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Time tracking apps are among the most predictable apps. They’re all designed to keep track of the time you’ve worked on your projects so you’re fair to both your clients and yourself. Then, the apps typically let you turn your timesheets into invoices, and perhaps track time on the go. Boring, but necessary.

And then there’s the new Timely. I’m pretty certain you’ve never seen a time tracking app like this. It’s the one time tracking app that you’ll actually want to use, it looks so nice. Plus, it’s simpler than most to use, thanks to its drag-and-drop calendar (apparently a popular new trend).

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I’ve always been in the lookout for tools to make niche writers’ lives easier. Screenwriting is a product category that I’ve become really passionate about. It’s an area of interest for me — screenwriting is a hobby of mine, and I’d love to see the tools used to write them improve. After all, we’ve all been stuck with the same few standards for years — Final Draft being chief among them

Final Draft is really unwieldy, though. It’s one of my least favourite programs, and for a while, it was also one of my most used. Today, I spend a lot of time using apps like Slugline, which use a fantastic Markdown-inspired markup syntax called Fountain (developed in part by John August, the writer of Big Fish). But for many people, a new syntax can only do so much in our Internet-based world. Enter Writer Duet, an online screenwriting app built for writers who want to collaborate on the go. Read on to find out what makes this product so unique in a sea of contenders.

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There’s so many new focused writing apps for the web this year, it’s hard to keep track of them all. But they almost all have one thing in common: they require you to use Markdown for formatting. You could just write in plain text, but if you want italics or bold text, or just want to add a list or a link, you’ll have to use Markdown. It’s not hard to use, per se, but not everyone loves typing extra characters for formatting. That’s why there’s still the tried and true rich text formatting like you’d see in Word, Pages, and even the Gmail editor. It’s just not something most focused writing apps use these days.

If you love rich text editing, and still love focused writing apps without all the clutter and nonsense, you’re in for a treat. The brand-new drft is just what you’ve been waiting for, and we’ve got exclusive invites for our readers. (more…)

Collaborative writing has been one of the many things the web was supposed to simplify, and yet it’s still as broken as it’s ever been. Live co-editing like Google Docs offers only works for a very few niche scenarios, and newer tools like Draft and Editorially only work great for one writer and one editor giving feedback on a finished work. And the old style of emailing documents back and forth — or the slightly updated version of saving them to a shared Dropbox — is still far from ideal.

There’s one tech tool that’s seemed promising recently, though: git. The geeky version control system used most famously by GitHub is designed to let software developers collaborate on code, and is the very reason people around the globe can contribute to open source projects. Code is just text, of course, so earlier this year two dozen mathematicians wrote The HoTT Book collaboratively using GitHub. That was quite an undertaking, both for its unprecedented collaboration and for using git for writing even when it wasn’t exactly designed for it.

But what if GitHub was reinvented around writing? That’s what Penflip, a new git-powered writing app, aims to find out.

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Web apps are typically single-purpose: you use one app for one thing. That’s in sharp contrast to most desktop apps, where you might use the same app (hello, Excel!) for dozens of different things. Being focused is great, but it can also sometimes be limiting.

Take Microsoft Office Access, for example. For years it’s been the go-to app for small businesses when they need a new form-driven internal app. Instead of buying some new app, anyone with the tiniest bit of computer skills can put together a custom solution without too much trouble. It might not be as powerful as a full-featured app for the same purpose, but it gets the job done without too much trouble.

Papyrs, an intranet tool we covered a couple years back, has recently added a new Apps mode that makes it easy for anyone to turn a Papyrs form into a custom database app. It’s Access, reinvented for the web.

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Web apps, for the most part, have taught us that we didn’t need all the features rich desktop apps offered. Most people don’t need every feature in Word, so Google Docs or even simpler tools like Draft were enough. Mobile apps have mostly continued the trend, with apps that have far fewer features.

The Lucidchart team has shown us, though, that web apps don’t have to be basic. Their web app takes on Visio and OmniGraffle — and does a great job competing. And now, they’ve made yet another full-featured app for the web, this time to revolutionize rich print and digital publishing with the brand-new Lucidpress.

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If your library is anything like mine, it’s likely filled with great books that you’ve only half-read. You bought them with the best of intentions, but it’s just hard to find the time to read all the books that come out. Plus, it can be rather expensive to keep an up-to-date tech book library.

Safari Online, started in part by O’Reilly Press, has been the online tech library of record for years, with an extensive catalog of books from O’Reilly, Wiley, Peachpit, and more for your online reading pleasure with a subscription. And now, they’ve reinvented themselves with the new Safari Flow. More than an online eBook library, it’s an attempt to make longform books relevant to the Twitter generation of professionals.

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In the past couple of years, cloud storage has become more and more popular with people. There are so many different options to choose from: Dropbox, Bitcasa, Box, Google Drive and so on. One of the many advantages of cloud storage is that you can easily share a document with someone else. For example, if I create a document and put it into Dropbox, it is very easy for me to share a link with someone. I don’t have to type out an email and attach the document to it. That process, although easy, can be cumbersome and has some definite downfalls.

Now days, with so many people using cloud services, you almost expect most people that you share documents with to be using them. The problem though, is that there are so many different services to choose from and not only that, but what if you are sharing documents back and forth with someone who isn’t using a cloud service you are using?

Let’s say, for example, that you are using Dropbox, but the person you are wanting to share files back and forth with doesn’t use a cloud sharing service. That can definitely be a pain for you and the other person. That’s why today I am going to be reviewing a web application that will let anyone upload documents to your cloud service, whether they are using it or not. Let’s take a look at EntourageBox and see how the cloud can make you collaborative.

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Along with spreadsheets, presentations are one of the main “attractions” of the corporate-style workplace (warning: sarcasm). These multimedia productions should be engaging, but sadly, few of us have the presence of delivery, nor the content, to provide something truly compelling for the audience.

And then there’s the start-to-end in-computer construction and delivery of a presentation, which can often be a struggle — magnified, if you need to collaborate with colleagues. Within a team, the collection and organization of the required media can be a stilted process if you are working remotely, and getting the finished product to function properly anywhere outside of your chosen native software is often the cause of much frustration.

Bunkr is a new web-based platform which is hoping to ease most of these presentation-related pains. The French startup aims to provide all the tools needed to create your slideshow, from the cherry-picking of content, right through to the publication of your masterpiece in browser-friendly HTML5. But can one cloud-based service really offer the all-round game to make presentations easy?

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Web-based note taking and writing apps are a dime a dozen these days. There is no dearth of choices irrespective of whether you want a quick & simple note-taking tool or a feature-packed writing app with more functionality that you can shake a stick at. Then there are bells & whistles like mobile access, synchronization with cloud services and more.

Wri.pe is a fairly new app that tries to do a lot of those things in the attempt to become your go-to service for all writing and note-taking needs. It is a simple, web-based, mobile-device ready note taking tool with a page-full of features to boast of. I took it for a drive to see if it replaced any of my staples. Here’s what I thought.

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