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Author Topic: Idea: Turn Notepad into WYSIWYG Word Processor  (Read 4731 times)

Paul Keith

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Idea: Turn Notepad into WYSIWYG Word Processor
« on: February 07, 2009, 01:38 PM »
Read First!: Post is separated into three parts. Idea contains the actual functionality. Why? contains my reasonings. Inspiration contains what led me to this idea. To summarize, if the article is too long, just read the Idea section.


Create a notepad with WYSIWYG outlining formatting using ASCII characters.

[expired link to external site removed]

If possible, also create the ability to create multiple templates as well as a user friendly template creator.

Finally a post generator that functions similarly to WriteMonkey's repository mode except the other screen turns the text into a read-only mode with options to highlight and annotate the files. (if possible) This could also be saved as a separate file.


Everyone who's browsed any guide on Gamefaqs or read a .txt e-book knows that it's possible to format text for outlining.

Yet one flaw with treepads and even worse, word processors is that they're slower if you just want to create a simple "sticky". Not only do you need to export them but many treepads have that tree-list cluttering up space.

Worse, often times most casual users don't really need these tree-lists IMO. I mean if they can organize their notes with just explorer, 9 times out of 10, they still get the same hierarchy through tree-lists.

The reverse also holds true. I don't know of anyone who is disorganized at organizing their file browser's folders and then go to a notetaker coming off better organized.

To me for bare files, what traditional notetakers help in doing is give the users confidence to experiment in an isolated empty plate.

Especially with modern launchers like Launchy and FARR, often times it's not the organization that's the problem, it's the snappiness and the speed and then just the trust to go back to notepad rather than a heavier rtf exporting wordpad much more a word processor.

Right now I see a niche left by the gap between deviantopian's Note and Pawsoft's FASS

With Note, deviantopian got the idea right by making casual users (especially those who've never known Launchy and RocketDock) the "Sticky Note" connection and confidence to go back to using their text editors for notetaking.

What Note missed though is the GUI to go where few notetakers have gone before: The power of the GUI as what e-book readers like microbook have taken advantage of.

I don't blame people for not considering this feature. In fact, I think some people might even be laughing at me for this idea.

The world has moved on. The casual user sees Microsoft Word. The beginning user is trained to think that MS Office is where you write stuff on. I can't say I disagree. I just think there's a gap left here.

Pawsoft may not have had the same vision, but they got one thing right: The convenience of the GUI text editor that chucks out text editor friendly formatting is underrated and fills a hole certain freeware notetaking users desire:

Pawsoft got that it isn't that the world has moved on. Certainly from a business standpoint and a casual standpoint, it has...


If people today are still trying to combine the really old and the really advanced with the really new. (ex. Vimperator, a Firefox extension that aims to turn Firefox into a VIM web browser) then why can't the less old, the less advanced, the less needy of a word processor users be catered for either?

The Post Generator:

Why can't these not so advanced but oh so annoying little "casual user" quibbles be addressed and supplied for?

Why??? Is it only cause I am the only one who wants it? (In a general sense)

Maybe...but here's some other head turning programs that were designed for us lazy "left by the new generation and too simple-headed to adapt to the really advanced" casual users that ends up improving OS functionality so much, even some non-casual users appreciate these program for being there. (to the point of creating even advanced copies of these programs)

Filter in a box - Woop dee doo! What big group of people really asked for this? The advanced users would just say to organize your start bar better and the modern casual users don't have enough programs to find this special

Singular bookmarks out of the browser - You can hear the advanced users groaning about this. "That's what bookmarks are for! They say." Meanwhile the casual users are all going, "OMG, did you like know that my browsaaahhh could do this little thing where I click on the desktop and it opens up MySpace?" *snore, forgets feature for a few days, brags about it again and ignores using it again*

Type Stuff in Find Box Thingamajig - You can already hear some of the power users pointing out how the terminal and commandline already does this a whole lot better and some of the hipper power users would easily recommend Google Desktop as a superior indexer and the modern casual user would already be going "Um...keyboard shortcuts??? What's that? OMG stop using Alien Speech to communicate with me. *SLAP!* :mad:"

I'm not saying this idea would turn such heads as these other concepts but all I'm saying (and I apologize for sounding like a broken record) is that I think there's a big enough niche for this program to fill that it's worth developing.


I just listened to an audio of David Allen saying that he loves using Word's outlining feature and I thought "Yada...yada...ok, David I get it. Lots of people love Word's outline. I'd probably even consider it the number 1 *casual user* user suggestion for OpenOffice that often gets ignored by OO developers and fans but David, opening two word processor windows are soo slow."

I then went and forget about it.

Later, I suddenly decided I wanted to jot down something (to which I forgot when I went to write this post) and then I thought:

"Should I put it in OneNote? Nah. It's only marginally slower than Word."

