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Request for feedback: Edward the App

isaacdlyman profile image Isaac Lyman ・1 min read

Over the past month, I've dedicated several nights and weekends to building a simple app named Edward.

Edward is a web app designed to help aspiring authors write their first book.

He looks like this:

App screenshot

If you want a full introduction to why and how I built him, you can read this blog post. He's definitely just an MVP right now, and I haven't announced him anywhere except my personal blog and dev.to so far. I'm looking for some good feedback before I release him into the wild.

This is my request: try him out and tell me if you like him, what features are confusing, or how he could be more helpful to you in writing your first book. He's got a free "demo mode" up and running so you won't need to create an account or share any personal info.

Demo mode

Sound off in the comments, even if all you've got is a first impression.

I'd be happy to answer any questions about him.

And I'll gladly return the favor, if you're working on a project of your own (you can reach me on Twitter).

Thanks!

Discussion (13)

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aurelkurtula profile image
aurel kurtula • Edited

I loved it!

First of all, I'm not a book author but I love note taking apps. So I might not be the right person, well, clearly I'm not, but I like the app so I might as well tell you what I think (no harm)

First of all I really love it. It reminds me of Scrivener but this is easier to use. I had to play with Scrivener for up to a week to figure out it wasn't for me, where as this was very easy to use.

First impression is I were to use this every day:

The plan area is fantastic. I like how one can add as many sections as the want. The archive is brillian. the fact that the sections come back where they were instead of going to an "archived view. Maybe the two ways of adding a plan is too much (since they are close together), but after the first "I added added the plan, I wander what the plus does" the user gets it. I love the ability to change the order.

Outline section is cool

The write section. Fantastic. I love the fact that I have access to the plan and outline right there.

I had to think about how to add a chapter outline when I'm on the write tab, but I quickly found I needed to go to the outline tab.

Also (this is where I'm not a writer, I don't know) should I be able to have different number of topics in each chapter? At the moment, you add a new topic to "chapter 1" outline, and all the other chapters get it. Maybe it's perfect for book writers - don't know.

I exported a pdf. Two things came to mind, neither important: 1) Would anyone need to export the outline as well? Could my book have a table of contents :)

Oh, nearly forgot, I like the analyze tab. "most common words" I get, "Word over time" I don't get. I entered few of the common words and can't see the difference.

I pasted 1357 words and got 10 common words, "-" included. DOn't have an opinion on that ...

Personal preferance

  • I love my writing section to be centered (you have it on the left)
  • If I star writing it might be nice to be on full mode.
  • Or, the ability to move the minimap (which I love) to the left - have the main writing WYSIWYG centered
  • I stopped using evernote, and many other tools because of typography, so I'd prefer the typography on the actual writing WYSIWYG editors to be ... maybe like here.

Lastly. I'm writing my book and I want to add outlines on "events", "scenes" and "characters". I feel like they are card card like. It wouldn't add much value, it just be cool :)

Fantastic experience using it

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isaacdlyman profile image
Isaac Lyman Author

Wow, this is awesome feedback! Thanks Aurel. If you'd like to be an advisor to the project over the long term, consider this your invitation.

  • I don't know how writers prefer to organize in-chapter outlines. I went with my gut on that one, but I appreciate you pointing out that I should do some specific user testing on that one.
  • Exporting outlines is definitely something I've thought about. I'll add it to the Trello board.
  • "Word over time" is meant to track your usage of a specific word (say, "beeswax") in each of your chapters. If you use it a ton in Chapter 1 and not at all in Chapter 2, you'll see a \ graph.
  • I definitely need to fix the "Most Common Words" to not track dashes. Haha. Thanks.
  • I think centering the writing section is a good idea. I'll put that on the roadmap.
  • Full mode = distraction-free, right? Definitely something I'd like to add in the future.
  • Two things I'd appreciate more explanation about: typography (I don't know the first thing about it, other than what I see in printed books), and your second to last para ("I want to add outlines on..."). I'm not sure what you mean.

Thanks again for chiming in.

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aurelkurtula profile image
aurel kurtula • Edited

Thanks for the invitation, count me in.

