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Feature requests

ingwa
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Feature requests

Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:15 pm
Now that the Author project is announced it's time to start gathering feature requests. What should we implement for the first version? There are many things we could do but I want to hear the requests from the actual future users. So go ahead and wish! Even if we don't end up doing your feature for the first release, it will still be on the TODO list for later.

The feature(s) that we will actually pick is one that is reasonable in size, i.e. possible to implement in 1-2 months and useful for many users. Bonus points if it is something that distinguishes Author from a normal word processor.

Note: I did actually do this to some extent already before I announced. But the feature we decided on - Document Profiles - turned out to be very difficult to implement so we have to do something else. This feature is excellently described in Irinas blog at http://www.valdyas.org/fo3/my-ideal-writing-machine/ under 2. Editing / e. Styles.
slangkamp
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Re: Feature requests

Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:48 pm
Maybe not for the first version, but interesting for technical writing I'm doing would be Latex export.

First version could be very simple. It would just export each chapter as a different file and create on document that links them together. That would already be enough to create rough Latex documents that can be tuned later.
quintinza
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Re: Feature requests

Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:06 pm
Hi all.

I write a little, and have been hunting for a proper writing environment for a very long time.

I have used various applications, and two that I have used recently mainly due to their simplicity are pyroom and textroom.

For feature requests I will focus on what have served me well with these:

1 - Ability to display light text on a dark background, with some customization. It is easier on the eyes when you sit and write/read for long periods of time.
2 - Option to have always visible word/character count.
3 - Option to set words per page and then auto paginate. Some writing formats require different font sizes, words per page (for a novel you would look at about 250-300 words per page), and then pages per chapter. Textroom has a nice feature set where you can have auto pagination dependant on your pre sets. This brings me to:
4 - Compliance with various publishing houses manuscript format. The usual is double spacing between lines with set left/right/top/bottom margins. This can differ from publisher to publisher, and it would be paramount to be able to set this in a sane and easy to use way. Some publishers will return or reject manuscripts out of hand if the submission does not comply with their chosen manuscript format. Speaking of Manuscripts:
5 - Ability to support MS Word format. I realise that this is one of those features that one wishes to be able to ignore, but often the requirement is to submit a soft copy in MS Word format with a hard copy. Of course the can of worms of supporting all the document editing tools used in the industry, but I think MS Word format is a start.
6 - Speaking of formats, how about being able to export to Google Docs (Textroom supported this) or kindle format? Kindle format is important for publishers of ebooks. The callibre project does this well if you want to have a look at theirs.
7 - Commenting. I guess this ties in with collaboration that you mentioned in the press release, but for the author being able to comment (highlight a piece of text and then add a comment to that) and then maybe link that comment to various areas in the document(s) is a boon. Google Docs does commenting awesomely.

I guess that I would love to have an all in one solution. Textroom is great for writing in since I can keep track of my progress and set writing targets in words. I can also set pagination and font from the get go and get a real feel for how a longer piece of work is progressing by glancing down to the bottom of the screen where words/characters/pages is displayed. Being able to write with light grey on black background is awesome as well for those late night inspirations when you write for four hours and only realise it when you glance at the watch.

Textroom is horrible for editing though. There I export my work to Google Docs and do the usual editing stuff there.

From there I need to use calibre to import the document from Gdocs and export to Kindle to load it on my tablet to read it as my readers would.

Come the time to re-write changes I have no sane way of importing into Textroom again so I have to copypasta and then run the risk of losing formatting. You get the idea where I am going with this.

Anyway, good luck and hope you can make thousands of writers around the worlds dreams come true regarding a sane and complete writing environment.
userinScotland
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Re: Feature requests

Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:09 pm
What I would like, as someone who dabbles in fiction and non-fiction (not documentation)
  • Distraction-free mode:
  • KDE / activities integration might help here? No notifications, fullscreen, fade-in icons (minimal set)
  • word count in status bar
  • support for alternative words / phrases:
  • this is complicated. Imagine I'm in full flow but can't decide whether this sentence should say "shocked" or "surprised". I type them both, separated by / or similar. I select the 2 words (or phrases) and use a keyboard shortcut (CTRL+\ ?) to mark them (magically :) ) as alternatives, rendered appropriately (1 hidden until mouseover?)
  • predefined manuscript-style templates that match various submission guidelines
  • the ability to apply those templates at any point, so you can ignore the formatting until you finish / print a draft
  • Uncomplicated Versioning would be good, whether through git or Dropbox.
  • Keep it light and fast to startup
  • Good keyboard support for the most common operations, but not esoteric vim/emacsisms please. Not a programmer
  • Some of Scrivener's features look good to me but I've not tried them, e.g. the ability to quickly shuffle chapters id'd by a synopsis

I am very pleased to see this initiative btw. Will pop back with more ideas if I have them x

Last edited by Mamarok on Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Format the list correctly. There is no way to have several levels of list items BTW
Sundance Kid
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Re: Feature requests

Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:44 pm
I use FocusWriter (covered by distraction free mode), it's one of the first things I interact with when starting to write. The ability to write, for instance, bright fluro green text on a black background is actually an important part of how I drift into writing. So that type of functionality would be very handy.
User avatar tushantin
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Re: Feature requests

Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:17 pm
If my guess is correct that Author may be a fork of Words, but being more creative-centric, and since we're aiming for a good release in the first coming months, I'll mention the easiest and most crucial implementations first. But before that, a brief note:

Most professional writers prefer a toolset that may be both full-featured and minimal -- something that can give them a lot of power and stay out of their way -- and this can be achieved with interesting planning of interfaces and features. Some tools manage to do it, and some don't. LaTeX and traditional word-processors are good, but they don't provide the necessary "tools" for planning. Storyboard has the tools, but is frankly too clustered and unusable. There are professional tools available, such as Final Draft and Scrivener, but frankly, there's been no "opensource" equivalent to them (until now), and rarely useable on Linux. But there are tools available that we can learn from, because they cater to a writer's needs.

Scrivener is an indispensible toolkit that provides you ever necessary tool to allow your creativity to flow. It focuses on two major aspects, planning and writing, with intelligent outlining and essential snippet binding (or project tree), but isn't primarily catered towards Linux. But we do have the open-source equivalent Plume Creator, the lightest and most simplistic writing environment available at the time. It might not be perfect, but it does rings the right bells for its current release (and will be increasingly better soon too, as the developer is currently worknig on a useful outliner). It's going through a lot of polish at the time, and will become something that will appeal to the writers incredibly. And lastly, there's Yarny, the very first HTML5-based almost-complete writer's package (minus the outline and offline integration), especially designed for speed-writing and project management for NaNoWriMo. These three are the toolsets we might always want to keep an eye out for.

And with that in mind, let's get on with the features we might want to see in the firs version of Calligra Author:

  • Distraction-Free Mode -- Words already has Full-Screen mode, but that can be taken another level by giving the users an option to hide the docs to the right and top, as well as changing the page / canvas and font color to write. Black page on white font, perhaps?
  • Word Count / Statistics -- If you've seen the newest 3.6 release of LibreOffice Writer, it enables Word Count at the status bar by default. A similar feature is also available on Scrivener and Yarny. This is especially useful for writers to keep track of their progress at a glance.
  • Project Tree / Binder / Collection -- Let's face it, a lot of writers prefer to keep their scenes and chapters in separate documents, and this causes a lot of problems trying to manage folders and files, and subsequently organizing and editing the whole book. Yarny uses "Snippets" method, a bar to the left, that can be organized at the user's will (which scene first, which last, etc.). Scrivener has a full-fledged binder to organize your files, folders and research as you prefer (the left-most panel in this screenshot). Plume has a similar hierarchy-based document organizer in a systematic structure: Book > Chapter > Scene. LibreOffice also has a similar feature, but cluttered, called the Navigator; while it doesn't deal with multiple documents, it does separate sections of a book into different hierarchy Headings, which can then be organized.
    Calligra could have a similar feature in the likes of "Book > Parts > Chapters > Scenes". A separate "Chapter" will also be available, but with a different icon and named "Research" for the sake of, you know, research. Multiple documents can be organized there based on user preferences.
  • Outliner -- One of the most important aspects of creative writing and book management is Outlining. Traditionally, these outlines are done in word-processors, but because they are separate from book-project management, syncing the outlines with the project itself is time consuming. Some authors also use Spreadsheets due to its matrix of cells. Scrivener, though, allows you to switch between three different outlining methods: Index Cards for visual, Scrivenings to view the entire book / chapter / scene summary, and a traditional but detailed outliner (with a "Spreadsheet-like" capacity). They are all in hierarchy order. In either of them, arranging the project outlines also arranges the scenes in the project.
    In Calligra: The Outliner could allow arranging and plotting the contents of the book (as in, a story) based on the written "Synopsis". The simplest implementation would be to follow in the footsteps of Workflowy, wherein the hierarchies are collapsable and can be re-ordered via drag&drop. Each parent is a book, sub-parent as part, its child being chapter, and child's child being scene. The Outliner would only show the synopsis, and perhaps notes. That brings us to....
  • Notes and Annotations -- LibreOffice, Google Docs, Plume, Scrivener, all have it. LO and Celtx use text-position based notes, but Plume uses scene-based notes (as in, one note per scene). Yarny has notes snippets. I think we could follow with Plume's interface and LibreOffice's feature of having text-location based notes, but integrated with "synopsis" bar to the right panel (just like Celtx), while also having a "notes management" feature.