"The Form Letter? Nah. I need that list in and out like a common .txt"

"YeahWrite? Nah. Still have to export it to rtf eventually."

...and then it hit me that I already have an older related list in my .txt collection and then I realize: "Lately I've been going back to these .txt files for writing stuff and especially with Launchy and Rocketdock, they are just as fast and if not easier to locate then my other notetakers but what's missing?

I then realize I miss having a button to hit a key for bulleting, headings and all the other common wordpad formatting like having B, I, U and highlights to emphasize text and then I realize... wait...I could do this in Notepad!

Boy, how I regret not learning Gamefaq's way of formatting it's text for easier reading. I considered learning it now but then I slapped myself in the forehead.

Damn! How am I sure Gamefaq's way of formatting text is the best? I mean not only are there several separate versions for each user written FAQ, there's also the problem that no one really has a notetaker to test which standard of formatting is the best and easiest to use.

It was then that I thought it would be great to use FASS's model for notetaking rather than for saving temporary forum's posts and hopefully have some people be interested in using it as a notetaker that maybe the community could decide on which template is the best based on several user shared templates.

It sort of hit me that there's a good chance that not many people would like it especially considering how many people who are using .txts for notetaking probably prefer TodoTxt's scripting and many casuals are probably on the OneNote bandwagon but then I remember how much I loved FASS and how much I thought: "Gosh darn it! It might not be a killer app and it doesn't save the world of computer efficiency but I'm glad someone actually made a program for this and no matter how abandoned it is and how ghost town the forums might be, I'm still glad the program is there!" ...and so I decided that this forum post is worth at the very least, written, if not read.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2013, 01:31 AM by mouser, Reason: removed nonworking link »


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Re: Idea: Turn Notepad into WYSIWYG Word Processor
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2009, 07:32 PM »
2Paul Keith
While I was reading your post I couldn't get off one link from my had:

BTW Interesting point of view you've got (with some parts taken from my mind ;) ).


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Re: Idea: Turn Notepad into WYSIWYG Word Processor
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2009, 06:14 AM »
Maybe you want something like a desktop wiki.
it's plain txt, has basic formatting, and even easy linking between notes.
The one I like now is called zim. But it's not too easy to install on windows (perl required) and not portable... so still looking.

I do use OneNote for what you describe, though, as it search is very good (even inside images).

Paul Keith

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Re: Idea: Turn Notepad into WYSIWYG Word Processor
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2009, 06:53 AM »

Thanks for the link. I prefer markdown myself when I was using Helipad Notes as an online notetaker. The problem with markdown though is that it relies on a post generator to make it be easily read by casual users where as an ascii formatted text can be copy pasted to any text editor and still be readable.


Nah, Zim isn't what I'm looking for. In a way, this is kind of like the anti-wiki.

Where as desktop wikis make it easier to search for tons of text at the price of formatting all notes like that of a "table of content", this allows you to pretty much copy paste any kind of text and have it be read by even the most basic of text editors.

As far as Onenote, no offense. I just find it to be Wordpad layered around YeahWrite's interface with additions tailor-made for the modern needs of people like audionotes and screen clippings and it's great for what it does but I never really understood what people found really "killer app" in it and the few OneNote blogs I've seen and users I've asked never really enlightened me to this appeal although in this case, I'm not really saying this to bash OneNote but rather to point out how both the idea of a ASCII WYSIWYG editor is different from OneNote as the latter still has many things that slow down notetaking (requires exporting, WYSIWYG formatting, images, sidebar, etc.) but at the price of catering for people who rely less on text snappiness and portability and more on formatting and organizing notes.


Btw for a more direct hands-on example of what I'm talking about, try copy-pasting this text and only risk ruining the alignment and not the totality of the contents (because it doesn't rely on direct formatting) and even though most OS's come with rtf-capable word processors, the fact that it totally throws out advanced word formatting allows it to be even snappier than opening wordpad or OneNote's temporary notes because you can use any notepad on it and have the formatting still follow it.)
« Last Edit: February 08, 2009, 06:57 AM by Paul Keith »


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Re: Idea: Turn Notepad into WYSIWYG Word Processor
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2009, 07:45 AM »
The new version of Writemonkey (0920) has markup support which is based on Markdown rules. Check it out.

Paul Keith

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Re: Idea: Turn Notepad into WYSIWYG Word Processor
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2009, 01:22 PM »
Thanks. I use WriteMonkey but markup export is just not my thing.

It lacks a way to preview without exporting first and in the end, it seems more trouble than it's worth unless one really wants to have a distraction-free wordpad hack and even then it defeats the point of distraction-free writers which is to write, write, write.

Maybe if WM eventually evolved a much full featured edit mode it can work but right now it just seems like a cool feature to have but nothing overtly helpful.