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Author Topic: Pretty Good: a tool for writing  (Read 552 times)

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Bongo Bill

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Pretty Good: a tool for writing
« on: May 13, 2013, 12:17:50 PM »

There's a lot of writing software out there, but I couldn't find one that supported a workflow that I found comfortable. So I made my own instead!

PRETTY GOOD

"Pretty Good" is a simple, easy-to-use program intended to allow writers to easily manage a single draft as a collection of discrete sections. It runs in a browser, but all the data is stored locally. I've deployed a snapshot that you can use right now, but I recommend that you download a copy of your own off of GitHub and use it locally or host it on your own server.

HOW TO USE IT

First, replace my title and author's name with yours. The main editing area contains sections of text: put the text in the wider column and your notes in the narrower one. When your mouse is over a section, you will see some additional controls: the color-coded buttons indicate your progress on that section (I recommend understanding them, from left to right, as "Blank," "Unfinished," "Bad," "Pretty Good," and "Finished"), while the others are for adding, deleting, removing, and hiding sections.

Your progress will automagically be saved in your browser between sessions, but this can be somewhat volatile if you're not careful, so it's recommended that you make use of the "Export" and "Import" buttons to manually manage anything of substance.

The search box near the top will collapse the sections that don't match your input and expand the ones that do. I recommend putting #hashtags or some other distinctive syntax in your notes in order to get the most out of this feature.

I'm working on this every day, so features you request are likely to show up! In addition to your suggestions, I also intend to add a dynamic word count feature (which will no doubt be indispensable come NaNoWriMo), keyboard shortcuts (because using a mouse breaks up your rhythm), and making it less ugly.

OH

It was inspired by the supposed habit of P. G. Wodehouse of hanging each page of his unfinished manuscripts up on the wall, and moving them higher as their quality improved, only considering it ready for publication once all the pages were uniformly high. In a similar fashion, in Pretty Good, each "page" of text (which can, of course, stand for anything - one passage, one page, one scene, one chapter, whatever) can be labeled with a color-coded progress indicator and accompanied with notes indicating what you hope to accomplish therewith.

This program is still very much a work in progress, and I agree that as it stands now, it is neither pretty nor good. I just completed the core editing features this afternoon, I thought some of you might be interested to try this early version.

If you have a bug report or a feature request, you can put it here or on the GitHub page, and I promise I'll take it under very serious advisement.
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Healy

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Re: Pretty Good: a tool for writing
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2013, 08:03:55 AM »

I'm using this to write an Invisible Cities parody, which works out really well! I may use it for more serious projects later on as well. Everything is working pretty well, no real bugs to report.

FEATURES I WOULD LIKE TO SEE: Support for bold, italic, etc. type. This is the one thing I would consider to be absolutely essential. If nothing else implement italics.

It might also be nice to make it a bit clearer the sections on the left are for notes and stuff. For a while there I was wondering why they were so big. I'm not sure how you would do this, though.

Also pretty sweet: if the notes section automatically took the unfinished color when you typed something in the right.
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Bongo Bill

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Re: Pretty Good: a tool for writing
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2013, 02:20:43 AM »

Rich text is unlikely to be implemented soon, if ever, due to the huge number of buggy as shit edge cases that would be introduced by its presence. I won't rule it out because who knows what might happen once I'm done with keyboard shortcuts, but for the time being, Pretty Good is purely a plain text editor. You can put markup in your plain text, but anything that causes rich text to appear in the editor area is currently unsupported, apart from how it makes the first line of your notes bold (a hint that you could put a title there).

The workflow is: use Pretty Good to compose the text, then use the Export button to get it as agnostic plain text, which you can then format as desired in another program. To put markup in your source text, I would recommend using Markdown, which you can then convert to whatever you want after exporting.

Automatic categorization as Unfinished is a good idea, though. I like that.
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Bongo Bill

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Re: Pretty Good: a tool for writing
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2013, 10:49:40 AM »

I've put some keyboard shortcuts in, as described in the README. Also made the menu a bit less dumb.
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