I’d just like to try an experiment with today’s post. I think I’ve found an answer to the age-old problem of being able to type your research/blogging notes into your browser with your research window still open, yet retain the flexibility of the Internet on both sides of the productivity equation.
Are you with me?
For donkeys’, I’ve been looking for writing software that allows you to split the screen in your browser, type directly into the Internet and yet work independently on both halves of the window simultaneously. Too much too ask?
What Note-writing software is readily available?
Evernote, NoteTab Light and MS OneNote all have their plusses, but none offer the all-in-one package.
Evernote’s confirmed its main purpose is not a text editor and currently has no plans to introduce dual-window viewing/editing.
NoteTab Light’s pretty good, but that all depends on how you are working with nothing but plain text and 100% off-line.
MS OneNote is so versatile and you can keep it on top while you shrink the open window in your browser, but you can sometimes only shrink the window so much.
Also, the fact that you can’t align the content in the window right or left and you can’t stop OneNote scrolling discounts the combinations as 100% productive tools.
Chrome help had to have the answer…didn’t it?
In my frustration for an online solution, I turned to Chrome help and asked if there was any way I could align the screen content left or right, but that proved fruitless.
After much toing and froing with someone who eventually sussed what I was looking for, I got directed to a couple of ‘split screen’ apps in Chrome Web Store.
After playing with a couple, I decided on this one: Split Screen
The split screen is pretty flexible in that you can set defaults to what screens open when you launch the app, including external URLs. I’ve set to open with Writer on one side, notepad on the other.
Yet, it’s still no problem to flick between whatever windows you want to see on either side of the split, even without having to reload the screen. Pop in the URL or specified start-up code (very simple) and you’re away.
Being in Chrome, you get to see an awful lot of screen, facilitating the app perfectly.
In Firefox, I dunno. It always feels kinda cramped? Personal preference, I guess. Although Firefox I do find more responsive in a professional writing capacity, namely research and SEO tools. Never an easy fix, is there?
Writer is so much more than a Note Pad
Anyhoo, I got to playing with Writer and it is so much more than a simple plain text editor, like MS NotePad or the aforementioned NoteTab Light. Although, strictly speaking, if you’re producing HTML rich articles and web pages, Fookes’ NoteTab is sooooo much more than a plain text editor.
But this is about Writer. It actually stores all of your previous notes online, which you can edit, delete or ignore as you see fit. And you can set the font and background colour from the original ‘terminal’ appearance that’s the program’s default.
Furthermore, when you copy and paste into WordPress, it preserves the layout but, unlike MS Word, doesn’t slap all of the formatting into the HTML – it pastes as plain text only.
You can, if you want, download your notes as either a pdf or notepad article in one click, straight from the browser.
And what’s totally amazing, something sadly lacking in most of the other programs I’ve mentioned, is a realtime Word Count facility, which shows both word and character counts. Awesome!
You can log in with your Google, Yahoo! or OpenID accounts or choose a password/username – are you listening Small Rivers/Paper.Li?
And, lastly, you can apparently despatch your text as a draft to a whole host of blogging platforms, direct from the very document you’re typing into your browser. Stunning!
There are a couple of features I’d like to see added (of course there are)
I’d Love for Evernote Clearly to work within the framework itself.
At present, it’s a case of copying and pasting the text from your research site into a blank notepad and working side-by-side. But once you’re in there, you can cut off all interference from outside.
Update, 1st June, 2103: worked out that you can ‘share’ the link of Evernote notes, then paste the link inside the Split screen.
By typing ‘h’ into the one half of the split screen, you can halve that, too. You can either have two URLs or a research URL and a notepad:
The other thing that would be immensely useful is autotext.
As you can’t make HTML work from a visual aspect given that Writer is a notepad, the ability to type in “ahref” which is subsequently replaced with “<a href=”[URL]”>[Text to display]</a>” or “acro” to facilitate the print out of “<acronym title=”[Full Name]”>[acronym]</acronym>” would be cool.
You know, you could then compile your own little autotext library?
Mind you I could see if there’s an app for that in Chrome. The ‘Text Statistics app still works inside the frame, so a custom library may do, too.
And lastly, as is the case with Bit.ly, it would be great to be able to wallop a hashtag before certain words to populate the tags in Tumblr or WordPress automatically.
It’s alright you saying “You should remember what tags there are,” but I don’t know about you, when I’m in writing mode the last thing I want to concern myself with is editing.
And, talking of which, here I am.
Just chased the above article across cyberspace from the Big Huge Labs window in Chrome to WordPress.com.
True, it was via a nasty little incident with Malware in the WordPress dashboard that disappeared once I uninstalled SimilarSitesPro and Fat Joe, the two latest apps I’d popped on me Chrome toolbar.
Anyhoo, I can confirm, dear reader, that there was no text populating the title bar of the draft post, nor were there any tags pre-labelled.
However, the <body> text I’d written arrived here safe and sound.
What’s more, it’s loaded straight into the HTML dashboard of WordPress so any code you type into the Writer document and send to WordPress (and I assume Tumblr, et al, also) will be operable when it arrives at its destination.
Some free apps aren’t worth the memory they take up. But SplitScreen and Writer – I think I’ll get my money’s worth, to be sure.
What do you think? What’s your preferred writing software when you’re taking notes and editing non-fiction? Would love to hear from you.