In these days of more, more and even more, isn’t it sometimes refreshing to have less and less and less? I refer to distractions. While you’re trying to concentrate on writing that next best–seller a million and one things are vying for your attention; Email notifications, Windows Updates, Tweets, FaceBook updates, BaseCamp notifications, whatever it might be, it wants you to read it right.this.instant.
This is where a full screen editor like Q10 comes in; turn off those notifications, disconnect the internet(!), fire up the app and relax a little… You now have a distraction free space to get some writing done. I used it to compose this article, should you give it a go too?
The best way to really get to know the good and bad points of a peice of software is to use it for something that you need to do. Not for taking short notes, making small edits or writing emails when you don’t have a connection, but to write a long piece and use it exclusively. So that is what I did. This whole article was written using Q10.
I can report that Q10 works very well for what it is intended. It did stop me getting distracted while I was writing this article and as such I finished it faster than I would normally have expected to do so. It’s not easily quantifiable, but I did notice that I spent less time flicking between different windows or noticing a game on my desktop that I suddenly /needed/ to play
One of the best features of Q10 is the way in which you can change so many of the settings to be exactly how you like them. At the most basic of levels you can change the visual settings such as the fonts for the main editor and the info bar, which can be set separately The colours of the background and the font can be set to allow you to choose a scheme that suits you, be that high contrast or low, black on white or white ob black. Alternatively you can set the background to black and the font to green and pretend you’re Neo!
On a more advanced level you can change the settings for the indents, line spacing, column width, margins, auto correction, auto save, backups and character encoding, to name but a few! The editor is thankfully character encoding agnostic: it does not mind whether the encoding is set to ANSI or to UTF-8 for example, and nor does it get into problems when presented with documents formatted with line endings from different systems. It would be nice if there was a way to save a number of themes for different moods or for different lighting conditions. To change the colours currently requires tinkering in the menu and setting them manually each time.
Time Saving Features
Nigh on everyone who uses a piece of software like this is likely to want to use shortcuts to increase their writing productivity. Hitting F1 pulls up the help overlay with a list of shortcuts. All of the standard editing ones such as copy and paste are supported. Other more interesting inclusions are toggling the info bar to go completely fullscreen, setting an alarm to sound after a certain amount of time and setting a target number of words that you are aiming for.
Autosave is programmed into the app so you can type away without having to worry about the loss of your work. It can be set to save every x minutes, or you can choose to have a save made at any arbitrary point in your writing such as each page, or each paragraph. Spell checking for a number of languages is also included, along with fully configurable and unlimited text auto–correction for correcting common mistakes or replacing text.
You can easily add a note to the document by placing “..” at the beginning of a paragraph. The notes are collated and shown in the notes list, which can be accessed by hitting ctrl-H. When you double click the note you are taken to it, so you can use these as bookmarks to navigate your larger documents too.
Simple and Fast
As the program is simple in its design and implementation, the resources that is uses on your PC really is negligible. I tested Q10 on a Pentium3 underclocked to 800Mhz and it was still super fast and responsive, if it runs well on that then it will run well on anything!
Q10 is a portable app, so it doesn’t need to be installed to run, which means that you can run it from a USB stick. The developer has added the feature that Q10 will remember the last edited file from the memory stick regardless of the drive letter that the memory stick is allocated on different computers.
What Could be Better?
Whilst this is described as a fullscreen editor it would be pretty neat if you could run it in a window if you wanted to. Being forced to use it as a fullscreen app can at times be counter productive, if you need to reference something in your writings for example, having to alt-tab out and back each time can become rather cumbersome. If you like to use the mouse and menus or toolbars to do everything then this might not be the app for you. Everything is accessible by hotkeys as opposed to a menu. There is only one really important one to remember though, F1 which pulls up all of the other shortcuts in an overlay.
Unfortunately Q10 doesn’t support Markdown syntax, in terms of having a markdown preview or syntax list. You can obviously use the syntax if you know it, but it will not make any visible change to the text in the editor. This is a shame as it seems to be becoming more ubiquitous of late.
At the beginning of the review I posed the question of whether you should give it a go too and I can say that the answer is definitely ‘yes’. As you will have read above, the reasons are many-fold, from the fact that it actually does help you be more productive to the fact that it’s free, so what have you got to lose?!
Are there other apps out there that do a similar job? Sure, the likes of WriteMonkey and FocusWriter are other full screen editors that do a similar job, check them out too, I think you’ll find it worth your while whichever you choose, but I’ll stick to Q10 for now.