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Show HN: I've built yet another distraction free writing app which exports LaTeX (monsterwriter.app)
45 points by WolfOliver on Jan 8, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 27 comments

Very nice feature set! I especially like the referencing functionality and ToC. Though I wasn't able to test it out (stuck with Windows at work), here's some feedback:

In the example images, you write that you eliminated all toolbars - this is arguably false since I see a vertical one on the very left ;-). I would even get rid of this one and move the ToC to the left edge of the window. You can keep the help button (move it next to the MacOS window controls) and maybe even the export button (also next to window controls) but I'd rather make use of the system UX and use the MacOS toolbar instead (same for the preferences button, it's useless if you make use of the OS functionality).

I'd love to give this to my coworkers for their Wiki drafting, right now I have too many issues with people copying from Word and the system trying to do ... something with that input. Unfortunately, only Windows flies here ...

Thank you for the feedback :)

You've made a point with the toolbars. I have to get a Window machine and build the app for Windows too. I will decide then what to do with the toolbar and how it will look like with the native toolbar on window.

If you send me a mail (click the Feedback button on the website) I'll put you on the list with those people how receive a free version because of early feedback :)

There's some funky animation going on at the top. When I press space bar to scroll down, it skips over the Features section.

> We use cookies to ensure that you have the best experience on our website.

What does this mean? Why do you show me this? It's a static page!

Thank you for pointing out the space bar issue. A cookie is set by google analytics.

“Use Lists, Tables, Figures, Code Sections, Footnotes, Cross-References, Citings, Tables of Contents, ...”

Is there support for math? Weird if it doesn’t since it exports to LaTeX.

It's on the roadmap. There are a lot more things to do. Would be happy if you could help to bring them into an order and upvote your favorite feature:


If it has VIM keybindings, I'll pay. If not, not -- LyX is good enough if I'm not getting VIM keybindings.

Thank you for letting me know. Which bindings do you use the most?

Thanks for asking!

VIM keybindings means modal editing first and foremost, so:

  - ESC -> whatever that mode is called, where you get to use
    h, j, k, l, and other movement operators, d, c, r, R, I,
    o, O, etc to make edits and enter insert or replace mode,
    y/Y for yanking (copy), p/P for pasting, and so on

  - buffer registers

  - macros

  - : -> ex command mode where you get to enter ex commands
    (e.g., global search and replace, save, switch files,
    quit, and so on)
Of these the first is the most important -- I can do without ex command mode. I can also do w/o vimscript and all of the various features of VIM such as syntax highlighting (which is really not appropriate in a WYSIWYM/WYSIWYG LaTeX document context).

For editing documents with variable-width fonts I don't need ^V (rectangular block selection) for obvious reasons, but visual selection ('v') is still useful.

While in input mode it's nice to have ^D serve to reduce indentation (list depth in this context).

You should also have Emacs keybindings -- again, a subset will do.

ISTM that there are many offerings in this space, and I'll take LyX any day (because it's free and open source and it works), so you need something special to sell into this space, such as:

  - online collaborative editing
  - VIM keybindings
  - Emacs keybindings
  - a powerful DSL for transformations
    (this is why XML doesn't suck for _documents_: XSLT/XPath)
  - ...

Thank you for letting me know! I do not think that keybindings will be the next ting i'm adding.

The app is based on a custom JavaScript editor. I've started the development of this editor three years ago. It mainly took me so long because I've build it with collaborative editing in mind.

Today I would probably use ProseMirror for that, but back then I've decision to build a custom solution.

So collaborative editing is one big topic I've planed to introduce next.

jupyter notebooks with code mirror vim bindings and markdown preview is the closest I've found.

At this point you could also use VSCode with it's new built in notebook viewer and neovim.

I can't say whether you should do that, as I haven't tried it out, but it is the closest you'll get to vim without being vim.

Right, you don't need full VIM/Neovim -- for documents you can use a smallish subset of VIM/Neovim.

what do you mean? how? you can use neovim as the editor in the notebook?

got this setup and this still doesn't let you use vim in the notebook.

When Linux?

I think it will become available in one month. You can subscribe here to get informed: https://www.monsterwriter.app/newsletter.html

Mine's called org-mode, but you have to uninstall tetris first...

mine too! i also sometimes use lyx when i need to do things quickly!

org-mode is good but not everybody's first choice. For what are you using it for?

my work lab notebook.

i also write scientific manuscript drafts with it, as well as whitepapers and the like. And my emacs config, of course, though that's hardly distraction free.

the kitchin group at CMU blogs regularly on how to get the most out of using org to treat LaTeX as an IR, with fairly awesome success: https://kitchingroup.cheme.cmu.edu/blog/category/orgmode/

"And my emacs config, of course, though that's hardly distraction free." :D love to read this :D

org-mode on spacemacs against texlive for the win.


YADFWA? Seems to be an unGoogleable acronym :D

"Yet Another Dumb F*ing Writing App" is the best I can come up with. Which, if I'm right, is not really helpful.

IMO it might be true for markdown editors but not for writing apps.

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