To subscribe or not to subscribe... Subscription model choices

I’m looking at either extending my Ulysses subscription or to only use drafts and numbers for (longer) writing. For the past few months I’ve tried getting my app usage and number down to mostly Apple stock apps for email, notes, reminders and calendars. To my surprise this fits my workflows very well!

I still use omnifocus and goodnotes for task management and handwritten notes (on ipad pro) because of the unique features they offer.

Next step is looking at my long form writing.
I currently pay license fees for both Drafts and Ulysses. Drafts I use for ideas capture, paragraph writing and general quick entry, especially from my Apple watch. Ulysses is my go to for longer documents and chapter writing.

The thing is, I can write longer form documents just as well in Pages, and still keep Drafts for capture and as the starting point for my writing. And that would save me €40… The only thing is I would lose some of my markdown writing capabilities.

Any thoughts on this?

Try it and commit to the alternative apps for a month or two. You will need the time to really get into good habits (and maybe some new skills) with the other apps.

If you later miss Ulysses, and want to start using it again, then you have a good baseline for what value it adds in your particular workflow, and if you find the subscription price justifiable or not.

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As to which app to keep paying for, do you use the pro features of Drafts? Could you consider keeping it for basic features and then pay the subscription fee for Ulysses? Do you write enough in Ulysses to justify the cost?

You can certainly do long-form writing in Drafts, though. If you haven’t already, take a look at Tim Nahumck’s Drafts 5 review , which he wrote exclusively in Drafts employing the workspaces feature (part of the pro feature set).

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For what it’s worth, I’ve been using Drafts exclusively for writing once the Workspaces feature was added. As @nostodnayr pointed out, I did write the entire review in Drafts. Recently, I saw that Federico is writing the iOS 12 Review in Drafts as well. With a little tweaking, you can turn it into something that works for you with actions & keyboard shortcuts.

Ulysses is a great app. There’s a lot to love there. The organization and typewriter modes are two things that I wish Drafts had. But at $40/year, I couldn’t justify it to myself when I can get the same thing done in an app I already pay for. I don’t use a Mac at all for writing, so for me it made no sense to keep the subscription. And with the Drafts app in the works for Mac, I suspect others will be incorporating Drafts into their daily workflows once it is released.

At the end of it, it’s a decision you’ll have to make on your own. If having both works for you, then do that. But if you think you can get by with Drafts alone, it might make sense for you to keep only that subscription due to the versatility.

I think one thing that may be missing from the conversation is the design of the apps. They provide an environment that is conducive to doing some task. A lot of the apps mentioned are very basic in their functionality — they aren’t Word. (Some) People are willing to pay for this design and environment created by the app.
Similar reasoning: you can get coffee anywhere (often for less), but people still go to Starbucks to work.

I don’t make my living writing, but I do like Drafts as a writing environment. Right now I haven’t posted to my blog in awhile because I like to write most on my Mac, but I need to have access to it on iOS. I use Drafts and Bear, but I feel wrong doing long form writing in Bear. It’s made the perfect excuse to procrastinate on a series I want to write. Once Drafts for Mac is out I’ll start it!

I go back-and-forth on Ulysses. I was all in and loving it, then they switched to subscription pricing and it gave me a moment of pause. I was so frustrated with the subscription pricing model I stopped using the app entirely.

More recently I decided that I was going to start working on a very large writing project as part of a tutorial series I’m creating. I decided to give Ulysses another try. Several chapters in, and I wanted to do some more writing. I open my iPad and I am unable to edit any of the notes that were created on my laptop.

But to answer your question. It’s not really worth subscribing unless you feel good about the arrangement. $40/year or $400/year - it doesn’t really matter the amount. It all comes back to how you feel about the transaction. If you don’t think it’s worth it - then it’s not.

The good news is there are plenty of alternatives. Check them out and find the one that’s right for you. For me, that was Bear. I love the tagging because it allows me to put a note in several “locations” at once. I paid for the pro version and I didn’t look back.

I hope this helps.

I would go for the subscription if I can make money off of it. One blog post will cover the $40 subscription for the whole year.

I don’t do enough graphic work to cover an Adobe Creative Cloud account. So I will decline that subscription.

That’s how I choose my subscriptions.

Hmm… syncing Ulysses from my MacBook to my iPad was almost instantaneous. Hopefully you had updated Ulysses on both iPad and Mac? And also checked Ulysses prefs?

Drop one or the other. It’s not an irrevocable decision.

Unless you have the lower subscription rate because you bought Ulysses previous to the subscription model. (Captain Semi-obvious)

I will use both for 2018-19 Ulysses has enough of Scrivener features such as the ability to temporarily glue text blocks together not just merge… And in a few months I’ll know how operate Drafts better.

This is my problem. I have the lower subscription rate and I don’t want to lose it, but at the moment I don’t use the app enough to justify the cost. I want to use it, though, which is what has me dithering.

My middle ground is to wait till iTunes cards go on sale then stock up on a few to purchase the subscription…I feel like I’m getting a bit of a discount this way.

I’m not sure if this fits with “justify the cost.” I recently looked at all the iOS apps I’ve bought since 2009. More than a few of my favorites were not used more than the year of purchase. I don’t regret using /buying them. But they were not subscriptions. I don’t dislike the subscription model but I use hard eyes at purchase. I use harder eyes at the renewal time.

The same pattern on Android.

I hope to find that subscription-based apps get upgraded more frequently and are higher quality, since the developers have a consistent revenue stream. While some developers do a good job with upgrades on a buy and paid-upgrade schedule (kind of amounting to subscription a anyway), many apps languish within multi-year upgrade cycles. I expect subscription-based apps that do not get frequent upgrades and new features will lose subscribers in droves, while those that consistently improve will be successful.


I’m grateful to at least have the ability in Ulysses to view and export my sheets if my subscription expires. I just won’t be able to add new sheets or edit current sheets.

I hope more companies will adopt the Agenda app’s subscription model. Sign up for a year and you get one year of tech support. You also get to keep any new features that were added to the app during that time frame. If my subscription ends, I can still use the current features that I gained. But, if I wanted to gain new features, I can re-subscribe once again.

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For me it’s always about justifying the cost, and that applies for both the subscription and purchase models. Unfortunately (?) the equations have changed since retirement. I’m now of the mindset to use nothing with subscriptions and to keep using purchased software until it breaks, usually with a new macOS which come too frequently. Programs that have switched to the subscription model I intend to drop when the purchased versions I have stop working – this includes Adobe Photoshop, Text Expander, Microsoft Office (which I don’t actually need anymore) and I’m suspicious that 1Password will follow. The only exception has been Quicken, which actually always was subscription.

I use Scrivener, Pages, BBedit, Notes, Growly Notes, Stickies, and physical paper for my various writing needs.

for me at the moment it is all about what I get out of the subscription. Drafts I use every day for a lot of tasks. Ulysses is only used when I have some longer writing.

So finally I decided to keep my Drafts subscription and end my ulysses one.

the notes app and drafts will work for me at the moment, and the 40 euros I can save are very welcome.