Compared to our measurements, we have received like a zillion inquiries lately that asked us when an iPad version of Ulysses will be available. First things first, here’s the answer: We have no clue…
This does not sound too promising, I guess, but let me explain. We are having major technical and/or legal problems. All of Ulysses can easily be realized on the iPhone — except one part: Ulysses’ heart. Semantic text editing.
More precisely, the whole problem resolves around on single issue: Displaying styled text while editing it. We need this ability to display the styles, which is the core of our concept. Everything builds on top of it. Apple greatly improved in the iPhone OS 3.2 on what is possible for text editing, however there are still major parts missing. Currently, we see two ways we could do the coloring:
1) The hacky way: We observed that the text editing view in iPhone OS is actually a web view. A web view which edits and displays HTML. HTML which we can get access to. Access we can use to modify the structure and styling and hence add colors, etc.
The Problem: Private API. Each of the steps I just described is private API. And you know what that means. Bummer.
2) The legal way: New to iPhone OS 3.2 is an advanced text rendering engine, CoreText. This does nothing but display text, but it does it well. And there is the ability to directly grab the keyboard input.
The Problem: All the rest. We would basically have to re-write ALL user interaction! Text selection, text loupe, copy and paste, spell checking, etc. All these things are missing. Even worse, while we could eventually implement all of these, we will never be as sophisticated as Apple. I bet they used a couple of man-years to implement this stuff, no power we have. Ulysses would always feel like an alien on the iPad. If you know the level of quality we require from our products, you know that we’d never go for such a solution.
And this is the mess we are in. We have – right now – an implemented working version of the first approach. We also have an implementation of the second one – except of all the nice user interaction you’d naturally expect. I will be going to WWDC next week and talk to some guys at Apple. I hope they will have good news for me, but I’m afraid they won’t.
We would sooo love to do Ulysses on the iPad. 1) is that Apple would not let us, 2) is too much effort for producing average results. We know no other way. Let us hear what you think! We’d like to discuss this issue with you!