WriteApp: A New Take on Distraction-free Writing

Over the years, AppStorm has reviewed a number of writing tools. For writers, these apps can have special meaning, as many of us earn our livings by using these apps. A good web-based word editor can be indispensable in daily life, both for us and for many of our readers as well.

Whenever I stumble upon a new one I can not help but try it out. So was the case recently when I happened upon WriteApp, which bills itself as a “distraction-free editor”. It boasts support for markdown, live preview, public notes, post by email, and much more. Plus it is free to use, though you need to register for an account. It was something I knew I’d have to check out.

Getting Started

To register you will simply need to enter your email address and choose a user name and password. You will receive a confirmation email which also lets you know what WriteApp is up to — “Since we launched just almost a month ago we’ve been working on some great new features and use cases for Write.app”.

Once you have that step out of the way, you will be taken to the main screen. This consists of a title bar and side by side writing panes, though you only work in the one on the left.

The above screen is the default, but it is not the only view you have access to. You will find three small icons at the bottom of the screen towards the left side. The right one, when moused over, alerts you that you currently are using the “dark theme”. Click and the screen transforms to the “standard view”. This alternate look is much more in line with a blank Word document with one single page and no headline area.

Manage

The Manage area of the app, which can be accessed via the menu bar above the writing area, will take you to a slightly different view. This is the Notebook part of this web app.

Notebooks are displayed in the left column, while previews ran be viewed on the right side of the screen. All of this can be controlled from a drop-down menu at the top — just two choices here, “Filter by notebook” and “All notes”.

Settings

The Setting can also be accessed from the top menu bar. The options are contained in a series of tabs down the left side of the screen and serve, in many ways, to make the app social. You’ll have options to set your profile image, tweak your public profile and your account security, export your data, and more. Most of these options should be self-explanatory, but a couple of options certainly bare a closer look, for instance security and data exportation.

First is Security, which gave me high hopes for some sort of ability to save files and notebooks with encryption. But alas, no. The fact is that this option simply allows you to change your password.

Export Data gives the user the chance to get your data out, but when clicked it displays a message that the option is available to “Premium Accounts” only. When I clicked the link to see what the cost and details of a premium account were, I was automatically upgraded, with no questions asked.

However, returning to Export Data gave the following message:

“Please note this feature is in beta. There is no danger of data loss resulting from use of this feature however it may not work as expected. We’re working on improving this feature’s reliability and giving you more fine-grained control to allow you to export as much or as little data as you like”.

After passing that message and clicking the Export button I was greeted by a completely blank screen. I tried multiple times to ensure that it was not just a fluke of the page load or my connection, but it seems the beta is VERY early, and this function is not working at all.

Options

There’s more settings on each of your notes, in the form of options that you’ll access from the left icon at the bottom of the screen, adds the ability to save your writing to whatever notebooks you have created, add a post-slug and make the document public.

Once you have completed your tasks, there is a red “save” button at the bottom of the screen towards the right-hand side.

Not Ready for Prime Time

WriteApp was just launched a little more than a month ago, and I went into this having never used the service. That was somewhat intentional because I wanted to give a true first-hand impression. I love the simple, clean interface and the apparent social nature that the service seems to be going for. However, I am afraid that, at this point, the bad may still outweigh the good.

On the negative side, the first thing that jumps out is the lack of options. While the app aims to make things simple, which is a plus for those who wish to use it over a service such as Word, with its steep learning curve, it may be a bit too simplistic. There is also the whole “Premium” account thing — while the service lists this, there is no information about what is included in it or how much it will cost. Clicking on it simply upgrades you as opposed to providing that information. That is not a problem for now as it’s in beta and doesn’t ask for credit card information, but it’s certainly something I would like to know for the future, before I become too attached to using it.

In the end, I like the app, I really do. However, I can not say I would recommend it just yet. This one is more of a wait and see for the moment. But, the promise is there so I have hope.


Summary

An online word editor

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