WordKeeperAlpha Update: Where its been and where its going.

Its been a while since I posted anything specific on WordKeeperAlpha, so I thought I’d update everyone on exactly how its going and how far away 2.0 is.

During the course of development last week I noticed that I had ten more users than I had previously noted which is both encouraging and disappointing.  Encouraging because that’s easily twice the people than were previously signed up!  That’s awesome.  Discouraging because all of them are getting their first Impressions of WordKeeper from the ugly ass old version.  Lets take a second to compare.  This is the current main page:

 

Old Landing

This is what its going to look like as soon as I hit publish in a month or three:

New Home Page

This is what I have for graphing right now:

Old Graphing

Blech! Right?  It doesn’t even actually work.  I thought it worked for a little while, then around the time I was designing the new version I noticed that it never changed, never kept up… It was broken to the core.  WordKeeper 2.0 is going to start off with 4 graphs!  Not 2.  Not 3.  But 4!   They’re not powered by some crappy code that I just threw together, but powered by Highcharts, an awesome javascript graphing library that I’m acquiring at no small cost to myself.  I mean that… That shit is expensive, but you guys are worth it.  Here are the graphs you’ll see right at the beginning:

New Graph 1 Yearly Graph
Monthly Goal Graph

I’ve gone mildly crazy in the data generation for those bad boys, and you’ll be able to do a lot of neat things with them that you can’t see in a jpeg.  Enough of that though.  Next up is goals!  Goals is the section of the site that I’m currently working on and just got the initial code working for.  Here’s how the goals look right now:

Old Goals

This is the new hotness!

Goals and Projects

Yes, I used the word ‘hotness’.  Shut up.  I’m excited.   I’m still working on a few of the features for the new goals, but already they are much better than the old ones.  Soon, you’ll be able to update your other goals automatically, or individually (which is a huge pain.)   Once I have the bugs worked out of goals I’ll tackle Projects, which will be a beast all on its own.  You can see what to expect up above.

Unfortunately, I still have a ton of work left to do.  A lot of the code is working only in the sense that I know how to use it without breaking things, so there’s going to be a lot of debugging.

Now, for all of my current users, I have an important question.  I’m sick of the old version being online, generally being ugly and not up to my new standards.  What would you think if I put up version 2.0 in beta form BEFORE I get the Projects code done?  I’d essentially be turning you all into beta testers, but you’d honestly get a LOT more utility out of it, even if I were to put it up now.  I’m certainly willing to work with you and set up projects for you behind the scenes (until the code works).  I’d ask that you report any errors that you find, but it would probably speed up development and final deployment a LOT…and it would get the eyesore that is WKA 1.0 off the internet.  I’d really like to know, so please, post a comment here if you have an opinion.

P.S. Sorry about any breakage that the current WKA is suffering.  Publishing the new version will help with that! 😉


Writing Weekend!

Yeah, so my last post was a little heavy handed. I'd apologize, but honestly I'd like to start doing some more posts like that. Things that are more than just status updates, posts about what I'm reading and writing. Every now and again, just talking about things like that seems like I'm taking the easy route. I should be taking advantage of this soap box and telling you all what I think about EVERYTHING! That would probably be a little more interesting than the status quo, right? That and more pictures. Maybe some kittens? People on the internet like kittens. Maybe I'll do a top ten list sometime. The internet also seems to like those.

What can I say? I'm willing to caper and dance for a few more hits to justify my existence.

That being said, I'm not doing any of that tonight. Tonight its a pure puff and status update. First off, I just got done reading Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. I wish I was half as good at weaving a story as that man. Ok, maybe I really wish I was just as good or better, but if I were half as good I'd still probably be three times the author I am now. If you haven't read Way of Kings, Words of Radiance or other Sanderson books, you really should. He's pretty much THE guy in Epic Fantasy. Of course, you'll also need to set aside a solid chunk of time, since when he sets about writing a book, his actual goal is to depopulate a forest with his mighty tomes. Words of Radiance clocked in at over a thousand pages and Way of Kings was longer (I think).

After I finished, I spent the next hour just lying in bed thinking about all the sh*t that happened in the last hundred pages and how big a deal it was, within the world. <spoiler>NIGHTBLOOD!!!1! OMG!</spoiler> That should be vague enough that I shouldn't anger anyone.

Work on WordKeeperAlpha continues. I think that I've finally got the main page squared away, save for a few details. The new graphing method works great and should be easily extendable to other graphs as I think them up or they're requested. I've decided to roll the Projects functionality into the Progress page, which lessens the pages I have to make by 1, but increases the difficulty of that page to finish. The good news is that once that's done, WordKeeperAlpha will pretty much be ready to replace the old one.

