New user, churning away, here's why

Jason's Avatar


05 Feb, 2018 08:19 AM

Hi! I just grabbed Bear for both my Mac and my iPhone and signed up for a yearly membership. I'm going to cancel before I'm charged and I wanted to let you know why.

I think it's a beautiful app - it's very well done. This is why I grabbed it for both platforms and began syncing my notes over from Apple Notes.

But it's missing two of the main features that were driving me to look for a Notes alternative in the first place, plus it's got one feature that I find annoying enough to stop using Bear.

h2 Missing features first

I'd like more control over presentation. I realize that Bear is a Markdown editor and that this is intended to convey semantic meaning rather than presentation. Don't care. I want to be able to change text colors (not highlight) within specific spans of text and I want to be able to indent margins of blocks of text, not just indent the leading line.

Given that Markdown doesn't support these things, and given that text coloration and themes don't go very well together, I suggest that you implement this like other word processors do, by allowing your users to define custom named text styles (both character runs and blocks). And let them globally define the font, weight, text-decoration, color, and margins for their named styles.

Doing it this way allows the user to control their custom presentation while also putting the onus on the user to ensure that their custom presentation looks good with the theme they use.

And you could either add a nested menu of user styles to the Style popup or you could use a custom Markdown extension to specify a user style.

h2 Next, the annoyance

Seeing the markdown text formatting and things like "H1" in the margins makes me crazy and is a complete deal killer for me. I noticed it in the screenshots before even downloading the apps and was like "Ewww, gross, but they must just be showing those to let people know you can customize them". Nope, they're always there. Yuck. What's the point of having a beautiful presentation if you're ruining it by simultaneously showing the scaffolding?

I suggest that you only show the markup contextually. When the selection cursor is in a line that contains a line style (like H1 or >), make the Markdown formatting visible. When the selection cursor is within a character style like bold or italic or a link, change the presentation from rich text without Markdown symbols to the raw text representation.

I realize that this means that text would reflow as you move your insertion point around. That's fine - editing is a different modal activity from viewing/proofing, and I don't think that this would be disruptive.

Quip, which I otherwise hate, is a decent example of showing formatting scaffolding contextually and getting it out of the way to focus on presentation when not in the process of editing.

So, given that Notes does (sort of) support custom text color and (sort of) support text indentation and does not show me formatting scaffolding, I'm going to churn away from Bear after only a single day. But I'd love to come back. I hope that these suggestions are useful to you!

  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by Danilo Bonardi on 05 Feb, 2018 09:45 AM

    Danilo Bonardi's Avatar

    Hi Jason,

    h2 Missing features first

    I honestly think you are looking for something else here. Bear uses markdown and so does its users. MD has a strict set of rules but most of all it has a "philosophy" which separates content from its representation. What you are proposing is a Rich Text editor and there are plenty alternatives on the App Store.

    h2 Next, the annoyance

    Yes, I agree headers can be improved, but we can't avoid both h1/h2 and #/## we had to choose between one of those.

    I realize that this means that text would reflow as you move your insertion point around. That's fine - editing is a different modal activity from viewing/proofing, and I don't think that this would be disruptive.

    I disagree: If you have to pass from view to edit mode 20 times a day and the text move is a deal-breaking experience.

    Thanks for your feedback.

  2. 2 Posted by Jason on 05 Feb, 2018 10:37 AM

    Jason's Avatar

    Thanks for the response, Danilo. Yeah, I understand about Bear's philosophy, and I wasn't writing my suggestions in anger, but rather as constructive feedback. I think that you have the ability to be "not just a Markdown editor" and I described a couple of ways you might be able to do go in that direction (and keep me and people like me as customers in the process). Of course, you and your team need to do what you feel is right for the product.

    Good luck with the app's development!

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