At the time being, these are all the features I feel should be implemented by default for a good novel / book writing toolkit, especially for the first version. But these aren't, by far, all of the requirements. There are other features one would absolutely need for a writing environment, especially for Calligra (such as database and Braindump integration, especially for characters, locations, etc., and integration with Words for final polishing), but that can always come later. :) If you prefer, I could always make mock-ups!
ingwa
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Re: Feature requests

Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:49 pm
I love all these suggestions. Keep them coming! I'm going to leave the topic unanswered for another day and then start tallying different votes (as it were).

One thing that I can say already now is that word count already exists in Words and therefore also in Author. There is a Statistics docker you can select in the "Dockers" submenu under Settings (this will move to View). open that one and then you can select between a number of statistics which is updated while you write.

What is not there yet, but will surely be - I can say this already - is word count in the status bar. I believe we will also do a distraction-free mode for those that want that. What I wonder is how you want the word count to be shown if in distraction-free mode. Both seem important since many people have mentioned them but I am a bit unsure how to combine them. Or should they perhaps not be combined at all?
User avatar tushantin
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Re: Feature requests

Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:06 pm
ingwa wrote:What is not there yet, but will surely be - I can say this already - is word count in the status bar. I believe we will also do a distraction-free mode for those that want that. What I wonder is how you want the word count to be shown if in distraction-free mode. Both seem important since many people have mentioned them but I am a bit unsure how to combine them. Or should they perhaps not be combined at all?

In that case, we can always approach it the way FocusWriter does! Put the Word Count in the status bar, but in Distraction-Free mode, the "Status Bar" is only available when you move the cursor at the edge of the screen. Move it back to writing, and ta-da! It's gone. :D
digulla
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Re: Feature requests

Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:39 pm
Some ideas from my ePen project:

- Some words (names of places and characters) are unique enough to generate automatic links. In ePen, you can give every character, place, item or wiki page any number of keywords. Names of characters are keywords by default. When you write your story, all the keywords automatically become links and it's possible to see where each keyword is being used (for example, when you need to change something and need to find all the places where it's mentioned)

Note that keywords can contain spaces. So for my hero Forne Rako, the keywords are "Rako", "Forne" and "Forne Rako". There is also a Rako star system. When I click on "Rako", I get a popup with a list of matches (character + place). But when I write "General Rako" (General is the his title), the link goes directly to the character.

- A simple way to format text without taking your fingers away from the keys and your mind from the text. I finally settled for a Wiki like language to format text. Since I'm writing SciFi, I don't need much: <<T We'll see about that,>> he thought. Aloud, he replied: <<I'm in.>>

It would be possible to achieve a similar effect using shortcut keys but that means I'll have to select the text, first. When using "<<" and ">>", I can let the formatting flow into the natural writing process.

