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Last post Author Topic: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)  (Read 6688 times)

Dormouse

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #50 on: May 27, 2018, 04:27 AM »
Tech tip: When crafting (html) tables, getting empty cells to show properly, the standard way of 'filling' them is to use   (non-breaking space) as the content, instead of the, imho rather ugly and disruptive, dot/period.
I'm using the BBCode here and it doesn't seem to work in that  :(
I agree that it's ugly and disruptive.
They'll all go when I finish because the cells will be filled.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2018, 04:55 AM by Dormouse »

Dormouse

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #51 on: May 27, 2018, 04:51 AM »
I'm thinking of looking at yWriter, WriteItNow, RightNote and Ginkgo in my next little run.

Ath

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #52 on: May 27, 2018, 05:08 AM »
I'm using the BBCode here and it doesn't seem to work in that
Well, unfortunately the worst part is that BBC tables don't support that by default, unless a BBC tag is added to the generator, elsewhere suggested tag: space /space (without the square brackets here, or the tag will be removed by the forum), to insert the   into the html :(

They'll all go when I finish because the cells will be filled.
Ok, but I guess we'll have to ask mouser to improve the BBC code generator, tables will often have empty cells, and painting them white just looks awful.

Ath

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #53 on: May 27, 2018, 05:39 AM »
I'm using the BBCode here and it doesn't seem to work in that
Actually, after searching the BBCeditor BBC Parser, BBCeditor does insert an   if a 'th' or 'td' element of the table is empty, but it seems that is a feature of BBCeditor, not of BBCode generators in general. That could be an omission in the implementation. Or at least in the specification, as nothing is said in the references I could find (BBCodew and bbcode.org)

Dormouse

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #54 on: May 27, 2018, 06:04 AM »
    I've found the differences frustrating, and it means that I have to do my final check by using preview.

    And I seem to have two stray
entries at the end now. I'll have to chase them down.

I tried a number of things at the beginning, but nothing seemed to work, so I gave up and just used the .
I did think about trying to make the . invisible, but then thought my time would be better spent trying to do the review.

wraith808

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #55 on: May 27, 2018, 09:02 AM »
Tech tip: When crafting (html) tables, getting empty cells to show properly, the standard way of 'filling' them is to use   (non-breaking space) as the content, instead of the, imho rather ugly and disruptive, dot/period.
I'm using the BBCode here and it doesn't seem to work in that  :(
I agree that it's ugly and disruptive.
They'll all go when I finish because the cells will be filled.

Is that cleanup behavior something that mouser added?  You used to be able to just use an empty cell- I used it in my reviews several times.

wraith808

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #56 on: May 27, 2018, 09:04 AM »
I'm thinking of looking at yWriter, WriteItNow, RightNote and Ginkgo in my next little run.


Do you have any conclusions for your own use yet?

Dormouse

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #57 on: May 27, 2018, 04:35 PM »
Is that cleanup behavior something that mouser added?  You used to be able to just use an empty cell- I used it in my reviews several times.
As someone who doesn't really know how to do it, I'm frustrated by the differences.
An empty cell works fine in some of the online generators (not all) and BBCeditor. But not here.
And previews are difficult here because they don't show what's in the spoiler, and you can't press the spoiler button in the preview.

I'm thinking I might start updating the whole first post in WriteMonkey; it has got so long that it is quite unwieldy to work with and the code folding should make it easier; I hope.


Dormouse

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #58 on: May 27, 2018, 05:30 PM »
Do you have any conclusions for your own use yet?
Not really. I'm keeping an open mind.
I'm also aware that I'm likely to be using a number of programs to make up an ecosystem/workflow.

I won't be writing any more theses, but think that I have all the other needs.
I absolutely need to write when mobile and also need encrypted files for a fair number of uses. At least I can use my PC much more now that difficulties I was having with vision when on the computer are much improved.
Also have a preference/need, sometimes, to use a pen/stylus which has rather specified my hardware. I have no problems with distraction and am most productive in an aurally and visually busy environment.

Out of those I have used so far, doogiePIM ticks a lot of boxes. But it needs updates to its document handling to make it an option for most of my writing.

