WordKeeperAlpha and National Novel Writing Month

In the beforetimes, there was National Novel Writing Month.  A spectacular explosion of writing and creativity, it brought author to keyboard like nothing since the creation of the typewriter.   When I first participated it was an interesting experiment to see if I could manage to write a full fifty thousand words in a single month.  By some miracle I managed to do it!  It was awesome!  I felt invincible and was keen to keep using their mighty handy tools and graphs to continue on into December.

But then they disappeared: Gone until next November (or the camp event that’s in the summer but we all know that it isn’t as good.) This, I thought, shall not stand, for I have a need for those motivational tools.  Thus was born the inspiration for WordKeeperAlpha.  Now, just a couple short years after my first NaNoWriMo, its a thing that I created that people actually use.  This is enough to blow my feeble mind.

Now, I would never want people to not participate in NaNoWriMo on their website.  That’s where the magic really happens.  You get together with your fellow authors and keep pushing the words out until you hit your goal.  But, if you use WordKeeperAlpha too, and want to keep track of the words you write in November, here’s a quick and handy guide to getting your project set up.

First, if you don’t have one, sign up for an account on WordKeeperAlpha.com.  Go on, I’ll wait until you’re up and running.  … … Good?  Eh, they’ll catch up.

Next, go to your Goals and Projects page, and click the “Add a project button.” Refer to the image below to add in the information then click “Create”.

nanoproject

Bam! You’re already ready to go!  But wait, you probably want one of those nifty graphs like you see on NaNoWriMo.org.  For that, you’ll need a goal, in fact, you’ll probably want two goals.  First, we’re going to create a repeating monthly goal, which is what will create that nifty graph.  Before we do that though, you’ll have to remove any other repeating monthly goals that you might have, or just edit one.

Use the information below.

nanogoal

Make sure you keep the project field blank.  Due to a problem with the way I originally made the code you can’t have a project selected for that graph, but its something that will be fixed in time for next year’s NaNoWriMo.  This means that all the words you log in November will be displayed on the graph…which is a short coming, I know…but if you’ve got time to write more than one thing in November you really have my respect.

Next, you’ll probably want a repeating daily graph.  Use the information below to create it.

dailygoal

There! You’re done and ready to go for National Novel Writing Month!

Some people have asked me if there’s any way to support WordKeeperAlpha, (yes, they really have) and one of the best ways is to spread the word.  The more users I have the better I feel about myself as a human being.  It’s a sweet balm to my black soul.  But, there’s no financial way to do that yet for reasons.  While I will have something soon, this month, if you’d like to do something for WordKeeperAlpha, instead think about going over to NaNoWriMo.org and making a donation.  Without them, this crazy project never would have happened.

In future years, once I’ve gotten better organized, I plan on doing an actual campaign for them, so for now I’ll just send people to donate to them directly.  The good people at NaNoWriMo.org depend on the donations of all the authors they encourage every year.  So if you’ve got five dollars to spare, go and drop it in their tip bucket, or give them a shout out on Twitter or Facebook.  We want to keep them doing what they’re doing and supporting developing authors into the far future.

Ok, that’s enough chatter from me.  I’m six hundred words into my day’s word count and I have much more left to do.  Later, Keepers.


WordKeeperAlpha update: Ending the long silence

Oif. I did not mean to go this long without an update.  My wife and I purchased a house earlier this month and we’re just getting to the point where we can afford some time in the evening to relax.  I only just got my desk into a state that I can use it… meaning that I still have to put the drawers together, and set up half a dozen other different things.  This all means that I haven’t really done any work on WordKeeperAlpha since … August?  I don’t really know… I’m still kind of exhausted from running around everywhere.  This is the most I’ve written in the last month and I feel terrible about it.

Sigh.

So. Nothing has really changed on WordKeeperAlpha since last months update.  I’m still getting reports of a bug on the Goals and Projects page.  I kind of know what’s causing it…but I also don’t really know how I’m going to fix it yet.  The bug manifests as the page throwing an error and not loading, which is bad.  The good news is, if you come back the next day its worked itself out.  So, if it happens to you, don’t fret!  If you come back the next day you’ll be back in business.  This isn’t saying that it isn’t a priority for me to fix, just give me another week or so to get back on my feet here.

