Sunday, March 4, 2007

A software masterpiece


In the political/public relations world in which I live, I spend lots of time in front of a computer churning out various types of short-form and long-form writings. I'm always on the hunt for a tool to make that process simpler and more enjoyable.

I'd rather take out the crayons than write in MS Word. It's slow, bloated and a nightmare to format quickly. On the other end of the spectrum, simple text editors are blazing fast but lack features.

Over the years I've probably tried a dozen types of writing software. Just recently I found one that blows the others away. It's called Scrivener and I'm not the only person who is raving about it. User reviews are off the chart here.

A London writer named Keith Blount was unhappy with existing software so he taught himself coding and spent years designing his own software. The product he produced is a masterpiece.

It has several killer features, but for me, the one that dwarves all others is split screen mode. I've been looking for functional split screen software since my old reporter days, when I used that mode for all my stories. Having a source document side-by-side with the writing window is a godsend. Scrivener (above) allows you to do just that. You can split the screen vertically or horizontally and size the panes any way you want. Popping any document—text, .pdf, image, video—in either of the windows is a click away. Brilliant.

The software also has the best "full screen mode" I've seen. That is, it allows you to wipe all distractions by placing only the writing window on the screen.

Nobody is paying me to urge anyone who owns a Mac to try this software free for 30 days. There are other intriguing features I haven't even explored yet. If you like it, it's $34.99 for a full license. A small price to pay for the best writing software out there.

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