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.