Obviously, NaNoWriMo is coming up, and I want to participate this year.  I have no idea what I’m going to be writing yet, but I’m leaning toward something new, since a month away from Impervious has killed my velocity on it anyway.  We’ll see.  October is starting and I want to get back into things with a 20,000 word month, get all warmed up for NaNo but given all the work around the house that probably isn’t going to happen.  Still, I’m going to get writing again.

I’d like to have the new Goals and the new Projects page live before NaNoWriMo…but wisdom tells me that launching a major new feature right before I’m going to be super busy writing and the site will probably be seeing some of its highest traffic all year is not a smart thing to do.  So, I’ll spend some time in October plugging the holes in the current functionality and maybe toss together that updated About and Home page that I’ve been wanting to do.  Trust me, new stuff is coming and it’s coming soon.  I’ve just been … busy is a woefully inadequate word…but busy.  Now that I have my computer back and a modicum of time, I will be able to keep you better updated as to happenings as well.

So fear not! I’m not gone! WordKeeperAlpha is only going to keep getting better and better, only now I’m going to be working on it from the comfort of my very own house!

Phew! Writing all that was hard work.  I think I need to go lie down for a while.  Probably just go to bed.  See you later, Keepers.


WordKeeperAlpha – Bugfix (August Edition)

Just a quick update today.  Today’s update should, finally, fix the bug that kept people from having their sessions last longer than thirty minutes or so.  So, now if you check the ‘Remember Me’ button will make sure that when you leave, you won’t have to log in again.  Added bonus! I upgraded the security!

So, no new features to report today, but they are on the way.  I’ve had a really good suggestion for the new Projects page, and I’m excited about bringing you more features.  More updates, coming soon!

Edit: I’m aware that the latest update has broken a few things.  I’ll figure out what’s going on as soon as I can, but I won’t be at my computer for a few hours.  Please bear with me just a little and we’ll be back to normal soon.

Edit, the second: Just pushed out another update that should fix the bug.  Let me know in the comments, twitter or facebook if you notice anything else I need to attend to. Thanks for your patience!


WordKeeperAlpha Update – August 2015

Oif. I promised an update a week ago, but then life happened.  Life happened all over me.  Long story short, we’re buying a house! Woo! Yay! Huzzah! Really, both Katie and me are super excited and we can’t wait to get the move over with and start making the place our own, but its going to be a lot of work.  Unfortunately, my work on WordKeeperAlpha is going to take a little hit while we’re in the process of packing up all our stuff, cleaning, moving, so on and so forth.

It won’t take too much of a hit though.  I’ve been doing some really exciting work on the Goals and Projects lately.  I know, I know.  Didn’t I just get done revamping the Goals? Well, yes.  And aren’t they displaying a lot better now?  What I’m doing now will give you much more control over your goals, and give you more information.  Here’s a sample:

 

Screen shot of the new goals page The new sexy

 

Some people will go “Whoa! That looks cool!” while I’m sure other people are thinking “So what? How does that help me?”  First off, the keen eye will observe the goal graph on the right side.  This is the graph that you will be able to display on the home page, and eventually your author page.  You will be able to choose what graphs you display on your home page (to a certain point) which has been a major request.

Also, this page is being built completely in Angular.  What’s that mean? It means that the whole thing is going to load faster, AND required a new backend be built to support it.  That new backend is going to be used for a whole slew of new things, including blog support, writing groups and plenty of other nifty features.

The next update isn’t coming for a while yet.  It’s going to be pretty big, though, so very worth the wait, at least in my opinion.  Lets break down the features that are coming (hopefully) before NaNoWriMo kicks off in November.

  • New Goal page, featuring new stats, graphing and increased performance.
  • New Projects page, featuring more stats, graphing and increased performance.
  • Updated About page, featuring easier navigation to find the information that you need faster.
  • Updated Home page. Maybe featuring Angular for increased performance, custom graphs, word logs now editable from here.
  • Full API support. Want your WordKeeperAlpha goals and projects on your blog sidebar? This is the first step.

After all that is done, the next big update will be Social! My plans for social are coming together and will include:

  • An Author page, featuring goal and project progress.
  • Friends! Everyone needs friends and wants to see updates.
  • Writing Groups!  Share goals!
  • Events! I don’t know how this will work yet, but they will be short term little contests to get people writing as much as they can in a short amount of time.

WordKeeperAlpha is going to keep growing, keep getting better and its going to be because of you awesome people.  Are there more features that you want to see?  Leave a comment here, or give me a shout out on Twitter or Facebook.

