You just want to write. That’s all you want to do. You don’t care about page formatting. Writing is all about words. Formatting can come later, especially if you are writing web copy that will end up in another program anyway.
You don’t want to see Adium or iChat flashing to tell you that somebody has IM’d, or your Entourage icon jumping in the dock. You don’t even need to see that Mail has 6 new messages queued and ready for your reply.
You need basic text editing with spell checking. And, you want the rest of your computer to go away for a while.
Enter, WriteRoom, a free program from HogBay Software (donations requested). WriteRoom is a plain text editor that shows old fashioned green text on a black background that covers the entire monitor. WriteRoom lets you write without distractions.
This certainly isn’t a unique feature. CopyWrite, Jer’s Novel Writer, even DEVONthink offer this. But these other programs have other functions that can intrude on the simple act of composition. WriteRoom doesn’t.
It’s features are limited to choosing the font face, color and size and the writing space width and height. It imports plain text and RTF files and exports .txt documents. That’s about it. But this is a case where less is more. The lack of distractions is refreshing. The scrollbar even disappears until you move the cursor over it, a nice touch. This review is written in WriteRoom.
There is an odd behavior I noticed, though I don’t know if it’s a bug or a feature. Using the keyboard command, Command + W makes the writing space disappear. The document has not been placed in the dock. It has not been saved. There is no save option. When WriteSpace is opened again, all previous documents show up again on the screen. Documents are not saved. They are exported and exist until explicitly deleted. If you start a dozen documents without deleting them you will find a dozen open documents next time you use the program. It’s not particularly annoying but it is different.
Originally, I didn’t see the font choice in preferences but it’s there. (thanks for Nick’s quick response to my post on the HogBay forum) All of your fonts are available. I chose the system font, Lucida Grande over Courier that is the default choice.
Since I don’t like writing on the bottom of the screen, I find that I set the page height a little smaller than I like to keep the bottom margin off the bottom of the screen. I would like to be able to set the bottom margin separate from the top.
But, that is a small complaint and I’ll continue to use it. The simplicity is appealing and the full screen editing works well.
There’s one more nice feature. Since this is a Cocoa application, OS X Services work with it. Add in the HumaneText.service and a keyboard command for it and WriteRoom can access Markdown to generate HTML formated copy in a couple of seconds.