiting for autosave, which would make it nice for use with Marked on the desktop, as well as other destinations.

Wish list

Aside from the sync issues mentioned above, there’s not a lot missing for me. I’d love to see smart list continuation and a custom CSS option for Markdown preview and output. Beyond that, this is a solid offering for a new editor. I look forward to seeing it grow further in the future.

Check out WordEver on the iTunes App Store where it’s currently available at a special introductory price of $1.99 US (60% off).

  1. Decided after some debate