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Dream feature for a Writing app


#1

In the writing subreddit, some kid has dreams of writing a writing program and asked for desired features. I (writing as StarDog2) listed my “dream” features list, and tried to source examples from other software. I don’t expect ANY software to meet all of these requirements, but it would be great if there were!

This is my DREAM list for ALL authorship/writing apps

  • Tabbed writing format (NOT Split screen) See Atomic Scribbler
  • SHOW ALL normally hidden control characters (WordPerfect’s show all is/should be the industry standard!)
  • Integration with Post writing Edit tools (Grammarly, etc. See Atomic Scribbler’s ability to integrate with SmartEdit)
  • Windows, Chrome, Android versions
  • Timeline Capability
  • Import notes from OneNote and Google Keep
  • Import XMind and Freemind Mind maps (See scrivener’s ability to import scrapple diagrams)
  • Scene level text (not just Chapter)
  • Integration with Post writing Edit tools (Grammarly, etc.)
  • Dark theme,
  • cork boards are over rated, IMO. Anything you can do in the Corkboard, you can do elsewhere. if you can’t come up with new functionality for the CB, skip it! Put that development time into something more useful.
  • Display any notes for any document displayed in an open tab (not just display ALL notes).
  • Ability to store and retrieve projects from OneDrive and back up to an external drive or thumb drive
  • Ability to Zip the entire project for back up from within the application would be great.
  • Reading level analysis (See Quoll Writer - best feature of QW and no one else has it!)
  • Ability to mark Scenes, Chapters, & ACTS done
  • Project wide search and replace not just for phrases and words, but for punctuation, control characters, etc
  • NO subscription fee. Free would be ideal, but I’d rather pay a one time licensing fee.

Atomic Scribbler comes very close in my mind, closer than anything I’ve seen so far. I own Scrivener, but I am finding Atomic Scribbler more useful on a day to day basis.


#2

Let me second @GlenBarrington final comment. Have used Scrivener on both MAC and Windows, but am finding AS much more to my liking.

I am currently in the process of extracting my notes from OneNote (into the venerable MyNoteKeeper, which allows me to save as RFT). I particularly like that I can “get at” my AS files. In the past couple of years I’ve found myself locked into particular files formats. I stopped using TheBrain for this very reason.

Can I add a couple of wishlist items to this excellent list:

Cut and paste between the Document and the Research.

The option to show Documents and Research in the left sidebar at the same time.

Having said that, AS is becoming my daily writing tool.


#3

One other ‘dream’ function I’d like is the ability to create a new project out of an old. If I have a new project that looks a lot like an old project, I’d love to be able to open an old project, delete the stuff I don’t need and create a new project with just the stuff I know I need.

Either that, or – be able to export a section as a 3 dimensional set of files (keeping folder/scene/notes structure), and then import it into a new/different Atomic Scribbler project.

OR – select a folder and drag and drop a folder from one project to another project.

I sure could use some way to move components from one project to another project with the structure intact.

I’d love to be able to “modularize” and re-use as much my previous output as possible. This is the one area where Scrivener has A.S. beat.

Now that I think about it, having some way for USERS to share themes, or creation components could be good for marketing Atomic scribbler. By creating a ‘community’ of users who can write about and share templates or themes with each other, you encourage bloggers to write about A.S. and offer components to others. It creates the impression that A.S. is what the truely productive people use.


#4

A lot of great stuff there Glen.

I think writing software like this is very much about personal taste and what fits a particular writer’s writing style. Some writers care little about the UI and care deeply about the extended features, seeking one app to do everything - which might account for a lot of Scrivener’s more complex features. Other writers need the UI to be pretty, appreciate simplicity and lack of clutter and are happy to use other apps for different parts of the writing process.

With Atomic, I’m aiming to sit between the two - growing the features but keeping the simplicity. The next release - due in a couple of weeks - will contain some changes to the UI structure which should make it more intuitive for new users and easier for regular users to access the different sections.

@Jon
It will go part way to giving you your Document and Research trees together.

Cross project manipulation: copying and moving between projects, etc. is on the list, but it’s very low priority.


#5

I agreed that simplicity is core and really at the heart of AS’s strength. Scrivener is outrageously complex and often that complexity gets in the way of the writing.