Only use this for the most simple kinds of formatting. I only support

- thoughts (will get single quotes and italic style)
- Spoken words (get the text language's standard's quotes but the text in the editor will be blue to make it easier to spot),
- Foreign language (<<F Good day.>> - the output will be formatted in a special font, so readers will know that this was said in a foreign language).
- [[XXX ...]] to add a TODO to the text

More complex formatting is done with shortcuts and the usual interruption of the flow. But that doesn't hurt because I need those only rarely.

- Various support tools like spell checking, looking for repeated words, lots of -ing words, long/short words, long sentences, number of commas (= number of nested sentences), repeated words in the beginning of consecutive paragraphs. Here, it would be great if CA would support a scripting language that allows to write such tools.

- One dictionary per project for the spell checker. Especially SciFi needs lots of new words and I don't want to pollute my standard dictionary.

- Outline to sort scenes and chapters and books.

- It should be possible to attach arbitrary properties (= text fields) to each part of the project (scenes, chapters, characters, etc). Standard properties are: Status (idea, outline, 1st draft, finished), notes (should be a multi text field), summary (for the outline), keywords (for the autolinks), list of authors that worked on this part.

But authors should be able to define their own fields. Scripting would be great here, too.

- A simple way to create links (visible for readers or only for authors). Hidden author links should allow to create a connection that says "this was mentioned here" and it should be possible to find all places where a link to something exists. Stories change over time. And with current tools, it's really hard to make sure you don't miss a spot when you have to change something.

- A search tool which displays all hits in a list as snippets.

- No save button / menu item. The CA should save my work automatically, all the time, without bothering me including making backups.

- Allow to split the editor so you can work on two related things at the same time.

- Access to braindump to collect/manage reference material and ideas.

- A todo list

- A quick outline mode where you can create 10 rough scenes per minute (just the titles or one summary sentence)

- Export of the whole project as XML to do post processing in a different tool

- Version control

- Should play well with a web/cloud data storage service like Dropbox or something what I can install on my own servers.
digulla
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Re: Feature requests

Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:48 pm
Do you plan to support a translation mode?

The project should have a default language and additional languages. When translation, any part of the project in an additional language should be marked "out of date" when the part in the default language changes.

Also it helps when you can weave original text and translation, say one sentence of original text and below that a field where you can type the translated version.
mgiesler
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Re: Feature requests

Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:14 am
Great project. I tried to start such a software (focussed on novelists) some years ago but lacked the time.
Some important features we thought of back then were:

- support of different projects
- a timeline
- character sheets, location sheets, etc.
(more soon to come when I refind the old mind maps ;-)
ingwa
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Re: Feature requests

Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:19 pm
Thanks everybody, this thread has been a great help.

We have now published a roadmap which shows which features we will implement for version 2.6. You can find it here: http://ingwa2.blogspot.se/2012/08/progr ... uthor.html .

I will discuss the details of some features and also the ones that didn't make it for this time in some other threads. We will also start to investigate what we will do for version 2.7 (or will it be 3.0?) since we now have more time to do long-term planning.
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Re: Feature requests

Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:16 am
I think some use of Braindump or Flow componnets sould be great for the outline planning. The main interface of this apps are much oversized for the purpose of simply structure a book.
thegritche
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Re: Feature requests

Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:16 am
I think that the ability to give properties to a scene could be important.
for example, in which location occurs the scene, which characters appears in it, when ?
Also, as a book can have multiple strands, at which strand a scene or a chapter belongs ? It permits to know easily if a strand is neglicted.
As I have read in previous posts, most feature requests ar about writing (how strange for this kind of software, isn't it ? ;) ).
But I think, Calligra Author could also be of great help as an organisational tool.
As I have understood, scrinever permits to add custom metadata to scenes, date for example.
But I find it more convenient to give an absolute date (2012-25-12) to the first scene and relative dates to the other ones (scene 5 occurs 3 days after scene 2, for example)
User avatar tushantin
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Re: Feature requests

Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:30 am
Quating Christopher from the Announcements thread:

Christopher Fritz wrote:Is Author planning on going the "all files in a database" approach, or a "all files separate" approach? Personally, I like the latter (much like an programmer's IDE) as it would make it easy to modify files outside of Author.


I think we can have both at the same time -- a folder directory with all files neatly organized, while keeping each scene separate in a text/RTF file -- since this gives us complete freedom to do whatever we want with it, even re-order them within Author.

 
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