Over the last few days I’ve been playing around with a couple of writing tools for Mac OSX users that are really excellent.
While they are not blogging tools specifically they do offer writers some useful resources and for larger writing projects I think both would be invaluable (although you probably wouldn’t use both of them).
The first one is DEVONthink (I’ve been testing DEVONthink Pro). I found it after a recommendation over at Lifehacker (where Gina talked about using it to write her book) and am quite staggered by it’s power. You can import all kinds of documents (including importing parts of and full websites) then organize it in all kinds of different ways for printing or exporting. In essence it’s a database of content and I can see many applications for bloggers including the writing of books (as Gina did), having a version of your website on your computer (when you’re offline) or for drafting post.
One of the most useful parts of DEVONthink Pro is it’s concordance and ability to show you potential links between your different documents. There’s still a lot more for me to discover in it – but I’m seriously considering paying for the full version once my 150 hour trial ends.
DEVONthink is great for web users too – with RSS integration (I’m yet to fully explore it) and the ability to quickly clip information into your database as you surf. It also lets you export ‘as a website’ which is pretty cool (although I’m yet to do it).
The second application that I’ve been testing is Scrivener – a program that has been getting quite a bit of attention in the last few days since it’s 1.0 release. Again it’s a Mac OSX application and again I can see many applications.
I’m still exploring this (having only just downloaded it) but there are some similarities with DevonTHINK as it gives you the opportunity to import documents, edit them and organize them for exporting in different forms.
Scrivener has a nice corkboard feature for organizing your different ideas (using ‘index cards’) and I can see myself using it if I were putting together a longer series of posts as it gives you a few different ways of viewing the information you’re compiling. Full screen editing is also very nice (a way of being able to fully concentrate upon your writing with no visual distractions).
My initial reaction to Scrivener is that it’s not as powerful a tool as DEVONthink Pro (and to compare them is probably not really fair) but I’m impressed by both so far and if I were about to start writing a book or some other larger project I’d definitely look to base it around one or the other.
Unfortunately there’s no direct or easy way of getting text out of Scrivener onto a blog without copying and pasting and a bit of messing around – otherwise it could well be perfect for bloggers.
Both DEVONthink and Scrivener are great tools for brain dumping information from different sources – something I do a lot of – and I could see either being useful in a day to day way to full time bloggers looking to get themselves organized.
Particularly Scrivener’s cordboard/index cards could be useful. You could assign a corkboard to each category from your blog and then brainstorm topics – one with each index card – which could then be expanded upon with examples, illustrations and ideas over time.
Both have free trial versions. DEVONthink’s is 150 hours and Scrivener 30 days.