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Author Topic: Writing related programs - Review (?)  (Read 1603 times)

Dormouse

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Writing related programs - Review (?)
« on: April 28, 2018, 12:50 PM »
I noticed that there was a large proportion of writing related programs as giveaways in the fundraiser.

I thought that I might be able to do a comparative review if that was something that might be useful.  I have read many reviews on writer sites, few of which have ever told me anything I wanted to know. Many of which stuck to 'programs for "Writers"' rather than including other programs that can be purposed for similar functionality (or examined how to set up similar functionality using a combination of other programs).

I have a surprising number of such programs (even ignoring those that I have forgotten or that faded away on their own). I can think of a number of categories:-
  • Typing/Writing space/Word processor - eg Write!
  • Database product that combines the above with the resources for a project and tools to help planning - eg Writer's Cafe, Atomic Scribbler.
  • Software to help guide revision/edit - eg ProWritingAid, SmartEdit
  • Software that prepares ebooks for sale on the major web platforms - eg Jutoh
I have a lot of experience with the first two, some with the third (I have ProWritingAid) and none with the fourth (yet). Also don't have a Mac, which might be needed to do justice to the fourth, since it wouldn't make sense to ignore Vellum.

So I'm probably better qualified to do the second category than the others.
Initial thoughts about the programs I would cover include Scrivener, Writer's Cafe, Outline 4D, doogiePIM, OneNote, Evernote. Not sure about LiquidStoryBinder (2011) or TreeDBNotes (2015) although they are both still being sold. Have PageFour, but not Atomic Scribbler. Also have a lot of others. Happy to co-operate with anyone else who is interested.

PS I was very late to know about the fundraising  :( - my email address was out of date. Now DC seems to recognise 2 of my current addresses, which must be good  ;D

PPS My initial idea about doing this came when I realised that doogie|PIM had many of the 'specialist' functions of writing apps such as Scrivener.

wraith808

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Re: Writing related programs - Review (?)
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2018, 01:22 PM »
I've committed to doing some, as I'm the reason most of those are there.  But the more the merrier!  I'm planning to do Atomic Scribbler (with the new Smart Edit integration in mind), Write!, ProWritingAid, and some of the others I've trialed will probably sneak in.

I was planning to do them one mini-review at a time, rather than comparatively, other than that section in the mini-review template.  So it looks like a different angle.

tomos

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Re: Writing related programs - Review (?)
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2018, 02:29 PM »
would be great to see -- straight-forward &/or comparative reviews :up:
Tom

Dormouse

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Re: Writing related programs - Review (?)
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2018, 02:53 PM »
I've committed to doing some, as I'm the reason most of those are there. 
Congratulations on getting so many :Thmbsup:

My interest is very much in an overall system and how each program can fit into that, so mini reviews of individual apps would not work for me. Not really a traditional comparative, concluding one is better than another either.

My interest is in a variety of writing - academic papers and books, reports, 'journalism', non-fiction as well as fiction. My observation over the years is that most students and researchers have massively suboptimal methods of managing their information, planning and structuring; OK for a single piece of work but incredibly inefficient if there's a series.

iirc I wrote a paper on the issue 10 or 20 years ago. To mostly little effect. I suspect pantsers proliferate in all fields, but it's harder to make it work with non-fiction. And some just prefer paper.


mouser

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Re: Writing related programs - Review (?)
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2018, 03:47 PM »
Just want to chime in to say I also would appreciate some mini reviews of writer's tools  :up:

wraith808

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Re: Writing related programs - Review (?)
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2018, 07:52 PM »
I've committed to doing some, as I'm the reason most of those are there. 
Congratulations on getting so many :Thmbsup:

My interest is very much in an overall system and how each program can fit into that, so mini reviews of individual apps would not work for me. Not really a traditional comparative, concluding one is better than another either.

My interest is in a variety of writing - academic papers and books, reports, 'journalism', non-fiction as well as fiction. My observation over the years is that most students and researchers have massively suboptimal methods of managing their information, planning and structuring; OK for a single piece of work but incredibly inefficient if there's a series.

iirc I wrote a paper on the issue 10 or 20 years ago. To mostly little effect. I suspect pantsers proliferate in all fields, but it's harder to make it work with non-fiction. And some just prefer paper.




There was a piece of software that is not supported anymore, but they unlocked it before they faded- it was specifically for academics, but worked well enough for me.  I'll have to try to find it.

UPDATE: That was fast, just found it - IdeaMason.

http://www.bitsdujou...m/software/ideamason

http://download.cnet...2056_4-10398292.html

https://ideamason.wordpress.com/about/

That sounds like it would work for you.  I'd suggest you give it a try.

