Category Archives: Software

StoryBox Early Adopter

Check out Yes, it’s a little plain (understatement of the year), but you can now download a very early version of StoryBox. It’s got all the major features I want in it for the first version, except for export to rtf, and support for image type documents. Lots of minor features are still missing, though, but in my very biased opinion, it’s at least usable.

Please, try it out, tell me what you think.

Oh, and what the heck do I mean by “Early Adopter”? Well, if you like it a lot, you can buy it now for $25, which is at least a $15 savings over what I will be selling it for when I call version 1.0 done.

StoryBox Weekly #4

This week has been a little slower, though still productive. I’ve had a lot going on with the paying gig, and that takes precedence, unfortunately. I alos received notice that my host was shutting down my server, so I’ve had to quickly move everything to a new host. This included recoding some of the Laughing Dragon Games site to use MySql instead of Microsoft SQL Server.

Progress on StoryBox, though included a new home at It’s not linked because it’s just a placeholder at the moment.

I added a single level outliner, so if you don’t like working with index cards, you can work in the outline. It will become multi-level eventually, but I wanted the basic feature in so I can start getting some feedback.

Project wide search went in this week, also. Eventually, I will add options for only searching document bodies, synopsis, notes or tags separately or in any combination, and the option to search in any particular set of documents.

One other last change was to swap out the ribbon bar for a regular menu and toolbars. Why? Well, it turns out if you want to use that ribbon bar UI, you have to get a license from Microsoft, and then follow a bunch of guidelines. You also can’t use it on anything that directly competes with any of the Microsoft Office products, including Word. I do not know if they would consider StoryBox as a direct competitor to Word, and since I’m in a hurry to release this thing, I don’t want to go any further with the ribbon bar only to find out later that I can’t use it at all, even if I did want to follow all their technical requirements.

I’m on target, I think, for an October 1 pre-release release. What that means, is that you’ll be able to buy it early for quite a bit less than what I’ll be asking once I tag it with Version 1.0. I haven’t settled on exact final numbers yet, but the pre-release will be right around $25. Once version 1.0 rolls around, it will be significantly more.

So what’s the plan for this week? Mostly tightening up the features that are already in and working on the website.

StoryBox Weekly #3

Yeah, the title says it all. From here on out, I’m going to try to give you a weekly update on StoryBox. Once I can come up with the money to license certain components I’m using, I’ll have this thing up for early sale.

So, what went in this week? Lots of little changes.

I’ve added Character, Location, and Item nodes and put them at the same level in the binder as the Story and Box of Notes. They are now primary containers for the appropriate document types. I’ve also added a context menu to the binder tree that will allow you to create new items, which are dependent upon which item in the tree you’ve selected.

I’ve added blacking out additional screens to the full screen mode for those of you that, like me, have multiple monitors. You can also now change the background color, the paper color, and the font color of full screen mode.

I’ve fixed a bunch of bugs, added a splash screen, made it store the rich text instead of plain text so you can now use bold, italics, and underlines in your text. There are now cut, copy, and paste buttons and context menu items.

I keep trying to use it to start working on this novel I want to write, but every time I sit down to do it, I find some niggling little thing I want to fix first, which ends up in a couple hours spent working on StoryBox instead of my book.

StoryBox Update #2

Today, in a way, is sort of a big milestone in the brand new life of StoryBox. All of the basic features are in and working. You can write a novel in it, start to finish, using the Storyboard (I’m probably using the term incorrectly here) to outline your scenes, and then using the rest of it to write. You can move scenes around, mark the various stages of completion, and even export the manuscript out to a text file.

What’s left are all the tedious things that turn a potentially good piece of software into a great piece of software. Search, crosslinks, context menus and usability features, and a host of other things that I hope will make it one of the best apps in it’s class.

In the screenshot below, you can see a few things, like the dockable multi document interface, the fact that the colors are different (themes!), Session and Project word count goals. The little scrollbar below each document window lets you zoom the text. All the side windows can be placed wherever you want, and set to auto-hide. I’ve tried to keep the UI flexible enough so that you can work the way you want to work.


StoryBox Update #1

I’m probably going to do these every couple of days for awhile, “these” being updates on StoryBox, as I just have to tell someone about it (someone besides Wendy – I bore her to tears with my chattering about my current projects sometimes), so you get to receive the end result of my constant need to chatter.

Over the weekend, I added mostly necessary features. You can now import from a text file (meaning you can get your current WIP into StoryBox) and export out to a textfile (meaning you can get your work OUT of StoryBox). End to end, you could actually use it to produce a project now. I added a “Help” button, window position persistance which means you can close or hide any of the information windows and it will remember where they were after restarting the app. There’s a way to toggle multiple documents on and off, so if you don’t like a bunch of tabs across the top of your window, you don’t have to have them. There are now Session and Project word count goals and progress bars. You can watch them grow while you type, which is pretty cool.

I still need to hook up a couple other interface elements, and there are a couple of different views that need to be implemented, but I’m pretty pleased with the progress. I can’t guarantee a time frame, as I still have to do other work, but if progress continues to be steady, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a pre-sale sooner rather than later.


In my “copious” spare time, I’ve been working on this little app designed for writers of novels. It’s more than loosely based on Scrivener, which I’ve come to love, and would use without spending the time to write my own were it not for one thing. Scrivener is only available on OS X. Yes, I have OS X, but it’s only on one machine, a MacBook Pro (which I love), and I can’t use it on any of my others like my desktop with the nice keyboard and comfy chair, or my tiny little Toshiba Netbook.

I tried out several other programs on the PC, none of which were for me. Liquid Binder is nice looking, but convoluted and not really suited to the way I want to work. yWriter seems OK, but it’s not oriented around the manuscript that you are writing. The manuscript window has no more importance than any of the other tabs, and it sits at the bottom of the window and is uncomfortable to work in. The other software I’ve found has also been unsuitable, for other reasons – restrictive workflow, clunky interfaces, and just plain ugly.

So, I started work on StoryBox, and I’ve been far too obsessed with it for my own good. At some point, I will make StoryBox available to the rest of the world at a fair price. I would be tempted to make it “donation” ware so that I’m not enjoined to update it all the time, but for the fact that, in order to make it behave the way I wanted and to have certain up to date UI features, I’ve had to purchase some third party components, and they’re not cheap, and I’m not likely to use them for any other project.

I have NO idea how many people are looking for this product, though I know there are at least a few. I’m mostly making this for me, and I’m not trying to clone Scrivener exactly. Scrivener just happens to have a workflow, or at least, allows a workflow, that is very close to the way I want to write, and I’m really just building StoryBox so that it allows my workflow.

I hope to have a beta before NaNoWriMo in November, but we’ll see how that goes. Right now, you can enter text into it, you can import an existing novel if it’s in plain text format (with some basic tags for chapter and scene breaks), but you can’t get text back out of it. 🙂 It’s got a full screen edit mode, and a synopsis and notes for each document. It counts words as your typing, but it doesn’t yet keep track of words across the whole project. There’s lots of work left to do.

Storybox Screenshot