Tools for Writing a Book

Posted on 2012-11-11 by Jan Vantomme
Tags: writing

In this short article, I'll take you through the applications I've used to write my book on Processing. I've mainly used three small pieces of software to keep my productivity high: iA Writer, Github for Mac and MiniShadow.

Distraction-free writing

To deliver each chapter for my book to my publisher, I had to use Microsoft Word with the exact formatting they need to style the book for layout. I don't like word processing software. It's usually bloated with features I don't need, and it doesn't give me the typographic control I'm used to. As for writing, it's even worse, so I've used iA Writer. It's a great app with a minimal interface, so you can focus on writing, and it uses markdown to format the text. In the end, I still had to use Word to format the text, but not using it to write saved me some headaches.

Syncing Across Computers

The fact that iA writer uses markdown for formatting made it really easy to sync my content across all my computers. I've created a private Github repository to store all my code examples and markdown files. A nice thing about writing in markdown, is that Github automatically converts it to html when you view these files on the website. Using Github also made it easier to test the code on different operating systems, and different versions of Processing.

Cleaning up Screenshots

When you take screenshots on Mac OS X using Cmd + Shift + 4 and the spacebar, you'll end up with an image of the window you need. Unfortunately, this image will also include the default Mac OS X shadow. To avoid manual cropping, I've used MiniShadow by Blue Crowbar Software. This nifty app removed the nasty shadows automatically, and made my screenshots ready for publishing. No more cropping in Photoshop saved me a lot of time, so that $2 for the app was spent really well.

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