As a blogger, I have been extensively using online writing software for the last 4 years. Although I have been using Simplenote until recently, I have always been looking for better alternatives. This review is about a new online software called TextDrop I recently found.
Before reviewing TextDrop, I need to share two most desirable features that I expect from good online writing software.
First, a seamless and fast synchronization with Dropbox.
Dropbox, a wonderful cloud service for file synchronization, is at the center of all my writing projects. All my blogs posts, memos, book plans are stored in Dropbox. therefore, any online writing software to be useful should have an ability to sync with folders of Dropbox.
Second, fullscreen mode for less distraction.
I am accustomed to using fullscreen mode on software like writeroom, iA writer, and Scrivener. A clean blank screen with no menus or other windows helps me to concentration on writing.
Among many web-based writing software, Simplenote has been my choice mainly because of its excellent sync with Dropbox. Now I have been using the software for more than 2 years.
However, Simplenote did not fully meet my requirements, namely the above-mentioned two features. Although it syncs with Dropbox, Simplenote can access only one Dropbox folder that you have to designate in its setting. As I have many text files across different folders of Dropbox, I am seriously limited in terms of choosing which files to work on when I use Simplenote. Also, it has no fullscreen mode. There simply is no way to hide the left pane that contains the list of documents.
So, I have been searching for online writing program that can offer both access to all Dropbox folders and fullscreen editing mode. And I found a solution in a brilliant softwaer called TextDrop.
Major features of TextDrop I find very useful are as follows.
First, it can access and sync with every folder of Dropbox.
The left pane of TextDrop sows a list of documents. You can move among top folders and sub folders easily because the lit just works like explorer of Windows or finder of Mac. Sync between TextDrop and Dropbox is fast and reliable. If there is uncertainty about which copy to use among TextDrop and Dropbox, the software asks you to make your choice, which is a very good way to prevent data loss.
Second, TextDrop has fullscreen editing mode.
Fullscreen mode of TextDrop is not good as those of distraction free writing software like Writeroom or Writemonkey. While these software mainly use black background and green fonts as default theme, TextDrop only offers while blank screen and black colored font. But it is still usable. You can hide the left pane by dragging it to the left to have a fullscreen editing mode.If you are using Windows, you can also hide all top menus by pressing F11 key of the browser.
Third, it has a simple design with minimal options.
Editing screen of TextDrop has no setting for changing or enlarging fonts. Actually, there is nothing to do with text formatting with this software. The only options available are sharing of documents using dropbox and publishing into a public folder of dropbox. In the past, this would have been considered as something incomplete for a program. However, these days, with many minimalist writing software like iA writer and OMM writer that have barely no options, this looks more like a better move made by the developer to prevent writer’s distraction. Incidentally, if you do need bigger fonts, You can have them by using built-in keystroke of your browser. In my case, I just enlarge the characters by using Control + Upward mouse scroll on my chrome browser.
Fourth, Texdrop has powerful search functions with Omnibar.
TextDrop uses Omnibar located on the top to create and retrieve files. What this omnibar does can be best explained by saying that it works just like upper bar in Notational velocity, the famous minimal text editor for Mac. If you type certain words, the list below shows documents that contains the very words. Creating a new document is easy. Type certain words and press Enter key then you have a new blank document.
Fifth, Realtime preview of markdown is available.
TextDrop supports realtime markdown preview. To the right of editing screen, you have another window. This is preview of markdown. Every markdown symbols are shown as formatted text in realtime. If you use Markdown often, this will be very useful.
Although TextDrop is a good software as it is now, there are some improvement I would like to see.
First, word count is needed. Word count is one of the most important features for writing software. Even minimalist software like iA writer has word count.
Second, additional themes for screen will be welcome. Editing screen could look better and be more useful if some themes are added such as black background and green fonts as used in other distraction free software.
Third, ability to make or delete folders is necessary. Currently, TextDrop can only create and delete documents. It can do nothing with folders.
While it lacks some functions, TextDrop is excellent in major tasks that web-based writing software is required to do such as fast cloud sync and easy writing. I highly recommend TextDrop for those who are looking for good online writing tool.