Noel Rappin Writes Here

Elements, and other iPad Text Editor Stuff

Posted on August 18, 2010

I have something like eight different apps on my iPad which are text editors or note takers of one form or another. Plus I know of at least one more that I’m waiting for.

It’s possible I have a problem.

I really want to be able to use my iPad as a writing tool – the best apps are super responsive, and I like the ergonomics of using it with the Bluetooth keyboard. Making the iPad a useful writing or editing tool makes it much more useful for me.

Which brings me to Elements, the latest in my string of writing apps. (The name comes from Strunk & White’s Elements of Style). Elements is a text editor that backs to your Dropbox account, in many ways similar to DropText.

There are a couple of differences:

  • Elements does not expose your entire Dropbox, instead it maintains its own folder and synchronizes it. This is a big DropText advantage, since one of my big use cases involves using files that are already stored elsewhere in my Dropbox.

  • Elements is limited to text files. And I mean really limited. If you put a file with an extension other than .txt in the Elements folder from another machine, Elements will ignore it. Another big problem for me, since it means I can’t edit book files from Elements without pre-placing them in the Elements folder and change their names before I start.

That said, I like Elements for its other features.

  • Elements supports TextExpander. Yay. All the HTML tags in this post are thankful. (Of course I’m writing this in Elements…)

  • Elements auto-syncs back to Dropbox every minute or so. Droptext, I think, requires a manual save.

  • Elements allows you to change font and font size. Double yay. (One setting for all files.) I like messing with fonts, and I normally prefer a larger size than most applications provide by default. Especially in my normal iPad typing position.

  • You can email your file out, which makes it a plausible blog tool via WordPress to email.

  • It maintains a word count overlay, which is handy.

  • It has a little scratch pad, which I think is common to all files, and doesn’t seem to by synched. Still, I suppose it’s kind of dandyish.

  • Subjectively, it feels more polished than Droptext (it’s also more expensive). The UI is a little cleaner.

So… Elements seems to be a nice tool for my blog use case, but a lot of other uses I have require general access to Dropbox. (Though I suppose it’ll depend on whatever Scrivener’s Dropbox support eventually looks like). So far, though, I like it.

Still waiting for the great programmer’s editor, though. Or even the one that looks good enough to try…


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Copyright 2024 Noel Rappin

All opinions and thoughts expressed or shared in this article or post are my own and are independent of and should not be attributed to my current employer, Chime Financial, Inc., or its subsidiaries.