I note that since I discovered AS, my usage of Scrivener has fallen off. I will finish out the existing projects in that, but will initiate the new work entirely in AS.


#6

FWIW, here’s a summary of my workflow with AS:

I’ve reduced my use of Scrivener quite a lot also. It looks like I’m continuing to use Scrivener as a multi-topic idea management environment, with dozens of essays, stories, fragments, poems, outlines, research, notes, ideas, etc., all organized in a big hierarchy. The complexity of what I’m storing there seems to fit with the overall complexity of Scrivener itself.

But when I’m writing – one manuscript, please! That is what I’m using AS for, and it’s a sheer relief from the entanglements of both my “everything in one place” idea management system and Scrivener itself.

The workflow starts in various places, from post-its to mobile to dictation and dinner napkins, and migrates into Scrivener to get merged with compatible materials. As I review the grand complications in Scrivener, one or more lumps of material will begin to stick together, and I’ll pull them out into a single coherent project in AS.

Then, all the real writing and editing takes place in AS. I really appreciate that AS can support the structural diversity of the incoming lumps from Scrivener, but AS also helps me blend everything together into one clear piece.

When the ms is finally “finished,” to the point that I don’t anticipate significant revisions, but before serious style or copy editing, I move it into InDesign. I find that when a piece looks finished & printed, I read it very differently. As I design the book, story, or article in InDesign, certain kinds of subtlety become quite obvious, and a considerable amount of detail editing takes place (often based on reading aloud to myself) – but usually no major reorganization activities.

When I’m really sure it’s finished in InDesign, I output to PDF, and read it aloud to 2-3 very attentive (and tolerant) critics, who of course trip over numerous little things I’d missed. Some iterations later, I send the PDF out to other critics who read without benefit of the author “assisting” by reading aloud. It’s fascinating how differently a “reader” will react, compared to a “listener.” For one thing, the inflections and skills of the reader can cover up all kinds of clumsiness that doesn’t work at all when read to oneself.

Finally, I send it to The New Yorker, and they mail me a huge check a few weeks later. :joy:

Allen


#7

An interesting workflow, Allen! I’ve been trying to do that with TWO concurrent iterations of Atomic Scribbler. Maybe I should try your WF since I already own Scrivener.

However, I would suggest that if The New Yorker really valued your work they’d send an armored car with cash. :wink:


#8

When I was a cub reporter back last century, I edited a Hall of Fame editor and columnist’s work. Being a high school junior at the time, I thought it was a pretty big honour. But, as The Boss said, “No writer can proofread his own work because he puts in the missing words and letters as he reads more often than not. We made the mistake once and we can very well make it twice. So, that’s why you read my copy and I read yours.”

So, here we are four decades and a bit later. I left the journalism field after a couple of those decades, but I still like to write. NOW, I have the computer read me what I have written while I sit there with my eyes closed. I wish I didn’t have to hit the pause button so often. The awkwardness of a phrase, a missing word, repetition, etc. It all comes out in the hearing. I think it’s the absolute best way to handle self-editing before handing it over to somebody with better judgement. With today’s tech, it’s quite possible to get a pleasant read of your material. And if you like to hear yourself speak … well, this way of proofreading will make your day.

GM


#9

Oh, and my presentation copy inevitably gets put into Pagemaker. Yep, I’m THAT old and set in my ways. :blush:


#10

In response to your comment about The New Yorker, it has … hang on a sec., there’s an armoured car pulling up …


#11

I’ve tried text-to-speech off and on over the years, and I find myself getting distracted by the odd cadences and occasionally idiotic pronunciations. It’s definitely worthwhile, though. One exercise I would love to do, if I knew someone who was willing to do it (and had sufficient read-aloud skills) is to have a human read my work to me. This would be especially useful if she/he did it cold, without any prior exposure to the text. Discovering where someone stumbles or has to back up is – to my mind – tremendously important. There are so many ways a person can mis-read some text, sometimes more often than not.

On a vaguely related note, I’m disappointed that our cultural standards for text presentation are so reluctant to tolerate graphic emphasis in printed materials (especially books). Sometimes emphasis is just used to compensate for clumsy style, but at other times it can be very helpful in clarifying the writer’s intent. I use it extensively in emails, and in certain discussion groups (see what I did?). Parenthetically, I’m also surprised that we don’t have a well-established convention for “format-critical text” – such as one would type into an input field in a computer. Books on computer usage abound in variations on “type this” examples. If we’re so picky about using italics for emphasis, why are we so vague about specifying official input?

