Posts Tagged

writing

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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Keeping a diary is a great way to make sure you remember all the things that are going on in your life for years to come — and yet, it’s incredibly hard to make yourself regularly journal. It’s easier to write something funny on Facebook or Twitter and watch the comments and likes roll in. That’s somehow more rewarding right now. And yet, a private journal where you keep track of your deepest thoughts and fears, hopes and dreams — or just the mundane stuff that happens every day — can be far more rewarding in the long run.

You just need a private space to write that makes it easy to jot your daily thoughts down — and that’s exactly what the new web app Hermit is designed for. It’s just about your daily writing, and that’s it.

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Everyone’s taking the time to archive and share every beautiful thing they see on Instagram these days. Far more than just a simple snapshot, for most of us an Instagram photo requires just the right angle, just the right field of vision, and just the right filter. The finished work, far from being a real photo, is a little bit of art that anyone can make.

Short phrases are just as important these days. We think up the perfect witty 140 character phrases in response to everything happening around us, just for the @replies and retweets. But unlike Instagramed photos, there’s none of the timeless, artistic effects to our snippets of digital conversation.

Notegraphy is a brand new app that’s designed to bring the sense of wonder and essence of art to snippets of text. It’s a fun new way to share ideas, one that I’ve taken a liking to since I first tried it several months back.

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Box is one of those enterprise-focused startups that’s never made tons of sense from a consumer perspective. They’ve offered generous amounts of free storage just for signing in with their mobile apps, but that’s never been enough to get most of us to move away from Dropbox — especially since, originally, their desktop sync app wasn’t included for free. That hans’t stopped them from being the document sync tool of choice for many businesses, where the clunky UI didn’t matter as much as did the security and syncing features.

Then, there’s the apps, that great equalizer that stands to make or break any platform. Most of our consumer mobile apps are integrated with Dropbox, not Box, but on the web, Box has a solid library of apps that let it do much more than just sync files. It’s had a basic office-type app for some time now, along with a Mac and PC app that syncs Office document changes in real-time. But now, it’s going even further, with a brand new app aimed to compete in the collabortive writing space that’s taking off this year.

With Microsoft’s former Office VP Steven Sinofsky now on the Box team, it seems they’re more than ready to take on Microsoft — as well as Google and other online collaboration tools. And this time, they’ve got an app that looks nice enough, it’ll likely attract more than just enterprise customers.

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There’s nothing worse than suffering from writer’s block when you have deadlines looming large. As much as I try to keep my head above water, there are days when I just can’t seem to put my thoughts in order and get my assignments out the door. Thankfully, I’ve found a few ways to cope; my favorite way to deal with a difficult article is to create an outline of what I’m writing.

An outline is essentially a hierarchical set of ideas or notes, which can have as many or as few levels as you want. This is a great way to jot down all your thoughts for a piece, organize and arrange them and create a structure before you actually begin to write. There’s indeed an app for this, and it’s called Fargo.
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The web’s got more than its share of project management and social networking apps. There’s more online storage and team chat apps than you can keep track of. It’d be crazy to imagine launching a new project management or chat app today that doesn’t have a web app — the web’s the de facto platform for them like no other category of apps.

This year, the word processor market is the one that’s getting disrupted and oversaturated with web apps. We’ve got the old-timers – Google Docs and Microsoft Office Web Apps – alongside Apple’s still-in-beta iWork for iCloud web apps, and plenty of smaller competitors like Zoho and the many Etherpad clones. But then, there’s the brand-new writing and collaboration focused apps like Draft and Editorially, both of which are aimed at collaborative Markdown writing online.

Then, there’s Quip, the latest entry into the fray. Just launched today by a team that worked together on Google Maps, Google App Engine, and later Facebook, Quip bills itself as a “modern word processor that enables you to create beautiful documents on any device — phones, tablets and the desktop.” With native apps on iOS and a beta Android app, and a web app to cover desktops and laptops, it’s taking on the quest, as so many others have, to unseat Word as the king of word processing. (more…)

Sometimes it seems that apps comes in waves. It’ll seem like a whole category is stagnant, with nothing seriously new coming out in years — then all the sudden there’s several new upstarts competing for the crown with brand-new features. It’s felt like that this summer with iOS photo apps, and it’s been the very same with collaborative writing and editing web apps.

Google Docs was the state-of-the-art for document collaboration, and then Draft, and Editorially burst onto the scenes. We’ve looked at the former already, seeing how it is the word processor reinvented for the web, and how its grown to include a paid editing service, stats for your writing, plain text todos, and more. The latter, though, hasn’t picked up traction as quickly due to it still being in beta. Editorially is still interesting, and with hints being dropped of its future and expanded feature set, it’s more than worth a look.

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It was a only a little under 3 months ago that we called Draft “The Word Processor for the Web“. A just-launched app that I’d been testing with a few of my colleagues, Draft was one online writing app that’d captured my imagination — and got me to rethink how I write my articles.

If you’ve already tried out Draft, it needs no introduction. Otherwise, here’s a quick summary: it’s an online markdown writing app that saves version of your documents as you write, lets you open and save files on your online storage services, and has built-in collaboration tools to let others edit your work.

That in itself is a lot, enough to make quite the dent in the online writing market. But Nathan Kontny, the developer behind Draft, hasn’t stopped working, and today Draft has quite a few extra features that make it better without making it more confusing or cluttered.

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I’m always on the hunt for good plain text editors. I use them for just about everything now: I write in plain text for every one of my clients and for my own personal website. I even use Fountain, a Markdown-inspired plain text plain text syntax, to write movies. On my Mac, I’ve got a bunch of different apps that handle this kind of thing, but I’m not always on my Mac when inspiration hits. I’m not necessarily on my iPhone or iPad or Android devices either. Sometimes, I’m at a library.

So what then? I’ve been looking for a great plaintext/Markdown/Fountain editor that can handle all my needs that exists on the web. I haven’t found the perfect one yet (and really, what is perfect?), but Scribbler is so close that it’s nearly frustrating. Read on to find out why I think you might want to bookmark Scribbler. (more…)

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