How to Use MindNode and Ulysses for a Better Writing Process

At IdeasOnCanvas we understand MindNode as part of a project workflow, not a single destination app. That’s why we want to introduce Ulysses – an excellent writing app – to you today. Ulysses and MindNode have file types in common, making a seamless integration possible.

Image of MindNode and Ulysses logo with the text MindNode heart Ulysses

How you approach writing is likely unique to you. Wether you start with some notes; a collection of loose-leaf, digital snippets; a full blown outline; or straight with a first paragraph. Any which way, Ulysses is a flexible way to get you there.

I must confess, I am usually of the multiple-notes-on-index-cards-type writer. A few of them always get lost and then turn up later, making for nice twists on the new piece I am writing. So when I look at a writing software, I am looking for something that is as simple to use as those note cards, and allows me complexity on par with any word processing app. Ulysses, I am happy to say, manages that beautifully.

A short tour of Ulysses

A screen capture of the layout of Ulysses app In its standard layout Ulysses comes with a Library, a document section, and your writing space. At the top you can find a simple button to create a new document. Click it and you can immediately start writing. Instead of cluttering the app with all kinds of formatting buttons it allows the use of Markdown to structure a text. A traditional word processor will require you to pick a style for each and every type of heading, description and text. With Markdown you simply assign it an order and are done. Styling happens later. By choosing Markdown Ulysses let’s you focus on the content above the look of what you are writing. Additionally its simple layout transfers well to iPhone and iPad allowing note-taking and writing anywhere. Sync over iCloud makes your notes instantly available everywhere. I said I’d make this a short tour, so I won’t go into all the features. It has to be noted though, that while it is easy to just get started writing, Ulysses incorporates a powerful set of features for even the most demanding text wrangler, including notes, writing goals and outline views.

Once you are done you can either leave the note right were it is or add it to a collection in your library. How you use collections depends on you, I prefer to use them like individual notebooks. You might want to use them as a collection of book chapters, or project sections. This collection is displayed in the central column, so you know how your current document relates to the overall project. Of course it is entirely possible to just display your writing process, focus on the white space and your typing.

Ulysses offers several export options to continue on with your text. As a blogger you can send your document directly to Wordpress, or Medium, or create an ebook. Here you have the choice to use several different styles, or even create your own. With power like that at your fingertips nothing can prevent you writing the great “American” novel anymore.

Integrating with MindNode

side by side screenshots of a MindNode document and the generated Markdown in Ulysses Now a more complex writing project of mine likely doesn’t live exclusively on index cards, or in digital notes, but goes an additional round through a mind map in MindNode. Here I will map out the topic, ideas and applications before trying to wrangle it into coherent text. Any research I have done, images collected and the like, will live in this document. When I am ready to flesh out this outline I export it as TextBundle and then drop this into my Ulysses Library to work on. MindNode converts your nodes according to their hierarchy level to first, second and third order headings and nested lists

What’s even more fun, this exchange doesn’t work just one way. As I mentioned with the index cards, I’m likely to just collect snippets of text inside a digital notecard. I can also export this from Ulysses and import this partial list into MindNode to flesh out the ideas until I am ready to make a full text out of it.

How to share documents between MindNode and Ulysses

To export a MindNode map into Markdown or TextBundle select the Export option in the File menu. This will open the Export menu where, under Text, you can select to export with Markdown, including pictures. screenshot showing the export options to generate a markdown document

You can then drag the document into Ulysses or use the Open panel to open it in the app.

In Ulysses you can export a sheet, or even multiple sheets, using the share symbol at the top of the window. In the dropdown menu you can select the type of document to create and whether to send it to another app, like MindNode. A screen capture of the share dialog in Ulysses

Again you can drag the Markdown document onto MindNode, or open it via the Open panel.

Get Ulysses

Ulysses is available on the Mac App Store for $44.99 and for iOS at $24.99. You can download a free trial on the Ulysses website, that is limited to ten hours, after which the sheets you create become read only.

You also have the chance to win one of five licenses for Ulysses. To enter please tweet our tutorial on Twitter, or comment on our Facebook post. The giveaway is open until Tuesday June 13th at 2pm CET and the winners will be announced on June 14th.

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