Oh dear, I’ve started off on a rant. Sorry about that.

Allen


#12

Following @G_Mugford point: “No writer can proofread his own work because he puts in the missing words and letters…" That was drilled into me as a junior reporter. The advice I was given was to read the piece paragraph by paragraph, but start at the final para and work backwards. Reading the paras out of context will help you pick up all the spellos, typos and missing words. Sounds bizarre, but it works.


#13

Page what? Oh. My goodness. I once spent a few weeks in the late 1990’s working with the Adobe product managers to determine which was better for my (then) company – PageMaker or FrameMaker. Although I had used Aldus PageMaker some years before, and then moved to Ventura, the Adobe guys and I eventually had to give up – too much overlap, and too many odd trade-offs. Couldn’t decide. Eventually InDesign came along (and I skipped Q). It’s fairly incredible to me that PM is still available from Adobe (free), but it doesn’t install on any Wintel after Win 7 (still viable on Mac OS 9). Of course FrameMaker is still going strong at Adobe, but they keep it outside the Creative Cloud and focus it on their very expensive help/documentation suite. I have no idea how much better than InDesign it may be for large documents. I’ve done several 600-page books in InDesign without significant issues. But now the choice between PageM and FrameM is just as hard – Free but frozen, or $999 but just updated.

Allen


#14

My old company Datascan used to send text (usually bound books) to the Philippines for keystroking. The typists would cut off the spine, duplicate the book, and have two non-English-speaking teams type it into the computer. When they did a byte comparison of the two files, virtually all the typos were found, since they tended to be random. The accuracy usually was better than 1 typo per 10,000 keystrokes. For numerical material (e.g., actuarial tables), they used four teams and checked all locations that weren’t unanimous.

I’m pretty good at proofing my own work because by the time I get to that stage I’m so sick of it that I don’t get into the content at all. But I still miss tons of typos. As a general rule, I always assume that any proofing pass (at any level) won’t get more than 80% of the remaining issues. At Datascan, my 88-year-old mom dropped in one day, picked up a book just back from the Philippines service, and said, “Oh, look. They mispelled Chicago!”.

Allen


#15

Allen,

I actually taught a Pagemaker course for night school for a bit. I’m fairly adept and I DO have it running in a virtual machine because it’s like that well-worn tool that’s the first thing you touch when you have to produce something. Feels comfortable and I get all the effects I need. I DO have InDesign and I have a healthy hate for it. They changed JUST enough things from PM that I wondered if the coders were just putting in ‘keep job alive’ changes. I’m currently rewriting my systems software for a tool & die maker client and I was darned if I was simply going to reproduce the same interface from the software we’ve been using for the last quarter-century. At least I THINK I will be adding new functionality to the whole thing. Different kind of writing of course.

I ran into Framemaker at a weekly ad flyer biz that I briefly joined . Gag me with a spoon in the then current vernacular. Quark was never in any proximity, but I know the paper I was at went to it in the immediate aftermath of computerizing, but then switched to InDesign about two years later. Got out just in time, I guess.

By the way, I call my writing ‘parenthetical writing.’ I’m constantly going off sideways. Guess that’s why I treasure Billy Connolly as the best comedian in the world. His concerts normally have a single through-line story that maybe totes up to 15 minutes of the two hours he’s on stage. It’s the way I think. I know as a programmer I’m supposed to think in straight lines. But I don’t. Ergo, a story about how I think and write, in a comment about desktop publishing software.

GM


#16

Gee, GM, it sounded right on topic to me.

And I can certainly empathize with anyone’s first impressions of InDesign. There are good reasons for a lot of it’s wildly counter-intuitive approach, but my first few months using it were extremely off-color. I just finished explaining to three different people, in three companies, why deleting 5 blank pages in the middle of a book results in (a) 5 blank pages remaining in the middle of the book, and (b) the unexpected appearance of 5 pages of overset text wayyyyy off at the end of the book. It would be terrific if Adobe could come up with a way to make that seem intuitive and discoverable!

Allen