WriteRoom – Long Live the Console

Christian Neukirchen (A.K.A. Anarchaia) pointed out a Mac OS X app called WriteRoom (there’s a Windows twin called Dark Room). It’s a full-screen text editor with absolutely no word processing features. No bold, no italic, no paragraph formatting, just text. As the introduction says:

Walk into WriteRoom and your busy computer life fades away. The distractions of e-mail, the web, and your thousand desktop icons are gone. Only you and your text remain. This is a place where work gets done and procrastination has no place.

Very interesting, since what I dislike most about modern GUI apps is the “thousand icons” approach — every edge of the screen stuffed with row upon row of buttons, menus, icons, palletes, scrollbars, pop-up reminders, status messages, and clocks, all there to prove to you how incredibly feature-packed this amazing piece of software is. When I want to work on serious writing, I fire up Emacs full-screen. WYSIWYG is great for preparing a document for printing, but it’s incredibly distracting. In my day job I spend hours just removing formatting inadvertantly introduced when a writer hit CTRL instead of SHIFT.

What’s funny about WriteRoom is how much it looks like an old text terminal, green-on-black text and all. Maybe it really is true that everything comes back into fashion if you wait long enough.