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Ulysses III, Byword and MarsEdit: Choices for the right Markdown Solution


Writing using Markdown is a very liberating experience. Using Markdown allows you to concentrate on your writing. Ulysses III and Byword are two editors, different in nature, that really allow you to focus on just your writing. I like to use though Marsedit for the offline publishing component although in Byword this isn’t such a necessity.

On the issue of Marsedit you could, if you wanted to, use it for everything including your Markdown writing. The problem I have with Marsedit in this role is it does not give you just one solid, clean writing slate to write in. There is distraction although minimal.

Marsedit could really be your editor and offline publishing tool of which it is unmatched. Personally, because I like Byword or Ulysses III as editors I view Marsedit as the glue that will pull my document together and publish it.

The Tools, the Differences

Although at the Daily Mac View a great deal has been written about Markdown, Byword, Ulysses III and Marsedit, it is useful at this point to look at the products again from a slightly different angle. I’m going to discuss some of the nuisances that might be important in what you decide to use. I can easily say up front that if you’re at all confused you cannot go wrong with Byword.


Byword I believe is the best of the Markdown text editors currently available. From a functional point of view it just can’t be beat. It will provide you with as distraction a free writing environment as you could ever possibly want.

It is also a delight to use. It seems as if every command and short cut has been thoroughly thought through so that is the fastest yet most comfortable route from A to B.

Byword though is a file based application. For everything you write, no matter how small, there will be a file. It keeps a typical file per item you‘re writing about. I tend to keep all Byword files on iCloud however.

Completely Cohesive from IOS to OSX

Byword has another extremely nice feature. It is available for IOS. It almost looks identical in IOS as it does in OSX. You have Markdown previews in this beautiful, distraction free writing environment.

If you keep your files on iCloud you will be able to easily just jostle between your Mac and IOS device. It is important to note and I’ll go into this further later that Ulysses III’s IOS product for the iPad only does not even begin to compete but it is going to cost you a lot more. Dadaleus Touch is their iPad product and I am very disappointed in it.

Byword Provides offline Publishing as an add-on

Finally, one of the very beneficial aspects of Byword is you can publish directly from it to WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr etc. This is a real time-saver and worth the $4.99 in app additional cost.

Ulysses III

Ulysses III, if nothing else, is a very cool piece of software. It has a beautiful design however, it will allow you to write in a completely distraction free way much like Byword. The difference is Byword is an absolutely true Markdown Editor while Ulsses III treats markdown unusually. That’s not to say the unusual aspects of the product are bad. However, if you have never used Markdown and are learning it then start with Byword. Ulysses III will only confuse you and should be used when you’re a skilled Markdown writer so that you understand Markdown.


The true beauty of Ulysses III is that it is a database of your writing. There is not one file for everything you write. This simplifies things greatly. With a file based system as you develop a lot of files you’ll want a file manager like Leap or iDocument or even DEVONthink. With Ulysses III this isn’t necessary as the files are sitting in a database.

Dadaleus Touch

This is Ulysses III extension into IOS. Although cool at first it pales dramatically in comparison to Byword. There is not a Markdown previewer and it is not that nice distraction free writing environment so perfected with Byword.


Not enough good can be written about this program. It will allow the avid web writer to write then publish offline. You can write in the Marsedit editor and then publish or write in Byword (not as essential now with it’s own publisher with many caveats) or Ulysses III (the program is essential to Ulysses III and Marsedit).

This is a powerful program with many features, far too many of which this article is geared towards. Just know that this is one worthwhile investment. You cannot go wrong having purchased Marsedit and you will find as long as you are a web publisher you will use the program.

Three Excellent Choices

I have presented here three excellent Markdown products that work individually or in tandem generally with Marsedit. Byword is clearly my favourite editor and Marsedit I could not be without.

Ulysses III is a little more of a program that fills an interesting niche. If you write a lot you will then appreciate it’s database architecture. Rather than all of these files scattered on the disk they are stored in a database so it is easy to see what you’ve written and find it.

Ulysses III though is a rewrite from scratch and it’s roughness around the edges along with its price make me very reluctant to recommend it except to the very few. Dadaleus Touch is a poor implementation of a Markdown program and does not compare in the slightest to that of Byword.

Unique Differences

These programs are all good in their own right. They meet different needs. However, the file structure of Byword could be dealt with by a good filing methodology and a program such as Leap or iDocument to manage numerous files.

In the end, these unique differences provide a set of solutions that at one time might be adequate and at another problematic. The Database structure of Ulysses III could solve the problem of numerous articles and documents that have been written for the web to ensure one spot for everything.

Yet, Byword’s pure distraction free writing environment might allow you to be less encumbered when writing. Marsedit of course is always there at many levels but you can know assuredly it will get a document published offline. You will not go back to online publishing once you’ve published offline.

The differences can make it difficult to choose but they are also liberating in that different kind of needs can be met. Markdown is a wonderful way to write for the web. There are far more options than the above but above presents three similar yet different approaches to getting the job done one of which might be more appropriate at one point in time than the other.

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  1. Ulysses may appear to be a database, but it isn’t. It is basically a cool front end for text files that are stored in the usual file/folder format.

    I just wanted to clarify this as some users might be put off by the idea of storing their copy in a proprietary, vulnerable database.

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