Author Topic: open source writing software - should I?  (Read 1657 times)

Offline Usurper007

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open source writing software - should I?
« on: June 24, 2006, 01:28:39 AM »
Hey all! I'm new here, and haven't read through the forums to any extent yet. But I did want to post a question and see what everyone had to offer on it.

I got the idea to build an open source writing application – software to aid in the creative writing process.  It seems that commercial software is lacking and a general waste of money (I could be totally wrong).  Plus, I can’t find any current open source projects like this.  So, at first impression, it seems like a doable thing.  Well, the problem is that the creative writing process is such a dynamic and un-algorithmic process that it doesn't lend well to having a piece of software developed to aid in the task.  Sooo…

My questions are:

First, is this a project worth doing?  (is the writing process so ephemeral and individualistic that no software would really aid in the process?)

Second, if it is worth doing, what would you like to see in such a piece of software?  What should it do to make life as a writer easier?


I know these are large, vague questions that you may be able to write a book on.  And I suppose that requirements will vary with different types of writers.  But if you have an idea to offer, I would love to hear it.

Offline Usurper007

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Re: open source writing software - should I?
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2006, 01:52:53 AM »
Let me refine my question with a discussion of mind/concept mapping. I know there are many mapping programs available. However, I argue that the actual mapping is best done with pencil and paper. What I would like to do is design a piece of software that takes one’s ideas and allows him/her to organize, use, and re-use these ideas in an effective manner. But also allow the this to be done in a more intuitive/useful manner than a mere filing cabinet. There may be little difference b/t what I intend and an app such as NewNovelist.  But I don’t want to simply rewrite NN or a mind-mapper app. This is why I’m seeking input from this community of writers.

Thanks for all input,
-U

Offline Writers Block

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Re: open source writing software - should I?
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2006, 04:38:24 AM »
In a word

No

All is really needed is pen and paper, however for ease of use and demands of editors a word processor is required.

If the story is in you it will come out.

Various types of software wont really help. However, everyone is different, and for you it may assist you in organising your thoughts.

I tend to critique in a harsh manner. Please remember it is not personal, but how I prefer anyone critiqueing me to be. It is far more useful IMO.

WB

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Offline Jackster

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Re: open source writing software - should I?
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2006, 08:48:17 AM »
I have to agree with WB - I have tried some of the software programs out there and all it did for me was to delay that actual writing process.  Writing is so individual it would be impossible to develop a "once-size-fits-all" application.  Of course, this is my INDIVIDUAL opinon.

Jack

Offline janstedehouder

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Re: open source writing software - should I?
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2006, 07:54:54 AM »
My answer would be yes. For now I am stuck with closed source applications like MindManager to create mind maps. I have tried a few applications for writers like Writer's Cafe. They are useful, especially in keep track of bits and bites lying around.

Mindmapping with pen and paper is possible, of course, but it does have one major drawback. When you want to change something you  have to draw your mindmap again.

My advice for an open source version of mindmapping (mind you, there is already freemind):
(1) make it multiplatform, meaning: it supports at least Windows and Mac and PalmOS, Windows mobile (I carry an old Windows CE device around everywhere, beats the notebook any time)
(2) add extensive text editor functionality to it, so that you can write chapters and paragraphs from within the mind map application (something that you can do with MindManager already)
(3) add a database function (for the bits and pieces)

The building blocks are already there. You have Freemind (mindmap), Abiword (great multiplatform text editor) and MySQL (open source database, also in a lite version if I am correct). The text editor might have some predifined templates tailored to writer's needs.

In my opinion software is a tool, just like pen and ink. The advantage of software is that you don't have to re-write everything when you want to change something. Other than that, it is the user's versatility that determines the quality of use.