It's clever, and it's pretty. If Scribe were a human, you could take it home to meet your mother
The App Store is chock-a-block with all manner of text editors, from full document suites which go a good way to emulating the bloated sack that is Microsoft Word, to code editors for programmers, to super-simple “distraction-free” writing environments (hint: if you cannot concentrate on a window on a computer screen for long enough to write a sentence, then you have bigger problems).
Now, there’s a neat little editor for people who–like me– write for the web. It’s called Scribe.
Scribe is a plain-text editor with some neat additions for writing prose in HTML. To succeed as a text editor an app has to offer an almost standard set of options. It needs TextExpander support, DropBox syncing, a custom font (in this case, a tweaked version of Anonymous Pro) and custom gestures (use two finger swipes to undo and redo). Scribe has all of these, and even adds an “interface-free mode” which blanks out everything but a single paragraph in the center of the screen.
But the distinguishing feature here is the clever HTML system. When you highlight a word, the regular iOS copy/paste box pops up, only it’s bigger. It now contains buttons to wrap the selection in various HTML tags: bold, italic, list, strike and so on, as well as a URL helper which will turn a word onto a link, using the URL on the clipboard or letting you type your own.
It’s slick, and very intuitive, and word counts and previews are just a tap away.
If you find HTML ugly, you can also use Markdown, the human-friendly markup language from John Gruber. In this case, the buttons work in just the same way, but instead of adding HTML tags, Markdown symbols are used. Thus bold looks like **this**.
Finally, there’s iCloud support. For a first version, Scribe is remarkably well thought out and implemented. You can even add your own custom HTML tags to the popovers. One thing that would be welcome in an update is something found in many iPad editors: a single tap in the margin to move the cursor one character at a time. It’s like virtual cursor keys, and works way better than Apple’s way to move the cursor (tap, hold, drag, pray).
Best of all, Scribe is dirt cheap. At just $3 for a universal app, you can afford to buy it just to take it for a spin. Recommended.