The one conclusion that I have reached is that I would recommend yWriter as the first program that any fiction writer should try out. I've only just started to look at it, so that view might change, but I suspect not.
It's free and has versions for Linux, Android and iOS. It covers all the basics of outlining/writing and has a short learning curve for main features. It is pretty obvious what it doesn't do (quite a lot), so anyone needing those has to look elsewhere or supplement yWriter with another program. But very cheap to try out both financially and in terms of time. Doesn't have to be in fiction either; apparently someone rewrote the language file to produce a version designed for writing sermons, so some potential for repurposing. The developer is a novelist himself, so everything is designed with functionality in mind. Plain not pretty. Very much project based though.

Has some nifty features too. Although the RTF editor is quite limited - no tables, can't paste images - the file can be edited in an external RTF editor. And if that adds tables and images, then yWriter is quite happy to show them, though they don't work as designed.

For me, the mobile use is a huge advantage. And it has most of the basic functions. And ProWritingAid can work with its files. I can see that I could use it and doogiePIM to cover most of my writing needs. I will need to continue using OneNote, Evernote and Google/PaperPile. I may need more comprehensive publishing/formatting options than any of these possess - but equally suspect that I would prefer to have that as a separate function anyway. Might also need more visual brainstorming creative techniques than can be got from doogiePIM.

But I haven't finished looking at it and have lots of others to investigate. When I started I would not have anticipated that doogiePIM might be viable for any part of my needs, and had previously dismissed yWriter as having too little functionality and did not know that it now had Android and iOS versions. Will be interested in looking at The Journal too. I would be surprised if it could outcompete the doogiePIM Journal for me, as it would need me to use an extra program and The Journal isn't cheap - but maybe it will.

Dormouse

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #59 on: May 29, 2018, 08:14 AM »
Added table for yWriter.

Looks very functional, with versions for Android and iOS, but users who need brainstorming or visual creative development techniques or research would need to supplement with other programs.

I will write a full review and I think I will try writing a book with it and then write a long term use review.

And, since I am visually oriented, I will look at brainstorming/mindmapping/visual development programs. I might add a paragraph, or even a section, on these; depending on whether they seem a worthwhile addition to a workflow.

Wrote the post in WriteMonkey (cut/pasted from and then to BBCeditor). I can see that I might start using it for long documents, (reminder to self - in which case I ought to donate).

I then cut the whole post from DC and put it into BBCeditor. Noticed that DC had cut some of the table formatting, which no longer appeared in BBCeditor as it had when originally written.

Dormouse

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #60 on: May 29, 2018, 08:40 AM »
Downloading WriteItNow.
First thing I notice is the emaciated demo - it doesn't save!
Obviously limits any possible review. Half a mind not to bother.

wraith808

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #61 on: May 29, 2018, 09:04 AM »
Downloading WriteItNow.
First thing I notice is the emaciated demo - it doesn't save!
Obviously limits any possible review. Half a mind not to bother.

My suggestion- only do things that seem interesting to you, and that will help you.  That's where you'd get your best work.  Maybe put a blurb up there about things that were chosen, but not reviewed, and what put you off about them.

cranioscopical

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #62 on: May 29, 2018, 09:49 AM »
Obviously limits any possible review. Half a mind not to bother.
I'm with wraith808 on that. At the very least set aside anything that seems below par until some future time.

(Might contact the author, cite your efforts here, and see if you can get a working review copy?)

Dormouse

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #63 on: May 29, 2018, 09:52 AM »
My suggestion- only do things that seem interesting to you, and that will help you.  That's where you'd get your best work.  Maybe put a blurb up there about things that were chosen, but not reviewed, and what put you off about them.
But if I don't delve into dark and unpleasant corners I will never know what's in them!

Not that WriteItNow is dark or unpleasant. It is actually a very pretty and visual program, and so full of features. The antithesis of yWriter. And actually won't take long because it is intuitive and everything is easy to see.

And disliking their demo policy wouldn't stop me buying it if I believed it would make me more productive.

