Ommwriter Dana for Windows and Mac is the latest example of what’s become known as ‘distraction-free’ word processing. Instead of trying to compete feature-for-feature with market leaders like Microsoft Word (surely a lost cause anyway), these products strip away everything but the essentials, leaving you with a blank screen and the text you’re typing.
Dana takes this idea of empty space and adds contemplative background wallpapers and a gentle audio soundtrack. So when you load the program, you might find yourself staring at a few spare trees in a snowy park, while in the background (through headphones is best) comes the sound of footfalls echoing in a library and papers rustling softly.
Start typing, and the words appear over the background accompanied by a tiny water-click as you touch each key. Ommwriter runs happily alongside other programs, but prevents them from butting in – so your email notifications and Facebook updates just have to wait until you’ve finished. This makes it great for staying focused and getting your thoughts down on (electronic) paper.
Finished documents can be saved as plain text or PDFs (the Mac version also supports RTF). ‘Proper’ word processor tools are limited, but you do get simple navigation and text selection, search and replace, a word count, a small selection of fonts at different sizes, and the usual cut, copy and paste commands. Elsewhere, Dana is the very definition of minimalist. It doesn’t even have a print function. Nevertheless, if you need to concentrate and simply get words down on a page, it’s hard to imagine a more focused yet relaxed way to do it.
- The interface; all that empty space and ambient sound.
- You can't print out your documents.
Distraction-free writing at its best - an empty screen, a selection of seven ambient soundtracks/keyclicks and eight backgrounds for company and no menus, dialogues, pop-ups, wizards or notifications poking you about this or that. OmmWriter may not do very much, but what it does, it does perfectly.