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Details of the distraction free writing mode

ingwa
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Distraction free writing mode was one of the most popular features that people mentioned again and again in the thread about feature requests. So naturally we decided to implement it for the next release. :)

But I'm a little unsure about some of the details. Here is a short description of what I think we should support:

Basic properties
  • Full screen mode
  • Dockers hidden from the UI.
  • Menu hidden from the UI
  • Toolbox hidden from the UI
  • Mouse pointer is hidden from the UI unless the user moves the mouse

Additional aspects
  • The text is shown without styling, in a user-configurable font, size, and color. The background is also user-configurable. This is unrelated to how the text is formatted when the user is not in distraction free mode.
  • A special status bar can be shown when the user moves the mouse pointer to the bottom of the screen. This status bar will fade or slide in to distract as little as possible. It will contain the word count (maybe other values), a timer and a way to exit DFM.
  • The user will be given up to 10 user-defined keyboard shortcuts to toggle character or paragraph styles. This will let the user create simple styling in the book without breaking the writing flow by moving the hand to the mouse or opening any dockers.
Now, I also have some questions:
  • 1. Should objects and shapes in the document be shown at all in the running text?
  • 2. Should the dockers be available by moving the mouse pointer to, say, the right side of the screen?
  • 3. What is best in DFM: paged view or pageless view, i.e. the text shown in just one long page?

What do you think? Did I misunderstand something? Is there anything I have forgotten?
Sundance Kid
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I think you've pretty much covered it. :)

1. Should objects and shapes in the document be shown at all in the running text?

1) Not for me. But I can imagine someone somewhere on the planet wishing it had been implemented.

2. Should the dockers be available by moving the mouse pointer to, say, the right side of the screen?

2) Sounds like a nice touch.

3. What is best in DFM: paged view or pageless view, i.e. the text shown in just one long page?

3) Option for both. xD ...but page view for me. But the ability to scroll up and down a long passage of text (pageless view) is really useful sometimes.
User avatar Christopher Fritz
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Get ready to find every possibly option get picked by different people in replies ;)

My thoughts:

ingwa wrote:1. Should objects and shapes in the document be shown at all in the running text?

I don't do any writing that uses objects and shapes, so my comment here should be considered meaningless. However, I would imagine that if I were writing something that used these, that I'd want to have the objects/shapes hidden in DFM. I only imagine they would be distractions. This is of course probably a limitation of my not using objects in writing (my text editor of choice is KATE, after all), so I'd be interested in seeing some use cases where it would be useful to include them in DFM.

ingwa wrote:2. Should the dockers be available by moving the mouse pointer to, say, the right side of the screen?

Personally, I would find the availability of dockers to potentially be a distraction. What do/can/will dockers provide that I might want to make use of in DFM?

That said, I don't expect I'd be using the mouse a lot in a DFM (unless I'm backtracking to fix mistakes in my writing I notice up above, and end up moving the mouse to the side of the screen a lot). Therefore, even if auto-hiding dockers would be of no use to me, that might not get in the way.

ingwa wrote:3. What is best in DFM: paged view or pageless view, i.e. the text shown in just one long page?

For me, pageless would be best. If I'm writing, I want a constant stream of text flowing down the page.

This is probably going to be one of those things where you'll want KDE's level of customizability (who doesn't love a configuration option for everything, spanning 15 screens in the preferences?), and trying to find a good "default" while making it easy to customize.

Regarding the auto-hiding status bar, an additional option could be a keyboard binding to temporarily show the status bar (or to show then press again to hide) would help reduce to need for a mouse. I'm sure I'd make use of that during NaNoWriMo while typing on my laptop during my work commute, as it would let me avoid having to use the touchpad. Speaking of NaNoWriMo and writing during my commute time, that mention of a timer in the status bar sounds like a good idea.
Minio
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Christopher Fritz wrote:I only imagine they would be distractions. This is of course probably a limitation of my not using objects in writing (my text editor of choice is KATE, after all), so I'd be interested in seeing some use cases where it would be useful to include them in DFM.

Author is dedicated for writers of books and documentation. For book writers images may be distracting, but for documentation writers figures (not only images) may be considered essential part of their work. This is true especially for tutorials, who tend to be figure-rich.

I think that good compromise between these two user-cases would be displaying empty frame (possibly with background a bit darker/lighter than page background) in place of images. This way they are not distracting, but user has clean indicator that something is there. Visibility of these figures could be toggled with mouse-button click. There should be also option for user to change defaults (I can imagine three states: show indicator of image, show image, show nothing at all).


Best regards
Mirosław Zalewski
Using KDE 4.11.3 on Debian testing amd64.
User avatar tushantin
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My thoughts on distraction-free mode:

The first thing about "Distraction-free" is to eliminate any impulses of being distracted from writing -- the most a user need to focus on is writing, bold, italics, writing, word count, and writing. Also, did I mention writing? Hence, it's also necessary to remove any other fromatting liberties that the user may have in default mode. The user configuration of the mode would only be avaliable for writing / previewing purposes, and not the final export to PDF (which will be handled in the "Book Design" phase). In this case, the "Formatting" used for Distraction-free mode will remain separate until the user defines it to remain the same.

The formatting would render the entire text in the document in one "Style". Change the default indent of the first line in one paragraph, and the other paragraphs will also be affected similarly (only in "Distraction-Free" rendering). The fonts selected will also function globally, so as to eliminate the need of constantly re-adjusting them. Line-spacing can also be adjusted once, then left alone.

I know that, while these ideas are great for fiction writers, it can be troublesome for documentations and technical writing. But logically, I vote for having liberties only once you've come out from DF mode, unless someone's got an innovative idea.

Two modes can be adjusted for the DF mode -- writing on plain (colored?) page-less background, or on the "paper" layout (similar to LibreOffice and Yarny). The word-count, at a glance, could be shown at the bottom of the screen (but without the status bar, or without any toolbar, if possible); if in a toolbar, it should only be shown when the user moves the mouse, or points near the bottom. The quick notices at the wordcount itself gives the user motivation to carry on writing.

Most of the user-configuration settings should take place in the first time the user starts DF mode, so that the menus don't get in the way. The only other thing a user might need is quick-shortcuts for styles like "Heading", bold, italics, paragraph, etc.

Beyond that, I do have a non-conventional idea for the DF-mode: Pomodoro timer! :D
LeFritz
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I know it is 'in' to have a document editor that looks like a simple text editor, which I think is not the right way to go.
If you don't want to see any document structure then just use a text editor, I say ;-)

Don't get me wrong, I really don't like document editors like Word and all the others wordprocessors. BUT, in my opinion seeing the document structure is important for writing. Such as bigger character sizes for headers, different sizes for sections and such things. Unfortunately most people don't know how to use a word processor right. They don't use the formats for headings, sections, paragraph the way they should be used. They use bold, font sizes and font types.

That's why I think Lyx is great (lyx.org).
"LyX is a document processor that encourages an approach to writing based on the structure of your documents (WYSIWYM) and not simply their appearance (WYSIWYG)."
You just don't have any control about font sizes and so on. You choose a format for a paragraph which defines the *meaning* of the text not the layout. The layout is automatically done by TeX and the result looks great.
Unfortunately Lyx is a little bit difficult to handle if you don't know anything about Tex.

That's why I found this project very interesting. But then I was a little bit disappointed when I saw the first screenshot which looks like a regular word processor and not like a document editor similar to Lyx.

To me distraction free writing means to see the document structure and be able to define the documents elements in the right way, but NOT to have any control about the visual layout. This should be set once and is only for screen representation. What I mean is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WYSIWYM

Nevertheless, good luck for the project!

 
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