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Distraction free writing and the simplest blogging platform in one (throwww.com)
100 points by akos on Jan 6, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 63 comments

I really like the design and look of throwww, and I don't mean to pick on it - but every time I see these minimalist low-friction writing engines, I feel like a very big thing is missing; facilitating editing, and encouraging a greater purpose for text.

Something I'm reminded of every time I reach the bottom of a pg essay, or every time I look back on the writing I'm most proud of, is that time was taken to consider and craft the text. Crucially, the text - and its ideas - was shared with others, feedback was gathered, and the text further refined.

Low-friction composition is important; it's a huge boost to have a simple clean slate with which to begin. But often once that initial effort is over with, good writing becomes a work of careful refinement. Here's some things I haven't found in any platform that would be great;

1. Full revision history. Every keystroke I've made, every tiny little edit should be saved. Everything. In order. Everything. This is a small data problem.

2. Once I create some text, I'd like to be able to share it privately with my trusted testers and feedbackers. They should be able to highlight text and make notes in-place. If I trust them enough - or they are an actual nominated human editor - they should be able to edit the text.

3. Some guidelines for good clear writing are automatable. An editor could tell me when a sentence is getting very long. An editor could detect obscure or imprecise words and suggest alternatives. An editor could detect repetition of mundane words or phrases. You get the idea ... the point is that real work can be done here.

4. It would be nice to be able to make margin notes, and to track goals. It is common to sketch out in advance the purpose or goals of a text; the outline and key points to be included. It'd be neat to be able to check them off as progress is made.

Or in summary; it'd be nice to see a tool that took as its goal that writing itself can be made more effective, rather than merely prettier.

"1. Full revision history. Every keystroke I've made, every tiny little edit should be saved. Everything. In order. Everything. This is a small data problem."

A 'replay' function would be good as well. I have a feeling that what I actually do when editing is different to what I like to think I do. This feeling is based on some screen videos I did a little time back.

Sounds like you're looking for Etherpad. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etherpad

Woah just happened to come across this! Thanks for sharing, akos.

I built (and am continuously working on) throwww. Let me know if you have any questions. Also here's kind of a mission statement of sorts http://throwww.com/a/1

A page on throwww is on Reddit returning "Server error": http://throwww.com/a/3xm (via http://www.reddit.com/r/programming/comments/164cnb/how_abou...). This is very bad PR.

ankit84 a few comments below linked to http://throwww.com/a/41k which is also not showing up.

You could have the best UI in the world--nobody's going to use your service if it randomly deletes their work.

I wrote a post last night and "saved it" so that I'll continue to work on it later. Its non-existent now. So, drafts don't exist? What does the "save" button do then?

Looks like you need to bookmark the url that is generated when you save. It's probably still in your browser history (with the same title of as your post).

You are welcome! Love Throwww..will be using it actively!

Pretty minor detail, but got me thinking. I like that the site has a Markdown video tag using the following form:

Haven't seen that in any other Markdown implementations (always hate having to copy the embed code in for Tumblr's half-assed version of it). Is it new to Throwww or is it from another Markdown variation?

I added it in addition to markdown. It's a python package I found a while back.

I really, really like the interface. I'd love to use it for my blog, but I'd want a self hosting version. I've been burnt too many times by hosted/proprietary writing platforms.

If you're not keen on self-hosting, I'd want: - the ability to export to an importable format (eg, wordpress's WXR). Exporting html/text is all well and good, but I need to be able to migrate - other stuff I'm sure you've thought about, like custom domains, custom URLs (eg /this-is-the-post-title) etc - discoverability of other users/"blogs" on the network

Nice work though. I really like it.

Hey benrhughes, thanks for feedback. I put together this update on where throwww is going. I think you'll like the direction :)


Excellent, looks great.

Why would someone publish his writings when the website does not even publish Privacy Policy and Terms of Use?

* Who owns the content ?

* Are they going to keep there for lifetime?

* How would you make money and let us write? In future they can monetize on my content.

btw, let me admit, I created one for linkback http://throwww.com/a/41k

Would be nice to randomize the url id so that you cannot see all the posts that have ever been written just by doing +1 on the number.

Also, I usually stick to Wordpress because you can embed code. Any plans to allow syntax highlighting?


A front-end dev friend of mind asked for code-embedding/syntax highlighting too! I'd be happy to add it if I can come up with an elegant implementation. Is there a "markdown" for code that you know of?

Github uses Pygments: http://pygments.org/

I don't know what language you're using, but here's a Ruby library for it: https://github.com/tmm1/pygments.rb

Edit: Scrolled down and saw Django. Pygments is native to Python, so you might be in luck if you want to use that.

Awesome, thanks. Will definitely add code support in coming days/weeks.

If you're going to add support for code (and you should!), consider also adding support for TeX. Something like MathJax[1] should work well.

What language are you in? pygments seems to be the best regarded.

This is great! I've been thinking about writing down some of my experiences and thoughts lately, but didn't want to go with some full-blown blogging platform. I considered just having a github repo where I would just push up my *.md files, but this is even easier.

My only concern is my ability to get content back for archiving. Is there a way we could export the articles to some simple format? Either markdown or even just a plain text file?

Thanks! I made throwww for the exact same reason. Nothing quite fit my use case.

As for your concern. A few users have requested a "download" feature to archive their posts. The features I'm planning on adding in the short term include

* "Download" support. Probably XML or RTF options.


