For our internal Kisko Publishing Hackathon we wanted to build something to help authors both write and get support for their writing.
After some initial brainstorming about localized publishing, the difficulty of reading books online, the astonishing lack of ebooks in Finland and the lack of tools for helping writers write, we came up with two rough ideas to work on:
An obstructionless writing tool with constraints to encourage writers. “Write one page at a time” or something along those lines. “The Twitch.tv or Patreon of writing.” Something that brings writers both compensation and community through their fans.
Putting those ideas together we quickly got to work on a web app we decided to name Proosa, the Finnish word for “prose”.
Here’s what we managed to get done during the hackathon:
- An auto-saving writing tool built with ProseMirror, backed by Ruby on Rails and React.
- A writing experience with few obstructions: you don’t need to come up with a title, a filename or anything like that. We take the first line of text you’ve written and show it as the “title” of your writing.
- You also don’t need to start a folder, a book or a collection to group your writing: you just write pages. You can either write a new page or write one as a “reply” to another page, which groups them together. (This still needs work.)
- Writers can set pages to be public, private or only visible to their subscribers. Readers can subscribe to writers for free.
These things we ran out of time for, but would like to continue working on:
- A monthly payment for subscribing to writers.
- Letting subscribers communicate with the writer in some way: commenting on drafts, maybe fostering community with something similar to Twitch.tv’s chat.
- More constraints to writing: maybe a character limit per “page”?
- Improve and make more understandable the structure of writings. Are “pages” really a good metaphor or should we try something else? Either way, we need a better UI for navigating them.
- Better management for pages: moving them from one group to another, reordering them, and so on.
The alpha version of Proosa is available at http://proosa.herokuapp.com/.