It's built on the idea that a paper is composed of several different things collected, sort of like what you said.  Ideas, quotes, citations, abstracts, summaries, sources- you store them and categorize them, and you can use them in different fashions to make a composition out of the parts- complete with cites.  It was way more than I needed, but did work for me for writing also.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2018, 08:08 PM by wraith808 »

Dormouse

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Re: Writing related programs - Review (?)
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2018, 04:57 AM »
There was a piece of software that is not supported anymore, but they unlocked it before they faded- it was specifically for academics, but worked well enough for me.
UPDATE: That was fast, just found it - IdeaMason.

That sounds like it would work for you.  I'd suggest you give it a try.

It's built on the idea that a paper is composed of several different things collected, sort of like what you said.  Ideas, quotes, citations, abstracts, summaries, sources- you store them and categorize them, and you can use them in different fashions to make a composition out of the parts- complete with cites.  It was way more than I needed, but did work for me for writing also.
Thanks. iirc this was one of the programs I trialled (or peeped at) back in the day, though maybe not. The impression in my mind is of something bulky and inflexible, though I'm not sure where that's from and am happy to have a look.

As I think about how to do it, it is striking me that your idea of individual reviews is more elegant as well as more useful to many people. My present idea is to specify a process/sequence starting with idea or need and going through working the idea up, collecting information if needed, writing, revising and editing and then publication and seeing how and where each app can fit into such a process. Then to have a (small) number of styles of writer (organised/disorganised, planner/pantser, massive attention to detail or not) and a limited number of types of project that they are working on - academic paper, book, novel, screenplay, weekly column, business report, expert legal report etc. Probably will also have to differentiate between those who have a process that dominates many hours of their lives (eg noting observations from life as in Alan Bennett or Charles Dickens), professors, high level journalists etc and those for whom it is a one off piece of work. Some people need a very light system because anything bigger is too constricting or overwhelming whereas others feel supported by having a clear and comprehensive system. Some have little to gain from software (as in the presumably apocryphal account of Barbara Cartland dictating every morning from her chaise lounge and then leaving the rest to other people [and who for a time found a way of further reducing the effort required, at least according to Georgette Heyer's legal actions]). Personally, I've tended to have a wide number of projects using software that seemed right for each - but always had a feeling that I might have been more productive if I had the one ring to rule them all.

Dormouse

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Re: Writing related programs - Review (?)
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2018, 08:58 AM »
Have tried chasing IdeaMason over the net. Seems it departed, was then resuscitated as v4 and then disappeared. People seem to have been unable to extract their data after a crash. One blog had posts recommending IdeaMason but the most recent posts were about OneNote. I think I will leave it there. I regard the ability to extract data etc without getting trapped in a proprietary format as vital, and it is a potential issue with all the databases.

wraith808

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Re: Writing related programs - Review (?)
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2018, 09:32 AM »
Have tried chasing IdeaMason over the net. Seems it departed, was then resuscitated as v4 and then disappeared. People seem to have been unable to extract their data after a crash. One blog had posts recommending IdeaMason but the most recent posts were about OneNote. I think I will leave it there. I regard the ability to extract data etc without getting trapped in a proprietary format as vital, and it is a potential issue with all the databases.

One of those links that I included (the cnet one) has the download of v3, which is the one that I have installed, and use.

Dormouse

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Re: Writing related programs - Review (?)
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2018, 09:54 AM »
One of those links that I included (the cnet one) has the download of v3, which is the one that I have installed, and use.
That comes up with a Buy Now or Free Trial mode both of which require authorisation from the website which no longer exists.

wraith808

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Re: Writing related programs - Review (?)
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2018, 11:13 AM »
One of those links that I included (the cnet one) has the download of v3, which is the one that I have installed, and use.
That comes up with a Buy Now or Free Trial mode both of which require authorisation from the website which no longer exists.


If you are interested in trying this, I can give you access to my copy as it's abandonware ; they took out the checks in that copy.

Dormouse

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Re: Writing related programs - Review (?)
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2018, 03:57 PM »
If you are interested in trying this, I can give you access to my copy as it's abandonware ; they took out the checks in that copy.
Thanks, I'd certainly be interested in having a look at it. Not reviewable, of course, since there is no public access. I've had a look at the videos on the website I mentioned. I did always like multi-window progs, though most people find them too much. Quite a lot of emphasis on citations management, understandable given the website, but my personal view is that nothing currently equals PaperPile (using the Google ecosystem)/

The mulitiple windows reminded me of Ultra Recall, which I do have (assuming I can still find my licence - yes, found it).