What it is: There are two different word processors on the market today, Scrivener and Ulysses, that are alternatives to traditional word processors.
Traditional word processors like Microsoft Word have two problems. First, they’re designed to format text for printing. Second, they’re designed to focus on writing one document at a time. Pages is Apple’s free word processor that isn’t as powerful as Word, but because it’s free, it can be a decent alternative if you don’t need heavy duty word processing such as automatic indexing, mail merge, and macros.
Pages is basically a simpler version of Word but still focuses on printing and showing one document at a time. That’s why there are two alternative word processors that are gaining popularity called Scrivener and Ulysses. The main feature of both programs is that where a single Word file only contains one document, a single Scrivener or Ulysses file can contain multiple documents. This lets you organize multiple, related documents in one location.
To duplicate this in Word or Pages, you have to create separate folders on your hard disk, which risks losing or misplacing files. Both Scrivener and Ulysses let you create separate folders within your file so you can organize related documents together and work on whichever document you wish without losing track of anything.
By letting you store text in separate documents within a single file, both Scrivener and Ulysses make it far easier to work on large projects such as a book. Since you can combine your separate documents together in different ways, you can easily rearrange your text and selectively choose which text to print or not. Also since both programs aren’t solely designed for printing on paper, they can easily create ebooks. Since many people don’t print documents as much as they share them electronically, Word’s focus on print while ignoring ebook creation is a minor but growing flaw.
The bottom line is that traditional word processors like Word and Pages are archaic compared to more modern word processors like Scrivener and Ulysses. Not surprisingly, both programs started out on the Macintosh and evolved to iOS as well. Scrivener, unlike Ulysses, is also developing a Windows version of their program but the shift away from Windows and print is already apparent in the focus of both programs.
It’s easy to understand how to use a traditional word processor but a little more difficult to understand how Scrivener and Ulysses work because of the different focus. Still, if you’re a writer, take time to learn either Scrivener or Ulysses and you’ll quickly see how they make Word and Pages obsolete. If you just want casual word processing, Pages is fine. If you want more heavy duty word processing, Word is fine. However if you want an organizational program to make writing easier, try Scrivener or Ulysses. Then you can always export your text from either program and polish it in Word if necessary.
Both programs can work alone or in conjunction with Word or Pages. Once you try Scrivener or Ulysses, you’ll see the huge limitation of traditional word processors and you’ll never want to go back.