But I will only spend the time that I think a program warrants: I'm not going to look at a lot of (usually very expensive) screenwriting programs. Open to suggestions for more dark corners though. I always find it hard to know what will be useful to me personally; I can choose what fits into my own workflow but can't avoid wanting to know all the other options I might have if I start to become disatisfield. It's not a form of procrastination - really  ;)

Dormouse

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #64 on: May 29, 2018, 09:57 AM »
(Might contact the author, cite your efforts here, and see if you can get a working review copy?)
-cranioscopical (May 29, 2018, 09:49 AM)
That's a good idea. I think I will do that, if I think the program might be helpful. My initial viewing suggests that it does things that other programs do not, and might suit some people. Probably not for most professional writers because it looks as if too much time would be spent operating the features rather than writing words.

Dormouse

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #65 on: May 31, 2018, 07:06 AM »
I have now uploaded my table on WriteItNow. They were kind enough to allow me the copy to review, so I could test it out, and I think it has been worth it (for me anyway).

My first suggestion to most writers would still be yWriter (free and has mobile), but WriteItnow would be my second suggestion for fiction writers who are likely to need help either with the creative development process or with operating the software - especially if they are likely to be plotters. My guess is that most users are people new(ish) to writing and that some of the successful users may move on to other programs (I've seen two reviews by people switching to Scrivener) but I can see that many would stick with it because it is difficult to find the same features elsewhere. From my point of view it would be better if there was at least a short trial period and not just a Demo version; they have been going a long time though, so maybe they have learned that this wasn't a good idea.

For myself, i would like to try it out with something but don't have anything in mind yet. I suspect that its easy, low learning curve design gets in the way of maximising word count, but I might be wrong. Maybe I would switch between panels faster if I learned all the keyboard shortcuts, (though I have always been mouse centred - well, since the invention of mice anyway). If I do, I will write a 'long term' use review, otherwise I will just do a more detailed review.

Again, I have written the table using WriteMonkey. While I was doing so, it struck me that it would be just as easy, for a lot of uses, to do the writing in WriteMonkey as to use the full screen modes in the other programs. Easy enough to copy and paste back in.

Dormouse

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #66 on: June 01, 2018, 05:19 AM »
Another idea for something to cover that I've found myself using enough to pay for a subscription is Gingko.  I'll cover that in my eventual article as I've used it a lot, but didn't know if you would be interested.
So that's the web version? I was having a quick play, before going on to review RightNote.
AFAICS (long time since I have used it), it is still a convoluted process getting cards coloured or images in. And I can't even see a way of doing that in the desktop version.
And without being able to do that what makes it visual? (I always thought that the emphasis on MarkDown and LaTex was a profoundly non-visual way of thinking about things, and enforced a text/keyboard emphasis). And typing MarkDown instructions does NOT make it easier to concentrate on writing the words you want. What makes it different to typewritten sheets laid out on the floor in columns?
The comments I have seen from some users suggest a profound writers block where they were intimidated by the size and structure of what they were doing and just found it much easier to do all their writing on apparently unconnected cards.

So unless I'm missing something important (not unlikely), I think it will do very poorly in all the categories of the review. OK for writing (though good for pantsers) and some organisational capability. So I'd like to know what advantages you have found for it in use as I fear I may have missed them.

When I do a review of it, I think I will within a group of card approaches and do it jointly with NoteZilla.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2018, 05:56 AM by Dormouse »

Dormouse

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #67 on: June 01, 2018, 08:01 AM »
I've now put in a card based systems section. Gingko, NoteZilla. I've also added the Google grouping here, because a substantial proportion of the initial writing is likely to be done in Keep.
I'll look around for others too.

wraith808

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #68 on: June 01, 2018, 09:12 AM »
Another idea for something to cover that I've found myself using enough to pay for a subscription is Gingko.  I'll cover that in my eventual article as I've used it a lot, but didn't know if you would be interested.
So that's the web version? I was having a quick play, before going on to review RightNote.
AFAICS (long time since I have used it), it is still a convoluted process getting cards coloured or images in. And I can't even see a way of doing that in the desktop version.
And without being able to do that what makes it visual? (I always thought that the emphasis on MarkDown and LaTex was a profoundly non-visual way of thinking about things, and enforced a text/keyboard emphasis). And typing MarkDown instructions does NOT make it easier to concentrate on writing the words you want. What makes it different to typewritten sheets laid out on the floor in columns?
The comments I have seen from some users suggest a profound writers block where they were intimidated by the size and structure of what they were doing and just found it much easier to do all their writing on apparently unconnected cards.

