Hands on with Elements 2.0 for iOS

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Norman McLean was haunted by waters. I’m haunted by iOS (s aapL) text editors. I usually switch between Pages, PlainText and Elements. Elements, recently updated to version 2, stands a chance at having the biggest impact on my writing workflow.

Plays better with others

Elements introduces a ton of exporting/publishing features with the latest update. Now you can send your files as e-mails (inline or as an attachment), publish directly to Tumblr and Facebook, and send to Evernote or iTunes. My personal site is hosted on Tumblr and I use Evernote a lot, so I love those features in particular, but all of those listed alleviate the pain of getting files off your iPad.

New publishing options in Elements.

My only problem with exporting/sharing/publishing is that the new selections are limited, and buried under confusing menu choices. Choosing Export lets you send the file to Dropbox, Evernote, and iTunes, but only as an HTML or PDF (s adbe) file. I think Elements would be great in a classroom where the full-screen, no frills interface is perfect for capturing lecture notes, and Evernote is a great repository for class notes and materials. But being limited to exporting only HTML or PDF files is a hassle. The workaround to sending text to your Evernote account is to use Element’s inline e-mail feature to send the note to your Evernote address.Sending files to other services needs to be consolidated. Instead of choosing export, PDF, and then Evernote within Elements, it would work better if I chose export, Evernote, and then the format (and create a text note needs to be there).

Element continues to support Markdown, however, making it an excellent general editor for blog posts. Also, the app developer is looking into support of Markdown formatting when you export a PDF file. If this feature is implemented, it may become best way to create a file with footnotes.

Final thoughts

Right now, I’m using Pages as my editor of choice for iOS and OS X because of the ease of using the same file on both platforms and because iCloud will allow me to seamlessly (I hope) sync files in the background. Am I going to change to Elements thanks to this major update? Pages is still likely to be my go-to tool for general use, but for Tumblr posts and Evernote entries, Elements gets the nod. This is also still a basic plain text editing tool. There are zero formatting features. No bold or italics, no paragraph styles. For my needs, this is fine. If you need to bold files without using Markdown, this is not the tool for you. Still, Elements looks like the easiest way to get text into a format I’m going to want to quickly get at on my desktop thanks to its new sharing features, which at least merits a spot on my primary home page.

Forced Dropbox usage for basic file systems remains a downside. I’d much prefer if the app stored files in its own sandbox first, and then integrated with Dropbox as an option. I’ll have to suck it up with Dropbox, though, at least until Elements incorporates the upcoming iCloud document syncing feature. Elements looks like the easiest way to get text into a format I’m going to want to quickly get at on my desktop. I expect iCloud to have a huge impact on iOS text editors on the whole, so I can’t wait to see what developers do with it when it arrives this fall.

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I use Simplenote and it works almost flawlessly for notes. It doesn’t have markdown but will sync with Dropbox if you wish. Although it will sync with your Simplenote account regardless, and to all your other devices. Just like magic. And the price is right.

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