I really enjoy writing, and when I’m writing, I really enjoy using a distraction-free editor. These are editors that occupy the whole of the screen, eliminating ancillary UI elements in order to help you focus on the writing alone. Maybe it’s just a placebo effect, but I do find these kinds of editor help me get “in the zone” and knock out a few pages of text, with less temptation to check Twitter or browse Reddit.
There’s a lot of good desktop distraction-free editors out there, particularly for the Mac. But I’m a web guy, so I wanted one for the web. As it turns out, there’s quite a few for the web as well, but I wasn’t able to find one that had the exact mix of features I was looking for. In particular, I wanted something that:
- Utilised the new Fullscreen API
- Completely eliminated UI elements while writing
- Supported both light-on-dark and dark-on-light colour schemes.
- Didn’t require me to register or log in to use it.
- Didn’t require me to save my stuff in the cloud.
I couldn’t find anything that fit the bill exactly, so I decided to make something myself. The result is Engross. It’s very much at an alpha stage right now, and will only work properly in the latest version of Chrome, but it’s nevertheless quite close to the distraction-free writing nirvana that’s right for me. I’m hoping to improve it further over the next few weeks, in particular getting multiple document support in, and making it work better across different browsers.
I’m planning to write a few blog posts about how I built Engross over the next month. There’s nothing in its that’s totally world-shattering, but I think it’s a nice demonstration of some new web features, and helps to highlight a couple of places where browsers are still falling down.