Friday, December 30, 2011

WriteRoom on iPad: Search Done Wrong

- Tuesday 3 January 2012, 02:06:50 PM: WriteRoom (on iPad) actually does have margin tapping virtual cursor keys.

I use WriteRoom on my iPad and iPhone every day. As a straight text editor (as opposed to say a rich text editor or code editor), it is excellent. It syncs with Dropbox in the background. It has TextExpander support. It has a simple and functional UI that intelligently uses the iPad's larger screen real estate. Also on the iPad, it has a great strip of helper keys on top of the keyboard; this strip can be customised and includes cursor left/right by default.

But now that I have 20+ relatively LARGE files that I use regularly for different purposes, search is becoming more important. I am going to switch editors if Hog Bay Software do not get a decent search function into WriteRoom.

Search currently does nothing except narrow down the file list to show only those files whose text includes the search term. For every day use, this is almost USELESS. Search should highlight matching terms in the current file and give you next/previous buttons. It should also offer you the ability to use regular expressions.

Don't get me wrong: searching across multiple files is good - as a secondary function. Rarely do I need that, and if I do, it should still offer the same functionality as regular search: regex, highlight, next/previous buttons.

For a different view (that doesn't mention my qualms about search but does criticise handling of folders), here is an excellent review of this app: WriteRoom: Getting iPad Writing Right by William Deal.

As a side note, I was reading Charlie Sorrel's review of Scribe (another text editor for iOS): Scribe, an iPad Text Editor With HTML, Markdown for the iPad on Charlie mentions another cool feature that WriteRoom on iPad has - and which Scribe doesn't have. Quote: a single tap in the margin to move the cursor one character at a time. It’s like virtual cursor keys, and works way better than Apple’s way to move the cursor (tap, hold, drag, pray). Cursor left/right keys are great - but this mechanism is greater still.