The award winning iOS writing app Writer has recently been in the spotlight for good and bad reasons. The good news is that Information Architects (iA), the company behind Writer, has released Writer Pro, which touts some useful features.

iA’s Writer Pro maximizes the minimalist text editor

Syntax Control is a far more powerful version of the Focus mode in the original Writer, which faded out all sentences except the one that you were working on. Writer Pro lets you do the same thing for different types of words — the idea is to make it easier for writers to edit themselves by searching for repeated terms, unnecessary adverbs, and so on. “Syntax Control was planned as an original feature of iA Writer,” says Reichenstein, “but since it is a feature for editing, not drafting, it never really sat right in the basic concept of iA Writer which was, in one word: just write.”

The bad news? iA seemed to try and preempt other folks from implementing similar features by indicating that they’re willing to protect those features via legal battles. Such a stance is underestandable for new features and technology, but the issue is that some of the new features we’re talking about are intrinsically tied to a new NSLinguisticTagger Class that Apple has included in iOS for developers to harness. As a result, it’s hardly surprising that it has sparked off a healthy debate as to whether they’re being proactive, or just being jerks about it.

John Gruber of Daring Fireball and Markdown fame tweeted a pretty witty response to the whole deal.

The Internet is becoming increasingly vocal about the whole deal. Marco Arment has chimed in, and many folks are also blatantly telling others not to support iA.

iA obviously hasn’t been blind to the whole situation, as the company has apparently backtracked slightly by tweeting that it has dropped its patents pending. The obvious guess would be that this change of heart is related to the suddenly backlash from the Internet, but at least it shows that iA is paying attention.

Love them or hate them. I do like a previous interview with Oliver Reichenstein, the founder and director of Information Architects, in which he talks about the design and concept of the app.

The principles of good design have not changed. Dieter Rams said: “Good design is as little design as possible. Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials.” This applies to all disciplines of design, including web design. Web design looks like graphic design because it appears visually flat, but it is actually closer to electro-mechanical engineering than any form of drawing. As a web designer you need to consider what people do with their hands and heads. You need to design your products in a way that requires minimal input, and delivers maximal output.