As soon as Information Architects released Writer Pro shortly before Christmas, I began collecting “first look” pieces after their phenomenal introductory video nearly caused me to shell out a hefty $40 to have the app on both my Mac and iOS devices sight on seen. Much more cautions after my poor experience with Coin though, I exercised a bit of restraint in choosing to wait until after Christmas to make my final decision. Nine days and one debacle later, I am very thankful I did.
If I had to pick one aspect to critique out of all the talk surrounding Writer Pro since its debut, I would pick an apparent genesis of extreme entitlement: regarding price, $40 for an impressive, cross-platform writing app does not signal extortion, but rather a sustainable business model and a group of developers who value the fruit of their labors enough to spurn the disappointing race to the bottom we have seen on the App Store in recent months. iA ought not have been criticized for pricing Writer Pro in such a way, no matter how few did this, but instead should receive praise for doing so. How incredibly entitled must one be in order to sit on a couch and proclaim years’ of work not worth a paltry $40? There is a larger point to be made here about App Store pricing in general, but for now I will let sleeping dogs lie.
Even more overblown than the price though is Writer Pro’s syntax highlighting and the patent brouhaha, as John Gruber put it, that came as a result of iA trying to attack other developers using it. While we must give them credit for attempting to obviate a skill all accomplished writers should possess, as Brett Terpstra explained in his Web Excursions for December 28, 2013 post this is nothing more than a polished implementation of the built-in function NSLinguisticTagger; iA did not reinvent the wheel here. When they filed for and then planning on attacking small, independent developers with a patent on such an “innovation”, then, it is no wonder nearly everyone went after Information Architects for this sleazy practice. How disgustingly entitled must you be to engender the audacity necessary to justify repackaging a built-in system function, billing it as an incredible, mind-blowing innovation, and then threatening one-man shops for their use of this feature long before their own?
I really wanted to buy Writer Pro when it came out, and I still do — perhaps now more than ever. But at the same time I know that if I were to spend $40 on what is almost undoubtedly an excellent writing experience, I would do so in support of these deplorable practices, and that is something I just cannot stomach. So I went out and bought Brett Terpstra’s Marked 2, and I suggest you go do the same. I may never use Marked 2, or I might end up using it every day; either way, I will at least rest secure in the knowledge that I have contributed to the livelihood of a developer I hold in high esteem.