I'm developing a writing app and I'm interested to know what features would be most appreciated for such a thing.

I am most interested in writing versus editing, tooling versus immersion, organizing, sharing, exporting, cloud backup, but these are my points of interest. If I'm over/underestimating something, please tell.

One feature per answer would be great, as it would allow sorting by number of upvotes.


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    Questions on Stack Exchange sites have to be specific and answerable; lists of suggestions like this, I'm afraid, don't meet that requirement. Unless you can ask a specific question here, I'm going to have to close this question. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Feb 15 '13 at 0:57
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    Hi Neil. As a stackoverflow veteran I can see what your point is. Yes, it is a list, but not a "what's your favorite programmers joke" like, it's a list about what could make a good writing software, which could potentially turn into an answer to a few questions here. From my point of view it's a very specific question and, as people are both answering and voting, legit. – Sorin Comanescu Feb 15 '13 at 7:46
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    What's "tooling vs. immersion"? A full-screen writing environment? – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Feb 15 '13 at 14:17
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    I think I'd better give two extreme (?) examples: MS Word, with its rich user interface, versus a full-screen, "just me and the text" app. – Sorin Comanescu Feb 15 '13 at 18:16

As silly as this may sound: the ability to turn every single function OFF if desired.

Bells and whistles are great. Some people love them. I hate a lot of them, although not always.

Sometimes I want my word processor to catch my CApitalization typos and repeated words. Sometimes I don't. I don't want it looking over my shoulder so it can complain if I use passive voice. I don't want it to automatically superscript "th" in 20th. Sometimes I don't want it to turn every bulleted sentence into an indented list, but sometimes that's exactly what I want.

So I want the ability to turn all those tools on and off, easily. Whatever whizbang features you end up adding to your app, I want a toggle for them so I can choose to use them or not.

  • Most writing apps of this variety are a form of "zenware". An example that I've used in the past is WriteMonkey. – Joe Z. Feb 15 '13 at 2:52
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    Thanks Lauren, this looks like an option to be carefully considered. – Sorin Comanescu Feb 15 '13 at 10:38

Take a good long look at Scrivener. Note that the link has a Scrivener for Dummies title as the first thing you see. That is either insulting or an admission of failure.

Scrivener is software makes it easy to write and organize a book. But there are certain things about it that are maddening, because they look trivial and simple but are actually unintuitive to the point of utter opacity (see Scrivener for Dummies reference above). It's fine to be able to organize a book into subsections, but exporting those in a way that makes visual sense in the compiled novel is a task I had to Google to figure out—and even then I had to experiment with checking and unchecking level-inclusions and the like, over and over. Then when I switched from the Mac to the PC and tried to use the new computer (which runs the Windows port of the originally Mac-only software an order of magnitude faster than my Mac), it lost all that section information. How? Why? Help!

If you can see how easy they make the writing and how awkward they make everything else, and can put that difference into a UI that fixes the problems, you will have a killer product.

  • Looking for strong and weak points of other apps was already on my list. Thanks for pointing out Scrivener and what to look for. I'm glad this very short lived question managed to get two valuable answers. – Sorin Comanescu Feb 18 '13 at 8:49

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