New feature release: Exporting your novel

As any of you who have been following our journey over the last two years know, we build what our writers need. Mostly that consists of asking you to tell us which are the most important features to you in a novel-writing software, and as we get funding, building them. The next of those features is now yours. Exporting your novel into various formats, is here.

We have pushed code to the site that adds the option to export your novel as .docx (Microsoft Word, but also compatible with google docs), .pdf (not editable so good for sharing or getting a copy once your work is finished) and .odt which is an OpenDocument Format making it compatible with many word processors. You can export your novel from your “settings menu”.

Novlr-export2

This is the first release of exporting and as such has a couple of limitations which we could use your help with. Exporting also has a roadmap of additional pie-in-the-sky features we want to add when we get there. With most features that we release, like exporting, we will build them so that they work well, continue with other features and then come back round to them to improve them.Buy East Inflatables

Things we need your help to achieve

Special characters in .pdf

Turns out there aren’t that many great html->pdf libraries on the internet. Well, we are using jspdf which was the best we tested. If you help us dig out any issues, our work with it for Novlr is almost certainly going to improve it :) We then get the privilege of giving that back to the development community so that others can use the improvements for free.

The .pdf format produced has some limitations with converting special characters, for example, the true ellipses character (…), the double quotes that look like 66 and 99 and em dash (—). We convert these into their supported equivalents (ie, change curly double quotes into straight ones – “). We have done this for many characters but it is likely some have been missed – particularly accented or foreign letters. If you export your words and find special characters being stripped out, please let us know and we will add it to the exceptions list with an alternative supported character.

Support for .odt format

We export to 1.2 version of the .odt format so it will not work in older processors. It works in up-to-date processors and Google Drive for example. (with more funding we may backdate this functionality to older versions).

Future of exporting

We can’t continue improving Novlr without you. You can help by: telling every writer you know about Novlr; becoming a lifetime hero and making our year; or signing up to Novlr when we have the full product in autumn ($10/month subscription). If you help us grow and fund this, these are the things we want to be able to do with exporting:

  • Make pdfs look nicer, more book-y and with page numbers;
  • Auto-sync to Dropbox;
  • Auto-sync to Google Drive;
  • Publish to .epub.

Thank you

Novlr is still free and will be until we feel there are enough core features to release it as a full product. We are hoping that will be in Autumn. In the meantime we rely on lifetime heroes. Here are the incredible people who not only believe in us and what we’re doing but have put their money down to prove it and helped fund this feature by becoming a lifetime hero:

Charity Thomas · Brad Haakenson · Paul Swann · Benjamin Randall · Jo Hatcher · Rachel Moore  · Anonymous Funder

Offline writing is here!

Offline writing is here! You told us you wanted it, so we built it. Your votes on our features poll made it clear what is most important to you: being able to carry on writing when not connected to the internet. We all write in lots of different places and for the cafes with bad wifi, the trains, the in-between-times, we need to be able to do so without worrying about our connection. So, with the help of 40 lifetime heroes, we have spent the last month making it happen. And today it went live.

A guide to Novlr offline

Things you can now do:

  • Carry on writing when you lose internet: if your connection drops, you will see a little offline symbol appear in the header and the saved status bottom right will say “offline: saved locally”. This means that we have saved your work to your browser. When you get a connection again, it will automatically come back online, save everything and let you know.
  • Write offline, close tabs and come back to it later: We’ve even done it so that you can close the tab. Close the whole browser. Heck, shut down your entire computer if you like. And then come back to it and carry on where you left off, either offline or online.
  • Write in two or three, or ten places at once: You can now write online in lots of different places and your work will keep up to date as you open new tabs and devices to continue where you left off.
  • Load up, not have a connection and access the app anyway: So long as you are logged in and have visited the app before, you don’t need a connection to load up. So you can go to the cafe, never have a connection, load up, write and then go online to sync it when you get back.
  • Fixing when you accidentally get two versions on the go: If, by mistake, you write offline, then continue elsewhere online before returning to your other-device offline version and writing again, then next time you go online with that one you will have two different versions of a chapter. In this scenario, when you go back online you will need to either get the newer words or keep the ones in the current editor. There is no getting around this if you write in two separate threads in the same chapter, one offline and one online – we’ve done what we can to limit any damage. The best way to avoid this is to always sync after writing offline before writing online in another device elsewhere.

