When comparing Vim vs Ulysses III, the Slant community recommends Ulysses III for most people. In the question“What are the best Markdown editors for OS X?” Ulysses III is ranked 3rd while Vim is ranked 19th. The most important reason people chose Ulysses III is:
A few themes are baked in and a big selection of [user-contributed styles](http://styles.ulyssesapp.com/) to choose from are available on the Ulysses Style Exchange.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Lightweight and fast
When compared to modern graphical editors like Atom and Brackets (which have underlying HTML5 engines, browsers, Node, etc.), Vim uses a sliver of the system's memory and it loads instantly, all the while delivering the same features. Vim is also faster than Emacs.
Pro Free and open-source software
Vim is open-source, GPL-compatible charityware.
Pro Works in terminal over SSH
Unlike other editors such as Sublime Text, Vim is a command line editor and hence can be used in remote development environments like Chromebooks via SSH.
Pro Extremely portable
Vi/vim exists on almost all Unix-like platforms. It's the de-facto Unix editor and is easily installed on Windows. All you need to make it work is a text-based connection, so it works well for remote machines with slow connections, or when you're too lazy to set up a VNC/Remote Desktop connection.
Pro Keyboard-based, mouse-free interface, and trackpad support
There's no need to reach for the mouse or the Ctrl/Alt buttons again. Everything is a mere key press or two away with almost 200 functions specifically for text editing. Vim does support the mouse, but it's designed so you don't have to use it for greater efficiency.
Versions of Vim, like gVim or MacVim, still allow you to use the mouse and familiar platform shortcuts. That can help ease the learning curve and you'll probably find you won't want to (or need to) use the mouse after a while.
Pro Usable from a Terminal or with a GUI (GVim, MacVim)
If you happen to be logged into SSH, you can use Vim in a terminal. It can also run with a GUI too.
Pro Great productivity
Vim's keyset is mainly restricted to the alphanumeric keys and the escape key. This is an enduring relic of its teletype heritage, but has the effect of making my ost of Vim's functionality accessible without frequent awkward finger reaches.
Pro Macros increase productivity
Many text editors have programmable macros, but since Vim is keyboard-based, your programmed macros are usually far more predictable and easier to understand.
Pro Excellent performance
As it loads the whole file into RAM, replacing all string occurrences in 100 MB+ files is quick and easy. Every other editor has sort of died during that. It is extremely fast even for cold start. Vim is light-weight and very compact. In terminal, it only uses a small amount of memory and anytime you invoke Vim, it's extremely fast. It's immediate, so much so you can't even notice any time lag.
Pro Once learned, it's very hard to forget
Vim's somewhat steep learning curve is more than made up for once you've mastered a few basic concepts and learned the tricks that allow you to program faster with fewer cut/paste mistakes.
Pro Tons of plugins/add-ons
This makes Vim the definitive resource for every environment (Ruby/Rails, Python, C, etc.), or simply just provides more information in your view.
Pro Everything is mnemonic
No need to memorize different key combinations for things like deleting the text inside of a block or deleting the text inside of a pair of quotes. It's just a series of actions, or nouns and verbs, or however you prefer to think about it. If you want to delete, you select "d"; if you want it to happen inside something, you select "i"; and if you want the surrounding double-quotes, just select ". But if you were changing the text, or copying it, or anything else, you'd still use the same "i" and ". This makes it very easy to remember a large number of different extremely useful commands, without the effort it takes to remember all of the Emacs "magic incantations", for example.
Vimtutor is an excellent interactive tutorial for people with no prior experience of Vim. It takes about 30 minutes to complete.
Pro Can never outgrow it
The fact that very few, if any, people claim to be a "Vim Master" is a testament to the breadth and depth of Vim. There is always something new to learn - a new, perhaps more efficient, way to use it. This prevents Vim from ever feeling stale. It's always fresh.
Pro Has multiple distinct editing modes
Interaction with Vim is centered around several "modes", where purpose and keybindings differ in each.
Insert mode is for entering text. This mode most resembles traditional text entry in most editors.
Normal mode (the default) is entered by hitting ESC and converts all keybindings to center around movement within the file, search, pane selection, etc.
Command mode is entered by hitting ":" in Normal mode and allows you to execute Vim commands and scripts similar in fashion to a shell.
Visual mode is for selecting lines, blocks, and characters of code.
Those are the major modes, and several more exist depending on what one defines as a "mode" in Vim.
Pro By default in Linux
All Linux distributions out there will have Vim built into them, which is highly convenient!
