There are so many minimal editors, and most seem to embrace markdown. I personally liked the approach that Ulysses 2 (now called Ulysses Legacy, I think) had before the company switched it to a markdown-centric program. Users could define their own markup and customize export options. With updates to OS X, now MacOS, that program became pretty unstable, and I think there’s a gap for a text editor that does what the old Ulysses used to do. I would like WriteRoom 4–or some other product–to resurrect and include the features that made the old Ulysses great. (Update – found that there was a compatibility update for Ulysses Legacy & Sierra, but I still like the idea of this feature in future versions of WriteRoom…)
Steve here; fellow Cocoa developer from North America – happy to find this news just now. I was on board with your pining for WriteRoom’s minimal customizable text editor back in the day. I bought a couple of versions, and from what I can tell, you helped set what is now a trend of similar apps. Congratulations if so. ^ _ ^
My main use case for WriteRoom (many times a day) has been a quick alternative to TextEdit for typing random stuff in window that I’ve previously tweaked to perfection, rather than a brash white one. I use it less lately because performance seems to falter under load, and I was about to finally say goodbye before learning you had set out to resurrect it. I also played with the theme-making a lot, but found the image rendering behaviour hard to predict when resizing; so I decided to settle for solid colours and have been content ever since.
Speaking for myself, if WriteRoom had overcome those little things, then my conception of it would have been “a better TextEdit,” and I’d probably keep using it for years. It wouldn’t have to do much for me to continue loving it in the aforementioned way, but it would have to be as quick and reliable as TextEdit is.
On the contrary “what would you not like to see” – I see people asking for Markdown, cloud sync, et cetera… which reminds me of other apps including the near-essential Ulysses, championing a lot of that stuff. Speaking again for myself: if WriteRoom tried to be Ulysses and fell short, then I’d just continue using Ulysses – the only reason I can think to aim for that would be to actually exceed it (a real challenge) or to be a lower-cost competitor.
My general complaint about the current trend of minimal editors is that they’re good, but… sort of quirky – it’s reminded me that I’ll take meticulous polish over bells and whistles when I’m really picking software companions. (It’s certainly inspired my own devopment philosophy too.)
Great! I keep on coming back to Writeroom even though it hasn’t been updated for quite a while. My number one suggestion -and a big reason why I keep on coming back to it- is to be able to start typing right away, i.e. open with a new document like it does now. Every other app opens with a finder window prompting you to open a document or create a new one. I mostly use Writeroom to jot down a quick note and want to get down to it immediately.
My workflow is WriteRoom + Git, and I’d like a couple of things related to that.
When a file that’s open in WriteRoom gets changed by another program (e.g pulling changes from a remote git repo) I wish WriteRoom would notice this and offer to reload, or just reload without asking. My current workaround is to close and reopen the file.
I don’t know whether this is related to Git, but WriteRoom often asks me “Do you want to save the changes made to the document …” when I close a document but really haven’t changed anything since last hitting Cmd+S and committing the file. It even happens when I haven’t changed anything at all since opening the document. I’ve learned from experience that the correct answer is “Save”, after which Git correctly shows I have no uncommitted changes. “Revert Changes” often backs out changes that have already been saved and committed. I find this very counterintuitive.
Unrelated to Git, but I often have several documents open in full screen windows side by side. After rebooting, WriteRoom reopens them all (usually) but doesn’t arrange them in the same order, which is annoying because the order is important to me. Particularly, I keep the document I’m actually writing on the left, so it’s next to the desktop that has the Git client, then the documents I’m referring to in decreasing order of usefulness.
Waiting for preview version of WriteRoom 4. My current wishlists:
Export files to other major formats like RTF, DOC, EPUB, etc.
Publishing to various Web services.
Localization. Would be great if I can translate my whole document to a different language inside the app.
One great feature ( i don’t know) which will make WriteRoom 4 again great. That one great feature should not be available in any other writing Mac app. just like WriteRoom discovered and made the tagline “Distraction free writing” famous in it’s early days for Mac users.
Writemator app is based on the old WriteRoom app for iOS. Updated for iOS 11 with all bug fixes and some some new features. Check it out if you are missing WriteRoom for iOS: WriteRoom for iOS lives on as Writemator
One thing I really want is a way to set a preference to default new documents to RTF. I use WriteRoom for essays and articles and often need italics and nested lists, and it’s a little thing, but it would be a nice streamlining feature for me.
