Folding Text

Recently I paid £28 on the Apple app store for a copy of Mellel 3, a word processor I don’t intend to use. This is more than just an example of my relentless addiction to acquiring software (honest!). I recently came across a cache of files from way back in 2006  when I used to use Mellel as my word processor of choice– for the record, it is excellent for handling long documents. At the time, Word on the Mac was more or less unusable for me– it kept slowing down and crashing and Scrivener was not even a blip on my radar. I found Mellel through David Hewson’s excellent blog and I settled down to use it for around a year, until I found Scrivener which I have been using ever since. My old copy of Mellel was for the PowerPC and simply would not run on my new Mac. I had 32000 words of a Kormak novel in the Mellel format and I wanted to get at it, so I spent the money. You could see this as an example of vendor lock-in via a proprietary format, but I prefer to see it as an example of author stupidity in not saving his work in a universal format. 

All of which is a very long-winded introduction to my review of Folding Text. Folding Text is yet another word processor albeit of a very specialised sort. It works with plain text which is pretty much the universal format and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. It works everywhere and on everything– computers of every OS, iPhones, Android Phones, you name it. Stick a plain text file in Dropbox and you can use it most anywhere, anytime. You’re not likely to find yourself having to buy a new version of your old word processor to have to access your old files either. 

A friend of mine quite rightly said, well, Bill, if you want to use plain text, why not just use TextEdit or WordPad or some other plain text editor? Which is a very good question. The answer is that none of them have the features I want in a word processor. They are a bit too barebones. You can work with the text but have no control over structure at all.

Folding Text, on the other hand, by means of some clever tricks lets me do most of the things I would in Microsoft Word in plain text. If I want to have level one header I simply put a hash mark in front of it. While I am using Folding Text, it will be treated like a header. I can open up all the sub-text in an outline or hide it. I can move the sections around in an outline. Folding Text lets me set up checkboxes and timers and other things in a similar manner. It’s a clever idea that would let me work purely in plain text if I wanted to. 

Does this mean I will be abandoning Scrivener any time soon? Of course not. I was seduced by the reviews of Folding Text– universally excellent and I wanted to try the program out. I have even been using it for writing notes and essays. It’s a pleasant work environment and hey its given me something to blog about. (It has also reminded me to start saving all my files in plain text for backup purposes.) If you are interested in a fast, light and formidable Mac plain text editor/outliner, it looks like a good bet. It costs £10.49 at the App store.

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