Pro Has been supported for a long time
And will be supported for many years to come.
Pro Productivity enhancing modal paradigm
As with all vi-like editors, Vim provides a modal paradigm for text editing and processing that provides a rich syntax and semantic model for composing succinct, powerful commands. While this requires some initial investment in learning how it works in order to take full advantage of its capabilities, it rewards the user well in the long run. This modal interface paradigm also lends itself surprisingly well to many other types of applications that can be controlled by vi-like keybindings, such as browsers, image viewers, media players, network clients (for email and other communication media), and window managers. Even shells (including zsh, tcsh, mksh, and bash, among others) come with vi-like keybinding features that can greatly enhance user comfort and efficiency when the user is familiar with the vi modal editing paradigm.
Pro Asynchronous I/O support
Since Vim 8, Vim can exchange characters with background processes asynchronously. This avoids the problem of the text editor getting stuck when a plugin that had to communicate with a server was running. Now plugins can send and receive data from external scripts without forcing Vim to freeze.
Pro Flexible feature-set
Vim allows users to include many features found in IDEs and competing editors, but does not force them all on the user. This not only helps keep it lighter in weight than a lot of other options, but it also helps ensure that some unused features will not get in the way.
Pro Built-in package management
Starting with Vim 8, a package manager has been built into Vim. The package manager helps keep track of installed plugins, their versions and also only loads the needed plugins on startup depending on the file type.
Pro Donations and support to Vim.org helps children in Uganda through ICCF Holland
Pro Vim encourages discipline
If you use Vim long enough, it will rewire your brain to be more efficient.
Pro Can set up keymapping
Pro If you can use Vim you can also use vi
Pro Works on Android
Pro Status Booster
Using vim not just increase your productivity, but helps you flex.
Pro Multiple clipboards
It is called "registers".
Pro Useful undo features
Vim does not only offer unlimited undo levels, later releases support an undo tree. It eventually gives the editor VCS-like features. You can undo the current file to any point in the past, even if a change was already undone again. Another neat feature is persistent undo, which enables to undo changes after the file was closed and reopened again.
Pro Highly customizable
A few themes are baked in and a big selection of user-contributed styles to choose from are available on the Ulysses Style Exchange.
Pro Does not distract the user
Ulysses has a clean, unobtrusive, easy to overview interface that allows focusing on writing. By default it's split up in 3 panes with sidebar, sheet pane and content pane from left to right. Unnecessary panes can be hidden.
Pro No Markdown syntax knowledge required
Markdown formatting can be applied from the right-click menu, with keyboard shortcuts or from an optional markup bar. Necessary elemants to links, images, and footnotes are added by filling in a popover.
Pro Can paste rich text and import from Word
Pasted rich text and imported Word documents keep their formatting when converted to Markdown.
Pro Attachments can be added
Attachments such as images, text notes, keywords and writing goals can be added to content. And to organize them keywords can be added.
Pro Great tools for organizing and finding files
Ulysses saves everything in the app so there's no file management outside of the editor involved. It organizes content in groups (folders) and sheets (files), has a powerful, easy to use search and allows adding keywords to attachments to help them be organized and found quickly.
Groups can have an unlimited amount of subgroups and the title of subgroup shows up in the pane view. Sheets can be split up, merged, glued together and easily moved around in the sheet pane by dragging and dropping. Great for splitting up larger documents into manageable chunks while still keeping an overview of the whole project and having the ability to move sections around quickly.
Contents of a group can be filtered by text, keywords or change date within headings, code blocks, images or any other marked up text. Filters can contain a combination of conditions and be saved to make a new group. Saved filters can be moved around to different groups and will return filtered results for that group. Selecting multiple groups will show the combined sheets of those groups.
Pro Keyboard navigation
You can operate Ulysses via keyboard only. No need for mouse.
Pro Multiple preview and export options
The editor can export to Plain Text, RTF, Word, HTML, ePub and PDF with customizable styles for each option. It can also preview HTML directly in the browser.
Pro Inline formatting
There's no live-preview pane or an external previewer necessary. Ulysses displays styling inline.
Pro Includes features for not losing place
Ulysses has options for highlighting current line, showing line numbers and enabling typewriter mode. Typewriter mode defines a place on the screen where the cursor should be so eyes are kept focusing in one place on the screen.
Pro Syncs via iCloud
Content can be synchronised across devices via Apple's iCloud.
Pro Comprehensive documentation
Ulysses comes with an excellently written documentation that covers everything there is to know about the software, including an extensive list of keyboard shortcuts as well as short and sweet introduction to Markdown and its benefits.
