If there’s one thing I appreciate, it’s simplicity. Especially in my software. I’ll let you in on a little secret: for a good chunk of the writing I do, a word processor is overkill. I can get be more than comfortably with a text editor and Markdown.
I also like working in a simple, unadorned, and distraction-free environment. That works well on my desktop, but since I’m moving more and more of my computing to the web I’ve been exploring a number of web-based text editing and distraction-free writing tools.
Of the ones I’ve test driven, the one I’m most impressed with is typerighter.com (which I’m going to call typerighter from here on in). Let’s take a look at it.
typerighter’s creator modestly describes it this way:
Like a blank sheet of paper – typerighter.com has one feature – Save
Well, it has a few more features than that, which I’ll look at in a few moments.
But like any good tool, typerighter does one thing and does it well. It’s a text editor, plain and simple. Very plain and very simple. And that’s the way I like it.
All you have to do is create a new document and start typing. typerighter automatically saves your work for you. No bells, no whistles. Just you and your words.
Unlike a word processor, even one like Google Docs, typerighter doesn’t offer any formatting. That suits my way of writing. If I need to, I can import my work into a word processor and add it later.
But you can use Markdown to add formatting. Just insert the formatting symbols as you type. You won’t get a WYSIWYG view of your formatted work in typerighter, but the formatting is there. It’s easy to automatically convert your work to HTML. I’ll talk about this soon.
Remember that typerighter lives on your web. Which means that your documents do, too. So how do you get them on to your computer? Let’s take a look.
Each document that you create in Typerighter has its own URL. For example:
You can save a document as a text file by adding .txt to the end of the URL and then pressing Enter. Your browser will download the text file to your computer.
If you’re writing in Markdown, just add .html to the end of the URL. That creates what’s essentially a web page, which you can download to your computer.
I mentioned that there were a few. Besides the ability to save your work at text or HTML files, Typerighter also has something called snippets. These are little commands that either perform an action or insert some text into a document. There are snippets that let you save a file, insert a date, display the word count, and even download your document as a text file.
Typerighter also works on mobile devices. I tried it on my Galaxy Player (an Android-powered media player) and it wasn’t too bad.
You can try Typerighter for free, but if you want to use it you have to pay a one-time fee of $5. That, plus one cent for each existing user. When I wrote this post, the fee was $6.36. I’m sure it’s gone up a bit since then.
What does that get you? Your own password-protected sub domain — for example, scottnesbitt.typerighter.com. Think of it as your own little instance of the application with its own storage. As for the storage, it’s pretty much unlimited. Remember, you’re creating text files, which don’t take up much space when compared to a comparable word processor file.
Recently, Garrick Van Buren (who created Typerighter) announced a Pro version of the tool. For $90 a year, you get the ability to organize your writing using hashtags. If you’ve used Twitter, then you know what a hashtag is — a work with a # tacked on to it. For example, #writing. Think of it as a way of classifying and grouping documents, and making them easier to find. To be honest, I haven’t signed up for the Pro account. I’m still debating that.
One feature that I’d like to have is the ability to work offline. I’m not always connected and I’m not always working on my main laptop. I’d like to be able to work without a connection and then synchronize my work with typerighter.com when I get back online.
Being able to do a bulk backup of all of my documents would be a nice feature, one that I’d be willing to pay a little extra for. There is a link at the bottom of your main typerighter page, labeled your archive feed, which lets you download all of your work as one file. But that’s kind of messy, in my opinion. I’d prefer something similar to the feature in Google Docs that takes each of my documents and compresses them all into an, from which I can extract individual files.
I know a number of people who’d like an integrated spelling checker. That’s not a big deal for me; my browser does that for me.
A number of people don’t like distraction-free editors or even the idea of them. Others don’t like web-based writing tools. Others still don’t like writing in an application that’s not a word processor. And that’s OK.
I’m not one of them. As I mentioned at the start of this post, I like to keep things simple wherever possible. Typerighter does just that. It’s just me and my words. I don’t need to worry about anything else.