Journal | Christofer Sandin

More productive writing with WriteRoom

I wrote an entry a while back where I presented my favourite Mac OS X programs in different categories since a couple of my friends just had bought Macs or were in the process of getting one.

Under the “Editors” heading I listed a couple of programs for day-to-day text editing such as TextMate and skEdit. I also added a short note about WriteRoom and wrote:

… sometimes you just want to write, then you fire up WriteRoom - one of the most retro user interfaces of all time. But it works, and it works really well.

WriteRoom has been released in version 2 since then and since I been writing quite a lot of things at work lately, both in article format and for customers, I’ve used it quite a lot.

There’s especially two things I love about the program;

1.) The interface

\"WriteRoom\" As you can see on the screenshot the interface is quite retro, and it gives me flashbacks from the first computer lessons at school where we had to learn how to type on ABC 80:s. The default is a black screen with green text on it. All colours and fonts are customisable so if you don’t like the black background, make it white instead. Or whatever.

\"WriteRoom\" The best thing about the interface, in my opinion, is that you only see the text you’re working on at the moment, no instant messaging, no mail, no desktop with icons, no other application windows, no nothing… It’s just the text and that’s all. I didn’t think it would matter that much but it makes it easier to focus on what to write.

Build in spell checking and other small bits of candy as discreet highlighting of the current row makes the writing as simple as writing in Word or any other writing application.

2.) The simplicity

It’s really easy to work in. Everything just works the way you want it to. It doesn’t do a lot of stuff, but for productive writing it’s great. And it’s works seamless with OS X - just hit Option-Tab to switch to Safari or any other program and copy read that paragraph and the just go Option-Tab back again and you’re alone with your text again… It doesn’t get in your way so to speak.

So, what’s new in version 2? First of all, it natively saves the files in normal .txt format (or rich text if you’re that kind of person…). So, it’s easy to continue to work with the text in other programs. The first version used an internal format, it worked but this is better. nice - but it’s easier to have to files in text format on the disk, both for back up and it makes it easier to share the text with others via e-mail, for instance.

There’s also a really hade “Edit in WriteRoom” option copied from TextMate, so if you’re writing a mail just press Ctrl-Option-O and you get the mail in WriteRoom. Finish Writing the text and then go Option-S and Option-W to get back to the mail with the content updated. Nice.

Think this sounds like something you’ll like? Great, there’s a free trial download at Hog Bay Software’s website. Enjoy.

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