So unless I'm missing something important (not unlikely), I think it will do very poorly in all the categories of the review. OK for writing (though good for pantsers) and some organisational capability. So I'd like to know what advantages you have found for it in use as I fear I may have missed them.

When I do a review of it, I think I will within a group of card approaches and do it jointly with NoteZilla.


It requires a change of paradigm... to start thinking of things in a horizontal fashion, rather than a vertical.  I use it because it's more intuitive in it's grouping than most notecards within writing apps, or even something like Scapple.  I use it to organize text in an outline format; I never use images in these particular tools, so perhaps it's just a different way of doing things.

In one of my outlines, for example:

The first layer is my three major themes.
In the second layer on each, I expand into the major points I want to hit in the themes. 
Then the third layer in each starts to get into details.

They're intentionally kept very minimal, and if I need more details on a tangent, I add another level.  I can do it all from the keyboard without using any menus, and just let the ideas flow in a format that I can reference, export to JSON, and use easily in a variety of circumstances.

Dormouse

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #69 on: June 01, 2018, 09:49 AM »
That makes complete sense. I'd always regarded Gingko as a keyboard oriented, text based card system with some organisation, but was concerned I was missing something when I saw references to it being a visual system.

wraith808

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #70 on: June 01, 2018, 11:41 AM »
That makes complete sense. I'd always regarded Gingko as a keyboard oriented, text based card system with some organisation, but was concerned I was missing something when I saw references to it being a visual system.

I think visual as in you can visualize the organization better in that horizontal format.  At least, I've found that I do.

Dormouse

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #71 on: June 01, 2018, 01:05 PM »
I think visual as in you can visualize the organization better in that horizontal format.  At least, I've found that I do.
That ties in with designs using tabs. Most people work better with a grid system rather than everything being on a single tree (vertical or horizontal - though which is vertical and which horizontal has an impact); we interpret the organisation differently according to how it is presented even when it is structurally identical. I don't think that is actually visual, more the way this particular presentation makes it easier or harder to correlate with the organisation we have in our minds. It's one of the issues I was going to address in my conclusions.

wraith808

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #72 on: June 01, 2018, 08:24 PM »
I think visual as in you can visualize the organization better in that horizontal format.  At least, I've found that I do.
That ties in with designs using tabs. Most people work better with a grid system rather than everything being on a single tree (vertical or horizontal - though which is vertical and which horizontal has an impact); we interpret the organisation differently according to how it is presented even when it is structurally identical. I don't think that is actually visual, more the way this particular presentation makes it easier or harder to correlate with the organisation we have in our minds. It's one of the issues I was going to address in my conclusions.



Perhaps not visual in the sense that you're thinking- but more of a visualization, i.e. it helps you to formulate a visual image of the information rather than just seeing text.

Dormouse

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #73 on: June 02, 2018, 02:04 PM »
I have now posted the RightNote table.

It has a perfectly good word processor, but is not aimed at writers. If I were using the information in it - or in Evernote - I would have no problem in using it to write; otherwise I would choose something else.

Next stop Gingko, a very different beast.

Dormouse

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Re: Comparative Review of Writers' Tools (INITIAL DRAFT)
« Reply #74 on: June 04, 2018, 06:37 AM »
I have now put up the Gingko table.

It says it is a horizontal tree starting from the left, but can as easily be constructed to go up or down; I'm not sure whether users in languages that read from right to left would prefer the horizontal direction reversed.

It is a very flexible program for keyboard oriented, pure text users; less so, but still usable for other people. Probably one of the most approachable writing systems out there.

Payment level (within limits) can be decided by users to reflect fact that not all users are in the same financtial position.

Personally, I wouldn't want to write anything long in it - the narrow columns and inability to return a card to the default size are too restricting. But a lot of people seem OK with that.

Next, I think I will do a completely contrasting card based system - NoteZilla.