Tabula

A new distraction-free writing app: Tabula

Tabula is a new writing app that recognizes some basic elements of text on the page and automatically adds formatting.

Tabula is a new writing app that recognizes some basic elements of text on the page and automatically adds formatting.

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.

Automatic Headings

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.

Like this.

Create Lists

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
  1. Or create an ordered list with a number
  2. This is pretty much like markdown

Emphasize Text

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:

In preview mode you can see how your work will look and select from several styles. This is the "Reel" style.

In preview mode you can see how your work will look and select from several styles. This is the “Reel” style.

 

tabula-screen-3

This is the “Report” style. Note that along the bottom row you have controls to select the style, add spacing between lines and indenting paragraphs.

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.

iOS Version

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 iOS version is handy too, and can read the files created by the Mac version. Note the extended keyboard row with handy buttons for editing.

The iOS version is handy too, and can read the files created by the Mac version. Note the extended keyboard row with handy buttons for editing.

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.

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