Which is pretty neat. As always, you can give us feedback or report a bug using our reporting system from the app or by emailing us at [email protected]

Limitations

If you are offline, clearing the cache will clear all locally stored data, like saved passwords etc., including Novlr data – so your offline saved words. Don’t clear the cache before going back online and make sure your work is saved to live (the offline symbol disappears and you get a message “you are back online and all your words have been saved”) before clearing. The other thing is. Offline should be a temporary solution not a way of life. If your computer breaks and you never get to go back on it, those words are lost (Just like the olden days of offline writing tools). When Novlr is online we are saving every word and triple backing up every 5 minutes. Offline, it’s just you and your browser against the world.

Massive thanks

This has been made possible by the foresight, generosity and general brilliant-ness of our lifetime heroes who have paid for lifetime Novlr. Thirty seven of those people helped fund this release. We also had 14 supporters become alpha testers for us to slam the doors and kick the tyres before we let you all take it for a drive. If you see these people on the street, shake their hand. Tell everyone you meet of their vision and intellect. Hold them in the highest regard. Thank you.

Lifetime Heroes that funded this release

Ellie Dawes · Jennifer O’Gorman · Valentina Bertani · Tina Kirby · Akane Vallery Uchida · Jessica Waters · Brendan Stallard · Amy F · Alun Salt· Paul Valentine · Jason Crimp · Rachel Marsh · Edward Kane · Lauren Simonis · Margaret Montgomery · Daniel Caughill · CM Weller · Emma Barnes · Cody Goodson · Angel Belsey · Ben Owens · Amanda Cooke · Jake Carni · Rachel Moore · Craig Roberts · Nik Ranieri · Barry Cooper · Angela Cairns· Kay Buchan · Petra Cechova · Miriam Ahamat · Ricky Wilks · Opal Mattila · Jarrod Kimber · Suzanne Buissink · Rebecca Short · Sutako
If you would like to fund the next release and become a Lifetime Hero, make our day and become a hero now.

Alpha Testers that meant this was able to go live

Rebecca Short · Daniel Caughill · Lisa Bellini · Brendan Stallard · Ashley Leath · Rosie McFaul · kpiazza · Marie Hogebrandt · Amanda Cooke · Iamveryfar · Ricky Wilks · Valentina Bertani · Anj Cairns · Barry Cooper · Jarrad Kimber

Novlr NOT down – hosting issues FIXED

EDIT: Hi all. The issues below have been solved. We’ve moved hosts which will allow us to monitor the servers better. It’s also substantially cheaper – which is good – lets us focus our limited money where it matters – on getting Offline Writing to you as soon as possible.

 

 

Dear Novlrists

We are so sorry about the current Novlr beta outage. Firstly – and the most important thing – is that your words are safe. Nothing has happened to them. They are not lost.

We are working on the problem and we hope to be back up as soon as we possibly can. It may take us longer than we initially thought. I don’t want to put an estimate on when we’ll be back but as soon as we can be. It won’t be tonight (UK time). Again, we’re really sorry.

I can assure you that we don’t want this to happen again and will do whatever we can to get the site back up quickly – but we’d prefer to get it back up robustly so that takes a little longer.

Thank you in advance for your patience and support.

Your Novlr team.

Bugfix update, NaNoWriMo, NaNoDiNo, Uganda, Lifetime Novlr and more

Hi all

Here’s our latest video update. It’s mammoth – 3 whole minutes long. We realise that watching all of this is more than we should ask of anyone, but we are covering a lot of topics:

  • #NaNoWriMo
  • #NaNoDiNo
  • Bugfix updates
  • Our trip to Uganda and Kenya
  • Lifetime Novlr heroes
  • ramblings

 

Kim’s fundraising page: https://kopafrica.believe.in/fundraising/im-cycling-450km-from-kampala-in-uganda-to-kisumu-in-kenya-across-pot-holed-dirt-tracks/

#NaNoDiNo: Word count dinostauries for #NaNoWriMo

It’s been just over a week of November and the word counts are starting to rise. So this week saw some of Novlr’s followers and many others start to share their pride in their achievements in the form of a dinosaur – what other way could there be. At point of posting there have been 23 #NaNoDiNos but I reckon this is just the beginning. Keep them coming!