The two things are both nit-picking really!

Typography

I would not be able to work on that editor for too long. The text doesn't have enough line hight and and I don't like the type - it hurts my eyes. The font style in this editor (here at dev.to) is easier to read then the fond style in your editor (screenshot bellow).

However, I could be wrong because, if I remember correctly, both evernote and scivener (definitely scivener) use similar font to your editor. I think is crappy - that's the only reason I don't use evernote. But, considering so many people use those apps, I must be wrong - even though, honestly if I was a writer, at some point I would stop using you otherwise great app.

Basically, if your code editor use that font-family, would you be able to code all day?

As for "I want to add outlines on..."

I can't see it being a big "must have" but if I my memory is correct, this is the only feature I loved in scrivner. Basically, topics within topics.

My chapter has three topics (as you called them) "Events, Scenes, Conversations". I have 5 scenes in my head. At the moment I can write them just as I wrote this comment, and have headings "scene a", "scene b" ... . What if I have the ability to create each scene as a sub topic? The end result is 5 seperate scenes in the scenes topic.

This is exactly what I had in mind:

(Incase you're wondering, the book is called "The amazing Bob" - ha)

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isaacdlyman profile image
Isaac Lyman Author

Aurel - can we continue this conversation by Twitter or other media? I have some questions.

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aurelkurtula profile image
aurel kurtula

Sure, twitter I guess.

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shriharshmishra profile image
Shriharsh

I am not a writer but I am impressed seeing what this app can do! It helps in structuring the content which many novice writers like me might miss.

Any serious writer would probably love the features and the analysis.

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isaacdlyman profile image
Isaac Lyman Author

Thanks so much, Shriharsh. I hope you'll keep in touch with the project and let me know if you have any suggestions.

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bobbypriambodo profile image
Bobby Priambodo

Oh wow, Edward is really neat!

I just tried writing a dummy novel in it, and I can definitely see what each feature contributes to helping me write, taking notes, and so on. The minimap is a nifty one, lets me get the picture of how my story is "shaped". The defaults on plans and outlines give a clear idea on what you should take notes of, particularly for beginners. And the analysis! :D

However I can see how things get out of hand if the features really pile up, so you might want to restrain a little and test it to potential users (if you are/have, then great!). Given the outline and plans are already present on the "Write" page, do you really need a dedicated "Plan" and "Outline" pages?

Overall, color me impressed!

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isaacdlyman profile image
Isaac Lyman Author

Thanks a bunch, Bobby. I think "keep it simple" is always the right advice, but it's hard for me to know where to draw the line.

I've asked myself a few times if Plans and Outlines need their own pages. And for now I lean toward "yes," but I'm definitely entertaining arguments to the contrary.

Thanks for your compliments. I hope you'll stay in touch.

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burzumumbra profile image
Ronald Flores Sequeira

I really like it, it makes a lot of sense separate your focus on chapters, actually I will be using your app to write blog posts and College docs.

But if your target are professional writers y hope you support another type of save methods since a JSON is not likely to be useful for non programmers.

Other thing for me is the export to PDF which it glitch your content, again for professional writers having to copy&paste all chapters on another tool to get the font they want, the size they want and no get glitchy PDF may not seem really comfortable to use.

And finally the pagination support is something I feel it needs.

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isaacdlyman profile image
Isaac Lyman Author

Hi Ronald. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • JSON is mostly for backing up your work. It's not intended to be human-readable.
  • I've worked out most of the glitches with the PDF export, I think. If you can provide an example of your content being glitched, I'll make note of the bug and fix it soon.
  • PDFs can be opened directly in Microsoft Word, which I believe is the standard for authors. Someday there will be better Microsoft Word support, but for now this should suffice.
  • Can you help me understand what you mean by "pagination support"?
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bengreenberg profile image
Ben Greenberg

This is seriously a beautiful app. What a great job!

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isaacdlyman profile image
Isaac Lyman Author

I'm not a graphic designer, so I'm actually very surprised to hear the word "beautiful" in reference to my app. Thanks so much, Ben.