Thanks to the judicious use of vacation time and a federal holiday, I have a four day weekend starting tomorrow. I intend to use it to catch up on some of the writing that I've been neglecting over the past week. WordKeepers stats are telling me that I've been slacking off way too much, so my goal is to get my average words per day up to 500 by the end of the month. That means either a busy weekend or a busy end of the month. Or more! Either way, I intend to get a chunk or two of Impervious done.

Right now, I'm in one of my favoritest pubs, drinking a tasty cider and have gotten two different character profiles done since arriving. I love writing in pubs, but its a little more expensive than my normal Panera Bread haunt. I'll be moving there tomorrow to get things done. The only thing better than the pastries is free refills of iced tea.

I think that about covers the status update for this week. I have no idea when I'll get around to another meaty post again. Probably the next time that something ticks me off. I'm looking at you FCC.


WordKeeperAlpha 2.0 development continues

Some of you may be familiar with my little side project WordKeeperAlpha, but I'm not going to assume a whole lot. If not, its a tool I created, and am creating, for authors to keep track of their writing habits. One of the most important thing about writing books is, duh, writing, and doing that on a regular basis. The idea behind WordKeeper is that you will be able to see your writing habits graphed out over time, set goals and meet them. In theory, this will help you write more and get your story done quicker.

The first, and current version of WordKeeper is certainly a first effort, and handy enough for one of its original purposes: setting goals and seeing your progress along them. The graphing function is a complete hopeless cause using code that was largely aped from a tutorial and poorly done. The design is … well, designed by me, which is to say primary colors largely favoring blue and not much else. In other words, while I was pretty proud of it last year, this year I'm a little embarrassed by it.

Which is why I'm working on WordKeeperAlpha 2.0! This is pretty much a complete redesign of the original that I'm rebuilding from the ground up. I didn't really want to, but sometimes when something is broke you just have to replace it. Granted, I'm using a lot of lessons I learned from the first go around on 2.0, but I'm still having to redo pretty much everything.

This time around I'm using Twitter Bootstrap, which any designer will find blatantly obvious. I'm also incorporating several new bits and pieces, such as more jQuery, a different approach to security that actually lets me do the 'Remember Me' functionality, which is nice. Instead of just doing things, I'm focusing as much as I can on doing them right. Fast loading times, less load on the server and all the UI sense I can bring to bear. Like I said when I was making the original, I'm not a designer, but I try to get by and beg the forgiveness of my betters.

The charting part of WKA 2.0 will be handled by some software designed just for the purpose of charting, HighCharts, which makes the whole process much easier, and MUCH better looking. Currently I'm trying out a few different charting options, seeing what makes the most sense to include initially and what doesn't work so well. For example, the day by day chart is pretty good, but looks a little cramped in a full month view. A year by year chart will be needed eventually, but since I have all of 21 registered users, half of which are friends and family just checking it out (thanks Dad), isn't really needed. Five years down the road, it'll be a neat thing to look at.

Another big thing that I'm adding in 2.0 is Projects. While its nice to know that you wrote 1300 words yesterday, I think it will be handy to know what you wrote these words on. Are you blogging way more than you write on your books? Are you neglecting your blog by the numbers? You'll be able to see this reflected in the graphs and set word goals by projects and define sub-goals. It'll be pretty spiffy when its all done.

And there will finally be some Twitter and Facebook integration, and an 'author page' that you can share with friends and fans so that they can see your progress, what you're working on and maybe give you encouragement or berate you for taking the last week off to play XBox.

There's tons to do yet before I'm ready to take 2.0 live, but if you'd like to see an example click here. Once 2.0 is live, WKA should be ready for prime time and hopefully will start commanding a larger user base. The goal is for it not only to help ME be more productive in writing but also to make enough money to support my eventual writing career. We'll see if either of those things happen.

Longer term plans call for WKA 3.0, which will be professionally redesigned and have an even broader set of features, possibly even more social integration. That is years off though; a far off goal. Still, I'm really looking forward to showing all of you 2.0 when its ready to go live sometime much later in the year. There's a LOT of work left to do on it, and WKA is still a secondary goal to finishing Impervious (which I've been working on tonight). Tomorrow I'll update this with a few screen shots from the demo I have set up, just to add a little color to this wall of text. Now, its time to hit the sack. Later.

 


An end of year update – Merry Christmas!

