The Apps I Used to Make Techinch Magazine
Monday, July 8th, 2013
It's a rare day when I use only one or two apps in my work. I'm usually switching around between so many apps, I had to try hard to trim down my list of apps I use for AppStorm. But when I decided to take on making an iOS magazine app, I needed a set of tools just for that — some brand new to my workflow, and others old favorites I just needed to spend more time in.
So here's what I used to take Techinch Magazine from idea to inception:
The new writing app from The Soulmen has grown on me over the past few months, and it's now where most of my daily writing takes place (sorry, iA Writer). When I first started writing my article outlines for Techinch Magazine, Ulysses III wasn't around, and even when it first got released in April I didn't switch to it at first. But it's such a nice app, it seemed a shame to not put it to use — so I decided to make it the app to write and organize all of my Techinch Magazine content, even if I didn't use it for my other writing. It wasn't long after that I started using Ulysses III for everything.
Here's how I use it for Techinch. I made a Techinch Magazine folder, added sub-folders for each issue, then started article drafts under that. I can then jot ideas down in Daedalus touch, write articles in Markdown, preview them in Marked, copy them directly in Markdown to the TypeEngine console for publication, or export them together for my eBook versions. All of that's saved on iCloud, but I copy it to Dropbox also, just in case.
Ulysses III keeps everything together, works great, and looks great at the same time (especially with my favorite settings: full-screen, Pure Mode, Freestraction theme, and 17pt Pitch font). Now, the built-in search tool just can't come soon enough.
I love web apps, but I'm still not generally fond of doing all my writing in a browser (chalk that up to having way too many half-written articles lost because the internet connection dropped, an app logged me out, or a half-dozen other reasons). Still, Draft has found a spot in my Techinch Magazine workflow, thanks to its copy-editing service. I spent $5/article, and got some rather valuable edits on the two longest articles in Issue 1. It's also a great place to share documents with friends and others, to get their thoughts on something before publishing it — with all the changes in plain text and Markdown. It's great stuff.
Techinch Magazine is primarily an iOS app, but I wanted anyone who wanted to read it to be able to, so I made PDF and ePub versions of it as well. There's better tools out there for making eBooks, but you know what? Pages worked.
I exported everything from Issue 1 in RTF from Ulysses, then tweaked it a bit to get the fonts and colors the same as in the app. It took a tiny bit of work to add a background color to the PDF to make it look like the app (tip: you actually have to make a rectangle, stretch it to the size of your page, then move it to your document's section master from the Format -> Advanced menu), but everything else worked as you'd expect. I put it all together first for the PDF, then had to delete the auto-generated table of contents before exporting as ePub, because Pages automatically recreates an ePub style table of contents when exporting. Everything else worked great.
It might not be the best app for making eBooks, but it sure worked fine for what I needed.
I'm a writer, not a graphics designer or photographer, so I didn't initially plan to do much in the way of graphics for Techinch Magazine, especially since I had the new logo that Jaume Estruch designed for Techinch.com in April. But, making an app takes a lot of images — the app logo, magazine covers, launch images in more sizes than anyone should have to manage — not to mention mockup ideas and such. Then, I decided that I should go beyond the generic logo and make real covers for Techinch magazine, and it was time to pull the camera out (a Sony Cybershot DSC-W630).
For all of this, Photoshop was my handy tool. Sure, I didn't use even 10th of its features, but it was nice to have around for the magazine (and I still use it daily for logos and screenshots at AppStorm anyhow, despite not being a graphics guy). I'm rather sure Pixelmator or Acorn could fit the job too, though.
The Techinch Magazine app is in the App Store, where Apple takes care of downloads and billing and everything else, but the eBook versions are left for me to take care of. That job I outsourced to Gumroad. For 5%+$0.25 from each transaction, they let you sell your goods and have them sent directly to your customers — and then will pay you via bank deposit or PayPal. It's insanely easy to use and customize, and even lets you make subscriptions. You just about couldn't ask for more.
Email, Skype, and App.net
Working with a team to get an app in the App Store takes a lot of communications. With the TypeEngine team, I've had hour-long Skype calls and sent numerous emails back and forth. And, we've used App.net Private Messages quite a bit to chat about smaller details. I've found that App.net's private messages end up working a bit more like a private chat room than Twitter's DMs ever have, perhaps just because of the larger character limit in messages. Plus, I originally heard about TypeEngine on App.net. At any rate, we would have found it hard to get the app out the door and in the App Store without all of these communications tools.
That's a Wrap!
So there you have it: the apps that helped me get Techinch Magazine written, edited, developed, and in the App Store. Of them all, Ulysses III and Draft are the major stars: they're great, and if you're a writer, you should be using them already.
Oh, and Kirby. But you should already know that.
Have you tried out Techinch Magazine yet? If not, I'd be terribly proud if you'd give it a try — in iOS app or eBook form. It's just $1.99/month, with a 2 week free trial.