The iPad has inspired a whole generation of focused writing apps. The included Notes app is a nice way to jot down quick notes, while Pages gives you most of the features of Word or Pages on a Mac, right on your iPad. Then, apps like iA Writer: An Astonishingly Simple Way to Write | iPad.AppStorm and Simplenote give you a focused, distraction free environment to write in plain text.
There’s still two things that aren’t very convenient in most writing apps: researching info and writing formatted text or HTML. Writing Kit is a new app that excels at both of these. With an included browser and research pane, you can lookup the definition of a word or copy text from a website without having to switch back to a browser. You can also quickly write Markdown formatted text, then save it in a variety of formats or export as HTML. Let’s take a closer look at what it has to offer.
A Kit to Make Writing Simpler
Sometimes you need to add features to get everything you need out of an app. I’m a big fan of focused writing apps, and use iA Writer daily for writing long pieces of text. But, there are many times when I need to create formatted text, or research information while I’m writing. That’s when most other writing apps come short.
Writing Kit solves this problem by integrating both rich Markdown support and a high-quality simplistic browser that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. Right in the main app, you can tap the flask on the top right of the toolbar, and do a quick DuckDuckGo search for anything you’re looking for. If you need to dig further, open a full browser window in Writing Kit by tapping the compass icon. The browser is based on Cyberspace, and offers a clean browsing experience that makes it easy to do quick research.
Simple Writing, Anywhere
When it comes down to writing your document, though, the most important thing is to be able to quickly get your text entered without distraction. Writing Kit has two unique features that make this easy. First, the on-screen virtual keyboard lets you add formatting to your document with a simple tap. The formatting will be added in Markdown format, which can be easily exported to HTML and more.
Then, you can quickly move your cursor around the document from the sides of the document. Just tap on the right margin with on finger to go forward a character, or with two fingers to go forward a word. Tapping the same on the left goes back. And, if you have text selected, tapping in the margins selects the next characters, making it easy to grab the text you need to format. It’s simple and incredibly easy to use. And if your text is too small for comfort, just pinch to zoom in or out. You can also pick from standard fonts to view your text the way that looks best to you.
Writing Kit works great with an external keyboard as well. The standard on-screen keyboard will minimize, but the formatting bar will stay on the bottom of the screen. You can quickly select text you’ve entered with standard keyboard shortcuts, such as holding Shift while using the arrow keys to select the text you want. Then, just tap the formatting buttons on the bottom to add the formatting you need.
Take Your Documents Further
If you want to go beyond formatting your text, Writing Kit also lets you add links and images to your documents. You can add images from links, or upload them directly to your CloudApp account. You’ll first need to open Writing Kit’s settings in the Settings app on your iPad, and add your CloudApp account. Then, just tap the image icon, and upload your image directly. When you share your document later, everything will be ready for your images, text, and more to look perfect.
Saving and Sharing Your Writing
Once you’ve finished writing your masterpiece, Writing Kit gives you a variety of ways to share it. If you’ve formatted your document in Markdown and added images, you might like to see what it looks like before you publish it. Tap the eye icon on the top right to see a full preview of the rendered HTML with your images and formatting.
Then, you can export your document in a number of ways. Writing Kit lets you post your Markdown formatted page as a new post to your Tumblr or Posterous blog, or you can email the rich text as a fully formatted email. Mail in iOS doesn’t let you include any formatting, so this is an awesome way to create rich emails from your iPad. Then, you can export the plain text, Markdown code or file, HTML code or file, copy the contents of the document, open it in another app, or print it.