Sweaty Spice, the other Spice Girl

I like to blog. Have been doing it pretty consistently for more than a decade, on a variety of platforms. Lately, I have been keen on using Ghost for my publishing, while I still have several properties that run Wordpress.

On the Mac, there is a fabulous offline software for writing that seamlessly allows me to compose in markdown, and it connects directly to Ghost to publish. It is polished, full featured, and sadly, Mac only. Ulysses is a world class authoring environment, and people actually use it to draft books. But, as far as I can tell, there is no Windows equivalent.

Doing searching for writing apps on Windows that people compare to Ulysses all seem to come to Scrivener. There is a free trial, and yes it is impressive, but it isn't a "get out of the way and write in Markdown" application. I was bummed. Knowing that Ghost uses the Koenig editor (its original versions were straight up Markdown, but that limited some of the advanced formatting options demanded by the "creative class" whatever the fuck that is.)

But then I discovered a workaround. One of my properties had posts from the original Ghost, in Markdown. In the later versions, that raw markdown was encapsulated into a Koenig "block" for markdown. These old posts had a Mailchimp call to action (subscribe to a mailer) that I needed to remove. So I began opening them up, and removing the raw HTML of the Mailchimp form. Then I decided to try something.

I copied the whole markdown text, and then pasted it into the Koenig editor.

And it just worked. Long story short, I went back and converted all 100+ of my old posts to native Koenig, removing the Mailchimp CTA's and inserted a pleading to subscribe to the blog.

But this gave me an idea. Find a good offline Markdown editor for Windows, and use that to compose my posts without being tied to the Ghost back end editor.

Off to the Windows Store

Searching for Markdown editors was cumbersome. A ton of free ones, but they were primitive, and feature poor. A handful of very inexpensive ones (like less than $2.00) that seemed to be poorly rated.

No, I was looking for something that looked like the UI from Ulysses. And I am willing to pay some coin for it (my annual Ulysses subscription is like $50, and I gladly pay that.)

The one that caught my eye was called "Inspire Writer" normally $49.95, but $20 off, so it was $29.95.

Visually it looked like a good clone to the look and feel of Ulysses, so much so that it felt like a well broken-in glove being put on on that first crisp Fall morning.

I mashed that BUY button so fast it probably reported a mugging.

Initial Impressions

It is gorgeous, it has most of the same functionality and features as Ulysses, it runs well, and has a clean, clear interface. It doesn't get in the way, and if I properly delineate paragraphs, I can just paste it into a Ghost post, and it is perfect.

While I have written a couple of posts with it so far, I am sure I will continue to find new features. It doesn't get in the way, and it generates great output. Just what the doctor ordered.

Final Thoughts

One of the things keeping me tied to the Mac was Ulysses. I have to admit that it is a killer app, and for its purpose (and mine) nothing touches it. But Inspire Writer is coming damned close. The one feature that I missed from Ulysses was the ability to publish directly to the common CMS back ends, and alas, it does have that capability, and it works brilliantly.

It literally is Ulysses brother from a different mother! My PC journey is now filled with joy.

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