Syml v. Editorial — iOS Text Editor Review

Screenshot 2015-12-15 22.14.51I was looking at Brett Terpstra’s iTextEditors list and came across a new entry: “Syml – Minimalist Text Editor for Dropbox.” It bills itself as a Markdown editor, specifically for Dropbox (my cloud service of choice.) It also claims a wonderful new UI. So naturally I dropped a few bucks to check this thing out.

I can’t say it’s a bad editor. The interface is as innovative as it claims — it reminds me of good drawing apps I’ve used. There’s a lot of choices in appearance, including my current crush, Ethan Schoonover’s Solarized color palette. But I filter all iOS text editors through my primary use case, Scrivener external folder sync. And for that, Syml (pronounced “simple” without the “p”) doesn’t hold up.

Syml allows you to sync with an arbitrary Dropbox folder. One folder. No subfolders. And once you set it up, you can’t change folders. So if you start working on a different Scrivener project, the only way you can tell Syml to look at the different sync folder is to unlink from Dropbox, and re-link with the new folder.

Even Textilus and Matcha are more flexible. And as for Editorial, you can link to the parent folder of both your draft and your notes sync folders, or even one level higher, to the parent folder that, say, contains all the sync folders for all your projects, and Editorial will scan your Dropbox for multiple projects, with notes, and download recently used folders with all their files to your iPad while you’re still waiting for Syml to list the contents of one lousy directory.

Yeah, it’s that slow.

For working on projects that essentially are created and maintained elsewhere, like a Scrivener project, the developer’s text editor Editorial, wins hands-down. That’s because almost all development follows that paradigm. If you’d like to take notes in Markdown and have them automatically backed up to Dropbox, Syml may be your thing. It’s just not what I do.