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Déjà vu

Déjà vu

Posted Nov 6, 2010 20:45 UTC (Sat) by pebolle (subscriber, #35204)
Parent article: FocusWriter is all writing, no distractions

> FocusWriter is a fullscreen, distraction-free word processor designed to immerse you as much as possible in your work. [...] The most important thing about writing is your words, and FocusWriter puts them front and center, without cluttering up your view with anything else. (http://gottcode.org/focuswriter/)

Mark Pilgrim's rant on this class of editors is almost four years old, but seems to have covered FocusWriter too: http://diveintomark.org/archives/2007/01/21/wrongroom


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Déjà vu

Posted Nov 6, 2010 21:12 UTC (Sat) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185) [Link]

Why? Mark Pilgrim obviously doesn't get it -- he even admits he doesn't understand why one would select a no-distractions word processor. But since when is lack of understanding insightful? He tries to be funny, but gosh, I am tired of that kind of "I don't get it -- aren't they dumb!" sort of funny. It makes people stupid. Since the author of FocusWriter wrote it for one particular user, his time was well-spent.

But for the people who are stuck in the late seventies: a text editor is not a good tool for writing novels. Syntax highlighting is of very limited use when writing human languages...

I have written three novels (unpublished, but I've written them), one book on Python (published), a dozen or so articles for journals and websites, a manual for an application, and a heck of a lot of code in languages ranging from Sinclair Basic to C++. And I have used NEdit, WordPerfect, Word, XEmacs, KWrite and Vim. And I compiled the collected works of a friend using oowriter. And you know what? I tried all those and then tried a new one because they all sucked for the purpose of writing reams of text.

When writing a novel, you need you text, in a pleasing font, no distractions and a gentle hint that you've reached your goal for today and can knock off for a game of frozen bubble. Oh, and reasonable speed with 100,000 words in the buffer. FocusWriter provides that. I learned about it yesterday, and I love it.

Vim and (X)Emacs have distractions galore, ranging from stupid help texts to a running commentary telling me where I am on the current line to Emacs' insistence on taking away two lines of the screen: one to tell me what mode I am in and one to allow me to ping a host somewhere on the Internet.

And if you have never written a novel yourself, you don't know to what lengths authors go to procrastinate. I know -- because I started working on Krita so I could have an application to draw a map while on the train for the novel I was writing. Seven years later, I'm still hacking, not writing. So, no distractions == good. FocusWriter's theme settings dialog is already a little too much...

(Oh, and for coding, I use Qt Creator these days. With a side dish of vim. Both suck for writing text. I used to use KWrite -- but I have changed, since yesterday.)

Déjà vu

Posted Nov 6, 2010 21:52 UTC (Sat) by pebolle (subscriber, #35204) [Link]

> Mark Pilgrim obviously doesn't get it -- he even admits he doesn't understand why one would select a no-distractions word processor.

But what he actually states is:
> I guess the part I don’t understand is the target audience. Who is so serious about writing that they need a full-screen editor, but so unserious that they don’t have a favorite editor already?

Anyway, what immediately rang a bell with me is the hyperbole this editor is marketed with. Mark Pilgrim quoted very similar hyperbole.

What I don't understand is that people actually believe that a full-screen editor will matter. The choice of an editor (or word processor, or whatever) seems almost irrelevant. There are just too many other, way more troublesome hurdles between "you and your text".

Déjà vu

Posted Nov 9, 2010 21:08 UTC (Tue) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Vim and (X)Emacs have distractions galore, ranging from stupid help texts to a running commentary telling me where I am on the current line to Emacs' insistence on taking away two lines of the screen: one to tell me what mode I am in and one to allow me to ping a host somewhere on the Internet.
If you find the modeline too much of a distraction, you can turn it off (although it is not easy, because it gets very hard to use Emacs with no modeline visible, as it already doesn't bother with visible menus). Emacs does not reserve any screen space to allow you to ping a host somewhere on the Internet, but if this is a really bad way to describe the minibuffer, you can make that occupy zero lines except when in use, as well (or push it into another frame, then minimize the frame).

But, no, not much effort has gone into making it easy for novice users to turn off the minibuffer and modeline, because with them turned off Emacs is much more confusing than otherwise, and that's something it doesn't really need.

Déjà vu

Posted Nov 7, 2010 22:16 UTC (Sun) by zonker (subscriber, #7867) [Link]

And Mark Pilgrim is the ultimate authority on this topic because...? :-)


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