Would you like to support WordKeeperAlpha?  Consider telling your writer friends about it.  Spread the word and get more people participating!  I’ve seen some really awesome growth over the past year and it makes me just want to push it more and make it even more awesome.  Anything helps: give me a shout out on Twitter or Facebook.  Write a blog post!  Send me your ideas / comments / complaints.  Social isn’t here yet, but we can still all get to know each other.  Has WordKeeperAlpha helped you finish your novel or story?  Let me know, I’d love to hear what you found the most useful.

Thanks for using WordKeeperAlpha!  I’ll keep you updated as to the status of the next update.


WordKeeperAlpha – July Update (Comments requested)

Happy ‘Murica day, folks! Hope that you went out and blowed some stuff up last night, drank some tasty drinks, ate some meat what was cooked on a grill. June was something of a slow month on WordKeeperAlpha when it comes to updates.  I was kept pretty busy with a certain troublemaker, pictured below, my anniversary and various other things.  Oh, yeah.  And writing.  Can’t forget about writing.

Pixel Trouble Swanson Pixel Trouble Swanson

July, however, is going to be a much bigger month.  I got to finally dig into things again today and set about updating files on the site that were falling behind.  Updated my version of bootstrap, and the theme that uses it, along with all the javascipt it relies on.  Sadly, that took a while, but I am working on some big new features.  Here’s what’s coming this month: (hopefully)

Addressing one of the biggest requests that I’ve gotten from you fine people, I’m going to be doing a major revamp of the Goal and Project pages.  I’m going to be separating them into separate pages and adding a host of new features to each one.  Among those features, is going to be choosing what Goal and Project graphs show up on you Home page.

On the Goals page I’m going to be adding statistics, such as: your words per day on a goal, the words per day you need to succed, stats on recurring goals (maybe) along with graphs for every goal, which you’ll be able to mark as favorites to show up on your home page.

The Projects page will include all the statistics that you see on the current incarnation of Projects, but include some more helpful stats.  I’ll also be adding graphs to each Project that you’ll be able to mark as favorites and add them to your home page.

Until I have some screen shots to show you what I’m working up, you’ll just have to trust me that you’re going to like it.  Other things that I’m thinking about, but not actively working on:

  • That thrice damned error that keeps the ‘Remember me’ button from working correctly on login.  I’ve spent hours and hours on this and as near as I can tell, I’m doing everything right but it just won’t stick! URG!!
  • Finishing the API, making a WordPress plugin that uses it.  WIll let you put your Goal and Project Progress up on your blog or website.
  • Author pages, the beginning of WordKeeperAlpha social.
  • Writing Sprints – more social stuff.
  • Writing groups – even MORE social stuff.

Those are the things that are on my plate right now.  That and one other thing.  Its been suggested to me a few times that I should do something to make some money off of WordKeeperAlpha.  My vision for it has always been to keep it completely free, and ad free, maybe put up a donation page or start a Patreon.  Buuuuuut, there’s always the possibility that if enough people were using WordKeeperAlpha, I’d be able to make enough money with it to make it my full time job, OR make it my part time job and writing my full time job (if I can make some money writing too…which I still need to finish a book for).  Still, I’ve promised that WordKeeperAlpha would always be free, and I’m willing to stick to that.  In fact, I refuse to charge for the core features that I’ve already developed.

My question is, and I’d really love some feedback here, what would you, my users prefer?  If I started a Patreon and a tip jar, would you donate or participate in the Patreon, were I to keep all features free forever?  What if I supplemented that with some light to moderate ads?  I know nobody likes ads, but they might be needed when I need to move WordKeeper off of shared hosting and to a dedicated server somewhere.  That sort of support doesn’t come free.  I know, I’ve been investigating it.  Another option is having some kind of “Prime” membership where everyone gets the basic features for free, but maybe API support and some of the more advanced social options or other features require a monthly membership?  I’m really not sure, so I thought I would ask for some of your opinions.  What do you think I should do?  When the time comes, that is.  This is probably a year or more down the road.  Rest assured, I will not be taking anything away from my existing and wonderful users, but these are things I have to think about.

However, if you’re looking for a way to support me now, consider giving WordKeeperAlpha a shout out to your writer friends on Twitter, or following me on Facebook, maybe write a blog post about your own experience?  All of these would help me find some more users, and drive me to pay more attention to coding and less to video games.  I’m not saying that new features are dependent on you guys helping me out, but there WAS just that big Steam sale.  Just sayin’.