Sorry I've been quiet since my mid-NaNoWriMo update. I'd like to say that I've been super busy getting stuff done and finishing up my project from November, but the truth is that I've been super-lazy. Granted, I have been doing some work on Edge of December, but I've mostly been screwing around catching and trianing my Pokemons. Delphox will totally kick your ass, so back off.

That being said, I'm back in the game. I've got a nice long break for the rest of the year and a little into next that I'm going to (hopefully) use to get some serious work done. December was supposed to be to finish up my NaNo project and kick WordKeeper V 2.0 out, so I'm hoping that I can still get at least one of those done. I also have the added goal of figuring out how to end out the current Arc of Edge of December. Granted, a lot of work for the few days I have, and not everything is going to get done, but I'm sure I can make some serious headway.

Most of my design work is done for the new version of WKA. All that's left is a few smaller pages and finishing the design of the social aspect. That, I don't know what I'm going to do with it. It might be a little bit of trial and error until I find something that works. Version 2.0 will be significantly more fully featured than the current generation, with a bit of social built in, some Twitter and Facebook integration, a nifty little tool that counts the words you've written and a much more advanced graphing utility to track your progress. Also, I'm integrating projects so that you'll be able to set goals per project and track them independently. Once I have it done, it will be a pretty awesome way to keep track of your writing trends and hopefully inspire you to write more.

Once December is over, I'm starting work back up on Impervious, with the goal of pushing right through the second draft, at which point I'll be looking for some Beta readers. While the beta reading is in progress, I'll finish out book 2, and maybe get a start on book 3.

Though I did spend a fair amount of time screwing around this year, I've actually written more than I ever have previously. According to WordKeeper I've written some 85,000 words since I started it at the start of the year, and had a few really good months before I got it up and running. I'm guessing that I wrote at least 100,000 words this year, which isn't bad at all! I finished up Impervious, split off Unstoppable from the vast expance that was the original draft, got started on the second draft of Impervious, got WordKeeperAlpha up and running, started on the second version of WKA, got a new blog up and running (though I need to keep it better updated), made several new writer friends online and finished NaNoWriMo again with a brand new story! None of this takes into account the awesome stuff that Glenn and I have been doing over at Edge of December where we Kickstarted our first book, and put out several eBooks. We're getting really close to finishing out the current Arc of the story, which is going to be HUGE!

Granted, that's not quite the goals I had set at the beginning of the year last year. I wanted to get a few more short stories written and submitted to various venues, and have closer to 125,000 words written, but I'm still really happy with everything I've gotten done! If I can keep up this pace, I'll have my first book done and available in 2014 with a second and third following close on its heels! That's super exciting and will serve to motivate me! There's going to be a lot of awesome stuff happening next year, so make sure to stay tuned. Hopefully I'll be a lot better at maintaining the blog and putting up some more articles that are more than just status updates between my long absences.

Here's wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, however you celebrate them. I should be putting out one more update before the new year with some updates on WKA, but if that doesn't happen then everyone have a good rest of the year!


I’ve been quiet lately … too quiet

I know, I've been bad about updating for the last few weeks. I have this awesome week where I do three whole posts, and then I disappear for the better part of a month. I'm a bad bad man. What was I doing? Who are you, my mom? Oh… well, sorry mom.

Long story short, I've been working on version 2.0 of WordKeeperAlpha. No, this won't be WordKeeperBeta. I have no intention of securing a new domain name just to keep things straight. Also, I won't ever be able to get the wordkeeper.com domain. Yeah, I have all of three users, including myself, but there are several things that needed to be fixed, and a few I wanted to add.

On top of the bug fixes and feature additions, I'm completely redesigning the UI using Twitter Bootstrap. I think I might just be in love with that framework. Seriously, go and check out WordKeeperAlpha.com/NewHome.aspx and see the difference. Its going to be a few months yet before I role out the new site (probobly not until the New Year, since I've got a job now and can only work on it a couple hours a night) but progress continues.

What does this mean for my writing and Impervious? Eh, its slowing down a little, but not too much since I've been so bad about writing recently. I am still going to take November off from all my other hobbies and pursuits and do National Novel Writing Month. I'll be doing my best to keep my blog, Twitter and Facebook updated with my progress there. I'll most likely be working on the third Book in the Iron Principles series, which will be a lot of fun. I'm going to be doing plotting in October, along with enough writing on Edge of December to carry me into December (shut up). Speaking of which, I should get back to that. I've a chapter to finish cleaning up. I hope you're reading! Enjoy!