December 4, 2016

Winston the Typewriter Simulator - Gimmicky but Useful

Winston IconWinston Icon

Product: Winston
Price: Free

I like typewriter scrolling. Ulysses has the best approach to typewriter scrolling that I have come across in text editors. Using Winston reminded me that true typewriter scrolling is different from the way it is implemented in text editors.

Let me explain. In a text editor like Ulysses, the point of concentration is a line. The cursor moves across a line till it reaches the end of the line and then on the next line, the focus is on the same spot on the page, where we have a new line. Typewriters don't work like that. Typewriters focus on a spot. One spot. The paper moves along in the background letting you type on the same spot. The spot doesn't move. The paper does.

Winston the TypewriterWinston the Typewriter

I came across an application called Winston which is a text editor/typewriter simulator.

Winston PreferencesWinston Preferences

You get to customize some aspects of the experience:

  1. The paper you use
  2. The sounds
  3. The type
  4. Choose the animations that you want to see and turn off the ones you don't care for.
  5. Choose whether you want to auto wrap your text.
  6. Choose whether you can amend text or not.
  7. Show or hide the text cursor.

Winston gives you true typewriter scrolling. The focus is on one spot. The page moves behind the spot, like in a typewriter. It is an unique experience and I must say I like it. It is a gimmick. But it works for me. There is nothing else to the program. You get to save documents in its proprietary format and you get to export to a text file. There are some export options but they are meaningless. You are going to open the file in a text editor and deal with the text and the editing of the text there. So, you will not miss the lack of options on export.

How would I improve the product?

  1. Allow me the ability to add text by copy and paste. Copy and paste text into Winston and out of it.
  2. Fix the bugs.
  3. Support text expansion. Since you don't allow copy and paste, text expansions from Alfred or aText or TextExpander don't work.
  4. Support the text expansion from macOS. In macOS, two spacebar is equal to a period. I also get auto-capitalization in macOS. So, I can be sloppy and not worry about capitalizing the first letter in a new sentence. Makes the process of writing easier.

My suggestions are fringe use cases. The basic purpose of the product is typewriter simulation and it does a fantastic job of that. My suggestions are movements away from the typewriter simulation part of the product feature set. Might be a good thing to do but it will hurt the whole ethos of a typewriter. My only excuse is that this is a digital typewriter and probably can improve on an analog one.

Winston is recommended.

macosxguru at the gmail thingie

Writing macOS Typewriter

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