This is a review of Tabula, a new writing app that interprets your page as you write, recognizing headings and other elements. It’s like using #markdown, but without all the added characters.
Tabula recognizes short phrases on a single line as headings. For the app to recognize your text as a heading, you do need to capitalize at least two words — unless it is a single word heading. If you don’t capitalize, the phrase is interpreted as body text.
Tabula recognizes unordered and ordered lists.
- Use a hyphen at the start of the line to create an unordered list
- Or an asterisk
- Create a nested item by tabbing
- Or create an ordered list with a number
- This is pretty much like markdown
You can emphasize text by adding a backtick (“”) to the front of the word in question, as I did with question. This isn’t any different than markdown really, and you’re limited (as far as I’ve been able to see) to italics. The app reserves the right to apply bolding to headings and simple tables.
Create Simple Tables
|Tabula For Mac||$4.99|
|Tabula For iOS||$2.99|
Very Nice Exporting
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Tabula environment is its simple but very nice export function. Just click the little export icon in the upper right corner and you switch to a preview of how the document will look. You can select from several preset export styles.
To go back to editing mode, just click the little arrow icon that replaced the export icon in the upper right. Below are two of the half dozen styles for exporting:
As you can tell, from the screenshots, I wrote this review in Tabula. I exported it as HTML code which I pasted into WordPress, and all the formatting followed nicely. I did change the headings from the Heading 5 format (a little too small) to Heading 4. But that’s it.
Like TaskPaper, but Not
Tabula reminds me a bit of TaskPaper, but it is definitely intended for writing and not for task management. TaskPaper is a far more sophisticated app.
The Tabula version for iPad and iPhone is very nice, offering the same features as the Mac version, but with a handy extended keyboard row to make editing more convenient, including a little tap button for selecting text.
If you store your Tabula files on iCloud, you can open them on either type of device.
The Bottom Line
Tabula probably won’t replace Scrivener or Ulysses if you are a writer, but is a viable option if you’re looking for an elegant, simple editor for drafting and publishing reports, essays, short articles or the like. This is not a note-taking app. What you put into Tabula, you will be publishing in some form, most likely PDF.
This is just a version 1.0 release. The developer has plans to add custom export styles, typewriter mode, embedded images and other improvements in coming releases.