Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Try a simpler way to write. Quabel is an online text editor that stays out of your way and lets you focus.
The number of simple text-only, full-screen text editors that let you write without being distracted is kind of staggering, and all too often nothing sets these programs apart from one another. So what makes Quabel different?
It’s web-based, for one, and automatically backs up your work as you write. It lets you set goals based on wordcount or the time it would take to read out loud, and shows you a simple progress bar as you go. It color-codes any HTML you type, helping you avoid errors. And it lets you export your work to multiple file formats.
Head to Quabel and create a document. You’ll need to sign in to save, but you can use the site without doing so. Once you create a document you won’t see much other than a space for writing:
Simplicity is the idea. If you have an account your work will automatically be saved as you go, meaning you won’t lose data.
There’s a toolbar up top, which you can use to access the settings, and a wordcount below that also calculates the time it would take to read your document:
This is great if you’re writing a speech or need another way to think about the length of your article. You can adjust the math used to calculate this; more on that below.
Set your browser to fullscreen and you can quickly get to work. If you prefer white text on a black backdrop (I do), turn on night-time mode. This is much easier on the eyes, for me.
As I said before: there is no formatting. There is, however, code highlighting for HTML:
If you write for the Internet, and a freak like me, you might use HTML as you write to save time later. Code highlighting helps you avoid mistakes by showing you which tags are and aren’t closed properly.
Confused? You’ll see a tour when you first open the site; it will quickly show you where everything is.
Settings & Goals
You can tweak Quabel a little. Click the gear in the top toolbar and you’ll see your options:
There are two distinct document styles; choose the one you like best. This is entirely about personal preference. That window also allows you to tweak the math behind the reading and speaking time statistics in the wordcount toolbar.
You can also set your goals for a particular document:
A bar at the top will show you how close you are to reaching your desired goal, so set this as accurately as you can.
Exporting Your File
Do you want to use your file elsewhere? Just click the export option. You can choose between four formats: PDF, DOCx, ODF and plain text.
Emailing to yourself and printing are also an option.
Alternatively you can publish your document to the web. You’ll get a link for sharing with others, and any HTML you used while writing will format correctly.
You could use this preview function to test code as you’re writing, if you write with code (am I the only one who does that? Let me know in the comments).
Of course, there are some limitations. formatting is basically non-existant – this tool is entirely for writing. And while the basic version of Quabel will always be free you need the full version to save more than 5 documents at a time. As of this writing the full version costs $2 a month.
Focuswriter is kind of like this, only for the desktop. It runs on Linux, Mac and Windows alike. Alternatively you can check out this list of distraction-free text editors, which includes links to Windows, Mac and Linux clients.
Quabel is a great way to write, especially if you find full-featured word processors to be mostly distracting. I do.
But I want to know what you think. Would you consider using an online minimalist text editor? If not, is that because of the lack of features or a general dislike of web applications? Share your thoughts in the comments below!