On minimalistic text editors

I think I already mentioned that I’m quite fond of minimalistic UI’s and texteditors with an undisturbing interface.
Recently I stumbled upon FocusWriter (http://gottcode.org/focuswriter/), which is now by far my favorite app for writing. It’s awesome how nice it is to work with such a tool which eleminates all distraction.
I only wish all KDE applications would have such a mode, where fullscreen really means fullscreen. Imagine how awesome this would be in KMail or even better, KDevelop. Especially KDevelop is, while an awesome IDE, just way to cluttered so far. Maybe the Kate devs eventually get around to implement a real fullscreen mode =)

Until then I’ll stick to copy paste from FocusWriter, or to what I created for Zanshin.


Author: cmollekopf

Christian Mollekopf is an open source software enthusiast with a special interest in personal organization tools. He started to contribute actively to KDE in 2008 and currently works for Kolab Systems leading the development for the next generation desktop client.

23 thoughts on “On minimalistic text editors”

  1. Since I started using a netbook, I have also become a great fan of simple, uncluttered interfaces. I find that there is a lot one can do, most KDE apps are flexible and lets you configure the interface. It is possible to hide the toolbars and most sidebars, and using qtcurve you can even hide the menu- and statusbar in any app. Of course it is preferable if the application developers builds the simplicity into the application, considering new ways to make functionality available. Experimenting with the possibilities we have can help exploring what works well in the meantime 🙂

    1. Yes, you already get quite far with some configuration.
      But a dedicated “focus mode”, which gives you only a single text-field would be a whole new level of unclutteredness. It can achieve this by just not providing much more than the text editor, so it’s more a mode of the texteditor part than the UI of the application.

    1. Vim in a virtual terminal. Minimalist, powerful, AND fullscreen. Plus it’s a tiling (and in a literal way stacking) window manager in itself.

      1. vim (in konsole window?) is not minimal and it’s at most TUI not GUI. I would say minimal editor is one with minimal list of features and no insert/edit modes and yet still usable for focused work.

      2. I get your point, but I’ll never get around mastering vim. It’s what I use in the console, but I miss the mouse just too frequently =)
        Also I’d like to have that integrated into applications where vim definitely isn’t an option.

    2. Not vim, but emacs 🙂 I removed menu, tool and scroll bars and display only two lines at the bottom of the window.: the minibuffer (command input) and the mode-line (file name, column, line, vcs revision).
      Most of the day, I use that fullscreen without the windowmanager’s title bar, with three buffers side by side, and do the same with firefox.

  2. I’d like to hear some feedback on what exactly is cluttered in KDevelop. A clean UI is something we strive for, so if you have suggestions, don’t keep them for yourself!


    PS: please via one of our KDevelop mailing lists.

    1. You’re right, I should have put that differently. The default UI is awesome for and IDE, which naturally has a large amount of buttons/toolboxes, so I don’t want you to change that. What I’m saying is, while the “Hide/Restore Docks” option already does a pretty good job at giving me my screen estate back after a compile cycle, I’d love to have a “focus mode” which shows me only the currently active editor content on fullscreen.
      That would allow me to focus purely on what I’m doing, with no distractions at all.

      1. Marave is what I was going to suggest.
        I don’t see how you can say FocusWriter is minimalist once you’ve gotten to know Marave.
        On my machine it keeps my CPU running at 60% but it’s great nonetheless.

        1. I find that Marave has a lot more distracting elements than FocusWriter, although most of them can probably be removed by configuration. Anyhow, I don’t see how Marave is more minimalistic than FocusWriter, a white screen with my text on it is about as minimalistic as it gets =) Mind when I’m talking of minimalistic I’m talking of how the UI looks. I actually like if an app uses some OpenGL effects or alike and don’t really care about applications being “bloated” as long as they do their job.
          The CPU issue is definitely not normal and not anything I’ve seen.

      1. Thanks. It was less than 50 LOC 🙂
        Maybe with viper? 🙂
        Though I need the emacs-server for my work: the Gentoo ebuild emacs-daemon provides an init script to start emacs at boot, and that’s what I do to have an emacs (…client) which starts fast. Otherwise the startup time would be too long.

  3. You might also want to have a look at the Nitrogen window decoration, one of the most useful pieces of software I’ve ever used.
    It allows you to get rid of the window decoration and leaves you with nothing but a little grey square which allows you to move and close the window.
    I just love it and never miss a thing.

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