And so it began with Jonny Blyth’s creative doodlings:


We liked this so much we wanted to see more:

and you didn’t disappoint. We’ve had amazing #NaNoDiNos so far!

 

Letting the whole world in for NaNoWriMo

Thanks to our incredible closed beta testers, we’ve reached a pretty special moment – we’re ready to open beta up.

SIGN UP TO BETA

From today anyone will be able to register on the website directly without having to wait for an invite. We think we’ve ironed out enough of the bugs to take on a bit more scale and with around 30 people asking for invites a day we’re excited to see how many people we can get on the beta this NaNoWriMo.

Spread the word

Do please share this news – because with NaNoWriMo just a few days away we want as many people as possible to know they can write their novel in Novlr. The more people using Novlr then the more bugs are found, and the quicker we can get on to releasing new functionality for you all.

Tweet to the world

Facebook it to the people you love

Remember – we are still in beta

Although the beta is now open, Novlr is still not in a full release. So while many bugs have been squashed there are still lots of features we want to add. So make sure you tell us what you need and report any bugs you find.

 

MASSIVE WORLD-CHANGING FUNCTIONALITY RELEASED TO NOVLR

We’ve added…wait for it.

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UNDERLINING!!!

giphy

Ok, so maybe not world-changing. However, one of the most common bits of feedback from you guys is ‘we love the simplicity and having only necessary formatting does decrease distractions…but underlining is sort of a must’. So we listened. And have added it.

We think underlining is useful. We are now considering whether strikethrough is. Does anyone use it? Is it just another thing to play with? Should we get rid? let us know your thoughts in the comments below

 

Internet connection bug

We’ve had quite a few reports of people getting the “lost internet connection” alert when their connection is fine. This is a tough one to replicate as it seems sporadic and we can’t tell if those reported had good internet connection or not but we *think* we’ve made some progress.

We show that alert when Novlr tries to save and can’t reach the database (which happens when you lose connection) and considered that it may not be able to reach the database for other reasons and therefore show the message unnecessarily. So, that’s where we are focusing right now and we have just pushed a change live that increases the number of connections allowed to the database. This would fix the issue if the reason it wasn’t able to save was because there were too many connections and it was getting a “503” error.

We don’t know for sure if this will fix the issue but it seems sensible and we are relying on you to tell us if it’s worked! Since it is sporadic and not replicable, we sit, and wait :)

The next step: time to make Novlr happen

Step 1: Beta
Good job beta testers. You’ve found a fair few bugs, and have helped polish Novlr. We’re now in open beta for anyone to try Novlr.

Step 2: Full release
You helped us take our first step and now we would love you to be part of the next step. We want Novlr to be ready for NaNoWriMo 2014 with the features you’ve told us are the most importantinflatable water slide:

  • Offline writing
  • Exporting your work
  • More than one novel
  • Character profiles
  • Notes
  • Tagging

To do this, we need your help. We’ve set up a Kickstarter to help us get the funding we need. In return we’re offering at least 50% off Novlr as well as lots of other exciting things

img-kickstarter

 

Thanks for all your support up to now. It has been a whirlwind journey and we would be nowhere without the help of people like you.East Inflatables

Why we’re pleased with Novlr beta

You’ll spend hundreds of hours – scratch that – hundreds of days writing your novel. So, our goal was to build a platform that feels good to write into. With our beta, we’re pleased to say, we think we’ve done that.

We went through a bit of an epiphany with the beta a month or so ago. We were more or less ready to get it out to you. We’d been trying it, and it did everything we wanted it to do – but it just wasn’t quite good enough – it didn’t feel right. So we went back to the drawing board, sat down with our designer and looked at how we could make it richer, make it feel like we knew Novlr should feel. It was a painful choice, but we’re so glad we did because we’re really proud of how Novlr now feels.

By design, it isn’t overloaded with features. We were aiming for simplicity and a good writing experience. Now we will turn our attention to adding the features you most need before we reach full release (much more to come on this).

We hope you like it. We hope it feels like a place you could write your novel.

 

PS: I know this isn’t a novel – but I wrote it in Novlr – and it felt good.