And I’ll give my +1 to these things listed by others before:
Export control in multiple formats (esp lame but necessary doc/docx)
Time logging, either native or w/integration with another app
Framework for citations
Better handling of large files
That said, there’s much to be said for keeping it as simple/lightweight as possible. I’m still having major lag/incomplete document display issues with longer documents and it’s driving me nuts.
A way to email all the documents, I love Writeroom, but since my iPad is dying I feel the need to ask this: is there any way we can email the documents from the app to an email directly?
If not, PLEASE ADD IT.
I guess one year on - is it time for a progress report on v4? As a daily user of Writeroom since 1.0 (I think I got my free license for 1.0 from you in exchange for a tweet!), I would really like to NOT see it become bloatware. Obviously desirable would be the ability to work with a novel size documents without the machine locking up, a document library feature, the ability to split and merge documents and folding would be nice à la FT and that’s it. More is not needed.
It’s not so much bloat (I hope!), but just lots of work writing an editor up from scratch. And a bit of a slowdown in the worker (me) recently. Nothing in particular, just a bit more lazy then I used to be.
What I’m working on now
A fundamental feature of WriteRoom 4 is to make it a “rich text” markdown editor. This isn’t a new idea (see http://www.texts.io), but I think (for my vision anyway) it’s the best way. Markdown is the standard for writing, plain text documents have many benefits, but I hate dealing with the actual syntax as I write. I added a bunch of magic to FoldingText to try to work around that, but I think just switching to rich text editor style (but still saving/loading plain text Markdown) is better.
I just (2 days ago) got span (within single paragraph) level formatting working pretty well now. So for example to bold text, you just select and choose “bold” command it as you would in any rich text editor. Markdowns **'s are inserted automatically when you save, but you never type or edit around them.
Block level (paragraph) formatting is more difficult to figure out in some cases. In particular the trouble is how I should map it to my existing underlying outline model.
For basic block level types, such as headings it’s a pretty clear mapping. I will just set the “type” of the item that contains the heading to “heading”. Easy!
But it gets more complicated for block structures that contain other block structures. (such as blockquotes) There are standard ways to handle this sort of thing (internal items without text content of their own). But they complicate the API’s and editing model. I’m not sure what I’ll do here yet. I have a few ideas that I’m trying… at worst I might just not support problematic cases such as nested block quotes. Instead they would just be left in plain text form… still still possible, just not supported at model layer in editor.
Another thing that I’m unsure of is how much to use the underlying outline model. For example in Markdown level 1 headings don’t really contain level 2 headings. Visually we understand them that way, but structurally in the document a heading can’t contain other headings. For WriteRoom’s model it would make more sense to just have a “heading” type and to create a subheading you would indent one heading under another. Unfortunately I’m not sure how to map that back to markdown cleanly. For example:
In the above “outliner” style model it’s clear that Heading 1 contains text 1, Heading 2, and text 3. But when it gets saved out to Markdown the result would be:
# Heading 1
## Heading 2
Notice that text 3 appears to be part of Heading 2 in the Markdown output, where in the outline model it’s clearly a sibling to Heading 2, not part of it.
That got a little more detailed then I wanted, but that’s the details current WriteRoom progress.
thanks - well that looks like you’re doing more than an update to WR
i didn’t know about texts, i played around with it a bit after i read your post. it’s limited but quite good!
if only texts would give you a bit more control over what the text looks like on the screen, e.g. adjusting the line height and paragraph spacing
and custom themes.
also, i just remembered : there was a nice feature in the old ulysses called text trash, if you deleted some text using shift delete it would put it in a little window and you’d end up with a list of your deletions which you could reinsert/reuse somewhere else.
well good luck with all the work you have to do. hope you don’t grow too lazy in your dotage
I saw this post about the NYT’s efforts to build a new text editor, and they have some interesting ideas that might help inform WriteRoom 4 development.
I found particularly interesting the way they track changes, comments. Such features would probably be best added as plug-ins for WriteRoom 4? In any case, I’d really to have a dead simple way to commit changes and view history in my editor app, in the way presented here.
I’m a little late to the party, but my biggest wish would be individual ordering of different folders (provided Writeroom 4 has some sort of library). So one could have for example a journaling folder ordered by date, a general ideas folder that’s displayed in alphabetical order and a folder with chapters of your new book that you rearrange manually.