* "Discover" page with curated/voted posts. Kind of like user pages (e.g., throwww.com/u/sfard) except with content from several users

* subdomain user support (i.e., username.throwww.com)

* Potentially "groups"

I shared my thoughts about some features I would love to see in the future: http://throwww.com/a/2r4 ;)


Wow, very handsome. I like it--I was just wondering what platform I could use to share thoughts that are a bit longer than a tweet but maybe don't merit a full blog post with all the bells and whistles.

My only gripe is that when I clicked on my profile it said, "This guy hasn't written anything yet." which was slightly off-putting as I am not actually a "guy."

Wow, I just realized how androcentric that is. I just changed it.

Cool, thanks!

Pen.io ?

Seems to me like a web browser is the last place you'd be able to pull off distraction-free anything.

you could use one of the various strategies for disabling access to distracting websites (hosts file, rescuetime, et al) while you were using this if it's really an issue. I think "distraction-free" was referring to the fact that the interface doesn't distract you with a bunch of bells and whistles though.

I think doing anything on a networked computer would be a poor place for distraction-free anything.

If you're interested in these new blogging services, check out Medium[1] which is built by the same guy who build Blogger, and Feathers[2] which is also in the "distraction free blogging" space. I like this trend of minimalism and clean layouts but I do not like the same idea being repeated over and over again without good execution (How do I view posts? Where is the post index? Where is the submit button? Where is the privacy policy and ToS? How will you attain user engagement with such an app? Who owns the content?). More importantly, what does your application offer that other applications in this space do not?



Considering that both of those are in private betas, I can't say either is really relevant to someone wanting to use a service right now. Kudos to sfard for actually launching something.

avolcano, your comment makes me so happy. Nothing wrong with other blog platforms. I wont bash them. I'm just building throwww as something that I hope has value for people.

Another alternative, which is not in private beta but offers the same kind of ease for editing is http://checkthis.com. Disclaimer: I work there.

That said, checkthis is not distraction free. It's more about getting easily a beautiful page on the web, with good social network integrations and a possible instant feedback through the comment pane on the right of your page.

(And regarding some comments not so far, we are supporting Unicode quite well, we have lots of page in Russian for example).

I like it.

But I was a bit surprised to see a commenting system in it. This isn't what I expected after having read "Why I Made Throwww" [1]. A blog-like commenting system is not what I would associate with simplicity, nor "the purity of just a message".

Also, a little idea for easy improvement (IMHO): display the length of the text, i.e. the number of words and/or the time to read (e.g. based on a naive average of 250 words per minute [2]).

  [1] http://throwww.com/a/1
  [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reading_%28process%29#Reading_rate

What I always check first for these tools, is support of partial unicode. And almost always I am faced with total ignorance of such. It's 21st century, guys.

Post: http://throwww.com/a/3nr

Screenshot (Chrome, win64): http://www.flickr.com/photos/laacz/8357406754/in/photostream...

Hey everyone, thanks for the feedback. Based on what I've been hearing lately, I wrote a small article about throwww's direction. http://throwww.com/a/45r

Comment if you want anything you don't see. Not promising it'll get built, but it might be something I haven't considered.

Thanks again.

Looks very clean. I wonder how do I upload images? Or is this only for pure text blogging?

There are a handful of very popular sites for uploading and hotlinking relatively small (under 2MB) images. Right now, imgur.com is probably the best-known.

One of the disadvantages to using imgur is that it's blocked for a lot of corporate users.

I'd suggest instead to use S3. Things like S3Fox[1] make uploading easy.

[1] http://www.s3fox.net

I think it would be better if the site handles all that for me. Having to switch to another site for uploading images is kinda 'distracting' to me.

Agreed. Throwww was never originally supposed to have image support, but it seems pretty needed now. I'll add to to-do

Looks great!

The problem with all blogging platforms though is that we always focus on making the writing experience better rather than making the audience experience better.

Give me this simplicity, plus a built in way for me to get eyeballs and I'm all yours!

Very sweet interface and love the look. What is the market for these type of services though? Who uses them and why? I can't seem to think of a lot of use cases personally and hardly ever see anything linked from one.

Very cool, this could be what svbtle should have been.

If you implement the things like trending and subdomain user blogs (with things like domain hosting add-ons in the future) I could see it being a very useful blogging alternative.

Nice work.

Thanks, here's where throwww is going. You might like. http://throwww.com/a/45r

Add full-screen button for complete distraction-freeness. And there are some server errors, not sure why http://throwww.com/a/337

Pretty awesome, I love the simplicity.

Curiosity. What have you used technically?

Thanks. Django + Postgres + Javascript.

love the user page and writing experience.

quick thoughts:

formatting would be a distraction

include "media box" (music/img/url/vimeo)

would be nice to get lost inside of throwww following threads, authors, subjects... or else make twitter serve as the navigation through different "throwww's"

maybe instead of downloading the posts, they "evaporate" within... 2 days? temporality is cool and goes along with the name.

I used this tool only to share my comments


OK, I give up. I don't see any save button. I don't see any way to post. Lost one test file already.

Scroll down my friend.

I don't like the textarea field, if I write too much it scrolls and hide what I previously wrote.

Personally, I found the lack of an interface he most distracting part. It just didn't feel right.

everyone can delete other people's posts? (in anonymous mode)

No... only your own.

If you guess someone else's url and they haven't logged in, you can in some cases delete their post.

yet another paper plane logo :-)

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