I hate that I love Writer

I absolutely hate that I love Information ArchitectsWriter. Every time I use it I get a little angry inside because I just love it! Weird, I know, but true nonetheless. It’s just so plain but so great that I get all these funny feelings about it, which always resolves to an envious kind of adoration.

I have followed iA fervently for as long as I’ve known about them. They are, to me, a beacon of what is good about this industry; they’re an inspirational agency and one that I love. So, when I heard that they were working on an iPad app I was immediately interested. They’d set the bar pretty high with their other work, but I had equally high hopes and expectations.

Anyway, the day the app went on sale I bought it. At £2.99 it’s relatively pricey in app terms, but (as I tend to do more often than not) I reasoned that £3 is less than one pint, so actually pretty reasonable.

I fired it up and saw pretty much nothing, which I guess is the point, but I did feel a little ‘Oh, anti-climax…’ I tinkered with it for a few minutes, idly typing nothings, deleting them, then typing some more. It was pretty mediocre. Or so I thought…

As I’d only been typing dummy text I’d not really used it properly, or to its full potential. I didn’t see the point, nor did I reap the benefits. That evening, lying in bed, I reached for my iPad and started drafting an article. That’s when it hit me. Writer is awesome!

When you start using it properly you realise that its stark UI and outward lack of features is a wealth of features in itself. Writer makes writing so easy, and it honestly seems to come more naturally. It’s a genuine breath of fresh air for anyone who is used to writing on a computer.

I hate word processors with a passion. They’re horrible, horrible things. On this basis I tend(ed) to draft any articles in my text-editor, Notepad++. It strips out all the stuff I don’t need and leaves just me, the canvas and the letters. Oh and all those icons in the UI. And the nastily long line-length. And the awkward look of code-sized type as prose…

Writer is so amazingly simple, and that’s why it annoys me. How can something so simple be so fantastic?! It just doesn’t make sense! I paid almost-a-beer for something that does nothing! Yet it allows me to do everything. I get a little shocked, too, every time I use Writer; I get shocked that each time I open it up I am met with the same sparse interface, and yet the removal of nigh on everything allows me to do whatever I want. It clears the mind and allows the text to just spill onto the ‘page’.

Since buying Writer I have written up every CSS Wizardry article in it. Right now, as I type this, I’m slouched in my chair, listening to music, sipping a beer and just writing. Writer is the perfect app for the iPad. It’s using something very comfortable and ergonomic on something very comfortable and ergonomic. Genius.

I’ve always said that there are fewer things more complex than making something more simple, yet iA have nailed it. This idea is so simple yet so well executed that I get the oh so familiar ‘why didn’t I think of that?!’, and this is what annoys me. A huge well-done to Oliver et al. Writer is a masterpiece.

So, if you have an iPad and write a blog, articles, short stories or anything, do yourself a favour and buy Writer–see if it pisses you off too ;)


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Hi there, I’m Harry. I am an award-winning Consultant Front-end Architect, designer, developer, writer and speaker from the UK. I write, tweet, speak and share code about authoring and scaling CSS for big websites. You can hire me.


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