A new app that’s creating a lot of buzz lately is Editorial—a plain text editor for the iPad from Pythonista developer Ole Zorn with powerful automation tools, an inline preview for writing Markdown, and yes, a built-in Python editor. If you’re not familiar, Python is an Open Source programming language designed to help you work more quickly and integrate your systems more effectively. Markdown is a plain text-to-HTML conversion tool developed by John Gruber that allows you to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML).
Christine Chan of AppAdvice calls Editorial “The Swiss Army Knife Of iPad Text Editors.” MacDrifter’s Gabe declares it “A Landmark in iOS Text Editors.” The Verge’s Jeff Blagdon says it’s “the new text editor to beat.”
Editorial is so good, says Cult of Mac’s Charlie Sorrel, that “it might just make you ditch your computer altogether as a writing machine” and switch to writing on the iPad, since in his estimation it may be the best text editor available on any platform. That’s certainly a ringing endorsement given the iPad’s angularities as a writing platform, whether or not you use it with an external keyboard.
With Editorial, users can combine a large selection of simple text processing actions into their individual workflows using an intuitive, three-panel swipable drag and drop interface that makes it easy to see what’s happening, even when things get complex.
The Python interpreter is also at your fingertips, including modules for easily accessing the editor’s text, the iOS clipboard, or even your photo library. Editorial is claimed to be the first fully-scriptable writing app on the iOS.
In order to make writing on the iPad more efficient, you have the advanced workflow system, as well as an extended Markdown keyboard that gives you quick access to all the special characters you need and that doubles as a gesture area for positioning the cursor. The one-tap outline feature lets you quickly jump between different sections of your document and check the current word count. You can track your progress by comparing different versions of your documents in Dropbox, or restore a part that you’ve deleted accidentally.
- Inline Markdown Preview – When you write in Markdown, you can see a basic preview of your markup right within the editor. You can always swipe left to see a full HTML preview. If you prefer really plain text, you can, of course, turn this off.
- Extensible with Workflows – Almost 50 configurable actions can be combined into powerful workflows for extending Editorial’s feature set. And if that’s not enough, you can write your own actions with Python. Because many standard actions like Send Email are actually workflows in Editorial, you can easily tweak them to match your preferences.
- Scriptable with Python – You can make use of a full Python interpreter in your workflows. Editorial comes with tons of modules for processing text, images, or even data from web APIs, and you also have scripting access to the editor itself from Python. Scripts can be integrated in workflows, but there’s also an interactive prompt and a scratchpad for quick one-off scripts.
- Full Documentation – Editorial comes with a complete set of documentation for all the different workflow actions and Python modules. It’s fully integrated, so you can look up things directly from the workflow and Python editors.
- Sync with Dropbox – In addition to storing documents on your iPad, you can sync them with your Dropbox account.
- Dropbox Version Browser – When you sync with Dropbox, you can access older versions of a document, and even compare them with a built-in diff viewer.
- Smart Keyboard – The extended keyboard row was specifically designed for writing Markdown and includes all the special characters you need. It also allows you to position the cursor precisely with a swipe gesture.
- In-App Browser – If you want to do some quick research while writing, you don’t have to leave the app for that. The in-app browser is even integrated with the workflow system, so that you can build workflows that use the current page in various ways.
- Interactive Prompt for Python – If you’re new to Python or want to try out something quickly, the interactive prompt is always available. Just enter a line of code and run it. It’ll help you with powerful code completion and a history of your previous commands.
- Dark Theme -Working at night? You might want to try the dark theme which changes the colors in the entire app, even in parts like the documentation or Python editor.