Calligra Author - The Next Step
Looking BackToday is one year and 3 days since we announced the Calligra Author project. The aim of the project is to produce a tool that helps writers produce ebooks with extra focus on novels, which are inherently long texts, and textbooks with lots of pictures and maybe dynamic contents like videos.
In the announcement I wrote: "We will make sure that Calligra Author will be a useful tool for all phases of the writing process". We analyzed the writing process together with some writer friends and came up with 4 phases of the process: planning, writing, review and publishing.
Our goal was to provide help to the writer in all these phases, giving him/her something above what a normal word processor does. Our starting point was Calligra Words, the word processor of the Calligra Suite.
The first step was to ask writers what they needed, which we did through a thread in the KDE Forum. The result was that we decided to start with the following features:
- Planning: -
- Writing: word count in the status bar and distraction free writing mode
- Review: Notes, also known as annotations and export to MS DOCX format
- Publishing: export to EPUB2 and MOBI formats.
Two weeks ago, we released Calligra 2.7 and the status is that we have finished or almost finished every one of these features. I am very sorry to say that we didn't have time to finish the annotations or the docx export before the feature freeze so these features will be released in Calligra 2.8. But they are basically done now with just some polishing to finish them up.
Features that we have implemented in addition to the originally planned ones are partial export to EPUB3, including video and mathematical formulas, and support for book cover images.
I should perhaps also mention that all of the features above (perhaps except the book covers - I am not sure) are also available for Calligra Words users since they are of a more general nature.
Looking ForwardSo... Since we managed to do all we set out to do in the first year, it is time to look into the next set of features. In short: What do you want next?
I have asked some writers I know and also come up with one or two ideas myself and here is a short list of things that are hot right now:
of different kinds
- A navigator. This will be a docker in the sidebar that will show you all the headings and let you easily navigate to any place in the text. We will probably also add support for bookmarks and separators (see below) in the same overview.
- Section separators. Or perhaps better: scene separators. This are
those small miniature things that you put between your scenes to
indicate that something changes but where you still want to remain in
the same chapter as before.
You can see some examples of what we are thinking of to the right here. These were done by Dan Leinir Thutra Jensen, who also wished the feature in the first place.
- Autocomplete of a limited set of words. This is a specific wish from one writer who wants autocompletion of some names and long words that are easy to get wrong when you write them many times.
- Wiki export and import. Another specific wish from people who want to edit wiki pages with Calligra Author.This one will almost certainly happen. The export is partly done already and the import is planned. We are also working on a simple wiki navigator that lets you load and save pages in the wiki without help from a browser.
- Import styles from another document or template. This is useful when you have a book and want to change the visual appearance of the whole text. Instead of tweaking all the styles of the document you would be able to just import all the styles from for instance a nice book template that you found on the web or a friend sent you.
Finally, you may have noticed that I haven't mentioned anything about the planning phase. I am actually looking at implementing what is done in the Plume Creator or Scrivener or a number of other similar programs. But this is a really big feature and will not be ready for 2.8. If we are lucky it could be done in a first version for 2.9 (or is that 3.0?).