Bear is a fully fledged writing app - my experiences and wishes as former ulysses user

(The text is a bit long but I felt like it :wink: )

It is ironical: actually the best feature of ulysses par excellence was that one that brought me to bear. When i start writing a text, generally essays to political, social and philosophical topics, i loved ulysses feature to create little chunks of text, organised in ulysses second pane and called sheets. Yes, in bear you call them notes and they are listed in the notes list. In that regard bear and ulysses are similar. I loved ulysses ability to select multiple notes that are displayed then in a continuous text in the editor. With the help of the feature to merge and glue sheets/notes i builded up larger pieces of prosa that finally ended in the text.

But last year i discovered the existence of so called notes apps with the ability to crosslink. I was fascinated by the concept of wiki- and backlinks but i was frustrated about this hyped tool called roam research: it promised to be my second brain but it forced my first brain to submit to it. Then i read somewhere that also bear supports wikilinks. I remembered immediately that it was this absolutely stunning looking app which i immediately deinstalled because of the lack of folders. My mindset was preformed by ulysses. I even didn’t took the time to discover the wikilinks. How ignorant!

It will be a hard and tedious work to transfer all my serious notes from zotero to bear but the effort will be worth it. Recently i discovered a bibtex plugin for obsidian that could help. I love the idea that the lines between note taking, pkm and writing are blurring. And in the meantime i do not laugh anymore at bear because it misses folder, i consider nested tags currently as the superior organisational element: they combine the power of folders and simple tags in one simple concept. Last but not least: bears wonderful editor gives me the best environment for writing. While in general i share ulysses markdown orientated approach that the formatting of the text doesn’t matter at all at writing, i love bears magic to let markdown text appear beautiful and inviting. I am wondering that in the world wide web bear is rather presented as pkm app than a writing app. Seemingly ulysses is alone on the far front when talking about markdown apps dedicated to writing. According to self-portrayal bear is a note app. But it is a pkm app and it is a writing app too. And it can be all of them three because of its minimalistic approach. Shiny Frog should bring these capabilities to the fore and advertise bear also as such an app.

Currently i am excited: many features i wished for bear as writing app are going to come sooner or later: the toc inside of a fourth panel is planned, the focus mode was promised* (please read footnote!) and even that nifty little feature at once seems probable. It gets better from day to day.

Last but not least the most important wishes i have for bear as writing app, hoping that the devs will at least consider them:

  • A goal tracker (word count)
  • The ability to reorder headings (including its containing sections) by drag and drop inside of the TOC. In lattics app i have seen so far the most friendly implementation of such a feature with best ux (much better than in ms word)
  • What i called above ulysses best or killer feature: the ability to select multiple notes and to view them in a continuous text in the editor. To make sense that feature also requires the manual ordering of notes as further sort option in the notes list what would certainly not be a trivial matter at implementation.

Have a nice weekend you all! :wink:

footnote (added 25.10.22 16:46):
I have to correct myself as @trix180 in one of his latest posts answered that at the moment the focus mode is not planned. I hope my wrong information do not cause confusion. As far as i remember now the focus mode was not promised but nevertheless the mods here in the forum asked the users how they would want it


I stopped my subscription to bear in July because I just saw so much potential but wasn’t enough for me. I didn’t own multiple apple devices besides my m1 air and so cut it. But I just knew there was something there. Now with this bear 2.0 and the way I see it , bear can be my journal / note taking for day to day and goal planner. I will still keep my more serious writing in Scrivener but I can see myself turning to bear for some of the features you mentioned. I can’t wait for a beta key or some sort of release. Because this looks amazing…

Scrivener is a beast and belongs to another kind of writing software that has its own philosophy of design and special features for story planning, cork board and templates. If i would have to write with such a software it think i rather would be storyist as it is much cleaner. Scrivener overwhelmed me totally. Although scrivener and ulysses seem to be the two big one in the scene of writing apps, ulysses is much more similar to bear than to scrivener. There are some features in ulysses that i would like to see in bear, but on the other hand bear also has some superior points. Just an example: ulysses has an incredible search feature that allows you to search in each element (heading, quotes, lists, urls, code blocks, and and and) of the sheets/notes whereas bear just allows to specify a special search for titles wit @title search operator. On the other side the bears nested tags are a far better organisational mean than ulysses’ labels.

If you go through all possibilities of nested tags i would even say that you easily can replicate many story planning features of scrivener. To give an example: create a note in bear, leave it untagged and pin it - in the untagged notes list it will appear as first one. Use it as template for characters for example. Once created such a template you will easily find it and just have to duplicate this note. By adding a tag to it, this duplicate will leave the notes list for untagged notes and will appear wherever your tagging will bring it. Actually simple that workflow but it is not forced on you. Rather than that you have to find your ways with the means bear gives to you.

Sometimes i believe that the devs are not really aware that bear is also a very good tool for longform writing. The little bear was born as note app but grew up in the last year and is going to become a pkm app with its crosslinks. Currently it is not far away from ulysses. I just wish the devs would give a little love to bear also in that regard. Currently i believe note taking, personal knowledge management and writing belongs in one tool. And bear is that one app that is closest to a perfect app.

I agree bear can be a beast of an app with this new update. i originally cancelled my subscription because it just didn’t feel :100: yet. Now though it does. Also for scriv i know it is overwhelming. I don’t use it like that . I just have it in plain editor mode and like how easy and fast the file management on it is and i just write on it. If i need something , i rarely do , i just go to the menu bar and activate it. Mine just looks like this.

That is one project i opened. I got different ones for different stuff. Storyist and a bunch of others i used just weren’t good enough or i didn’t like as much… I hope i get the beta though…