Saturday, July 10, 2010


WriteFlow is a word processor based on a database. It's only for the Mac, and it's in Beta. I cannot try it out because I don't have a Mac, and I will not buy one just for this program. But the idea is intriguing: "There are key advantages in using a database over a simple file based editor, as Microsoft Word or literally every other word processor out there are. Just to single out a few, we’d like to name metadata, identity and searchability as such advantages. We met people who used local installations of WordPress just to be able to use those features of a database."[1]

On the other hand, as they also point out: while writing in a database may seem like an odd thing to do ... it is something that is happening every day and all the time, because every blog, every content management system of any website, every forum on the web is nothing else."

In fact, it's what I already do regularly because ConnectedText is also based on a database. It appears that the difference between WriteFlow and a typical Wiki will be that it has WYSIWYG formatting.[2] It also has footnotes and quotes management, though bibliographies are a bit more work and have to be done manually.

They say that "WriteFlocw would rock your world." I guess it wouldn't rock mine. Still, it's an interesting way to think about the future of word processing and one might wonder why this approach has not caught the attention of major players in that areas. It would represent a real step forward and give users some real benefits—not like absolutely useless "ribbon."

1. There is a video describing the bibliographical and footnote here. It might have been good, if it also contained information on the more mundane word processing functions.

2. I disagree, therefore, when they also claim in their blog that "nobody has every [sic] tried to do what we did with WriteFlow, we had (and still have) to reinvent a lot of very basic stuff." (The company seems to be German.)


MangMade said...

Thank you so much for the leg work you perform in looking at note taking software. It's been fun and educational following the blog.

I'm one of those folks who use a local Wordpress blog for the reasons they cite as well. It's not nearly my ideal, but meets my objectives for now. I've been following your blog hoping to find a replacement system/app. I love seeing what you have found even though I put a premium on quick image pasting into notes as well. Nonetheless, you have brought some interesting apps to my attention that I would have missed otherwise.

My self-imposed needs are that the notekeeper must:

1. Be free
2. Be portable (not picky about such things as stealth, etc. so long as all data and settings stay in a movable directory)
3. Have ability to cut and paste screen clippings along with typed text in the editor window
4. Have automatic date stamping
5. Have tagging
6. Have simple ability to cut and paste ALL images and text FROM the note in a single operation (I've been shocked to find this lacking in more a than couple products. I would most likely be using Keynote or TreeDBNote today if they could perform this function)
7. Have keyword search
8. Support WSYIWYG hypertext
9. Be Windows based (Linux under WINE capable even better)

A pleasing interface is a bonus!

Evernote, despite some acceptable quirks, had met these objectives (and included the bonus of automatic sync to the web) until the .NET version came out and they blew away the portablity.

Since then I've been using Wordpress on a portable webserver (Uniserver) and Zoundry Raven, a portable blog editor. In fact, I could probably get away from the whole webserver and Wordpress if Raven had keyword search rather than only a title filter.

The solution is slow, but the best fit I've found so far. That is, until I see something you've found here that knocks me out. Thanks again!

MK said...

Thanks for sharing this.

brownstudy said...

A similar database type approach I used years ago under Windows was Yeah Write, founded by some ex-Wordperfect employees. I haven't used it since the mid- to late-90s, so am surprised and a little pleased to see it's still hanging on. It's available at

I did not see the word "database" in its About page, instead it emphasized "fill in the blank" documents. I think this is probably a good move for selling the idea of an alternative document processor to the technically less-literate mainstream, and the price is certainly mainstream.

MK said...

Thanks for the hint. I actually used Yeah Write for a while. If I remember correctly, I got away from it because of its file format (and the lack of development). Never thought of it as a word processor based on a database. But it makes a lot of sense.

MK said...

I re-installed Yeah Write (64 bit version, which is a bit of a misnomer as it is the 32 bit version without the installer). No footnotes either.

It does not seem to be based on a database. The Drawers are actually just folders with documents. It's at best a flat file database.

I was wrong about export. It exports to rtf, txt and WordPerfect 5.1. and some others. Import is the same.