Pro Allows the user to work anywhere and on any Apple device of their choice
Ulysses is available for both macOS and iOS. This, combined with the cloud syncing allows users to work on their projects using any Apple device they have at the time.
Pro Displays statistics including how long it takes to read the document
The editor tracks statistics that shows how many characters, words, sentences, paragraphs, and pages a document contains and estimated reading time for slow, average, and fast readers. The statistics display in a popover that can be torn-off so it's constantly visible.
Pro Helps get stuff done
Goals such as how many characters, words, sentences, paragraphs, lines or pages should be written can be set to help get motivated.
Pro Powerful organization features
Groups, tagging, and notes for each document.
Pro Helpful support
Staff is helpful in answering questions on how to use the app.
Pro A demo version is available
A time (10hrs) and usage limited demo for Ulysses III is available.
Con High effort to customize
A lot of time and effort is put in to make it specific to your needs.
Con Difficult learning curve
You'll spend a lot of time learning all the commands and modes supported in Vim. You'll then spend more time tuning settings to your needs. Although once it's tuned to your needs, you can take your
.vimrc to any machine you need and have the same experience across all your computers.
Con Poor support for external tooling
Many plugins depend on optional Python and Lua features, which may or may not be included in whatever binaries are available for your system. And without platform-specific hacks, it is difficult for plugins to operate in the background or use external tooling.
Con Poor feature discoverability
Though basic features like syntax checking, autocompletion, and file management are all available out of the box or with minimal configuration, this is not obvious to new users, who might get intimidated or assume they need to install complex plugins just so they can have this functionality. Other features new users might expect to find embedded in Vim, such as debugging, instead follow a UNIX-style model where they are called as external programs, the output of which might then be parsed by Vim so it can display results. Users not familiar with this paradigm will likely fault Vim for lacking those features as well.
Con Doesn't play nice with the system cut/paste mechanisms
This can be worked around somewhat if you disable mouse for insert mode. You can then right-click your terminal and use paste like you would anywhere else in a terminal.
But it still doesn't feel right when the rest of your system uses Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V, and you have a system clipboard manager, and so forth.
Con Requires Brain Mode Switching
When editing in vim, you have you use the vim keys; when editing in every other window on your PC, or in Word or Excel or other application, you need to use the standard system key combinations. Learning the vim combinations can actually make you SLOWER at everything else.
Con Difficult to copy, paste, and delete
Con User must remember commands instead of point at them in a menu
Con Foreign keyboards have a hard time on Vim out of the box
A lot of frequently-used keybinds are way harder to access on foreign keyboards because they use different layouts.
For example, Germans use the QWERTZ layout, while French use the AZERTY.
Con Consume brain energy for editing that should be used for logic
Text editing in vim is awesome, but it requires thinking about combination of commands. In other editors, you don't have to think about how to delete this part of code. You just think about how to implement a feature, what is a good design for this code. Even after you get used to using vim, it still requires your brain for editing.
Con Unintuitive mode switching
Con Slow when opening files with very long lines
A lot of very long lines can make Vim take up to a minute to open files, where a few other editors take only seconds to load the same file.
Con No smooth scrolling
Even with the GUI version, the lines jiggle line-by-line. If you are used to smooth scrolling, this is very annoying, especially when working with larger files.
Con Outdated UI
Con Works poorly out of the box with right-to-left
Con Extensibility isn't that great
While it has gotten better and some projects are slowly starting to build proper extension support, it still can't and by design never will achieve the extensibility of another editor like emacs.
Ulysses now operates on a subscription-based model. $4.99/month or $39.99/year. It is not currently possible to pay once and keep it.
Con Overwrites imported markdown files
When previously written markdown files are imported, they're converted to Ulysses' version of Markdown and original files are overwritten.
Con Proprietary file format
Text is saved in a database in proprietary format. Meaning, your notes can't be accessed other than through the app, and cannot be moved other than by exporting them.
Con Cannot render code blocks
You can go around this limitation, but it is complex and not so pretty looking as it is in other Markdown Editors.
Con Lacks a LaTeX-exporter
Con iOS and Mac versions have to be bought separately
The iOS version costs $24.99 and the macOS version costs $44.99. They have to be bought separately in order to be used on those devices.
Con Automatic switching of sheets can be confusing
Scrolling down when at the bottom of a sheet will switch to next sheet. When unexpected, this behavior can be confusing to some.
Con No proper right-to-left support in PDF
Ulysses lacks right-to-left support that was available in the previous incarnation of this software.