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14 November 32010 / Robin Wellner

Stork

No, this isn’t about the long-legged wading bird, the torture device also known as “Scavenger’s daughter”, the brand of margarine, the Australian comedy film, the Dutch company, the experimental rock band, the fictional character, the observation aircraft, the Belgian-born US chemist, the gamer or the doctor best known for appearing on American TV shows The Bachelor and The Doctors.

Stork is the name of one of my latest projects. I’ll explain after the break.


Hi there.

As a writer with the attention span of a — look, a squirrel! Anyway, I’m always looking for tools to improve my productivity. I’ve tried distraction-free writing (and made my own editor), LyX, a Markdown-like content processor called Wrong, …

So, what insane invention intended to increase productivity is keeping me from writing this time? It is a category of applications I can only call “structured creative writing suites”. They usually allow you to subdivide your story in scenes and have other tools to structure plot, characters, locations, timelines, etcetera. These programs are usually written by writers.

Unfortunately, they have two disadvantages: they are usually neither free nor Free and they only seem to be made for Windows (save the occasional OS X app — writers are artists, after all).

You probably know where this is headed: I decided to take this up myself.

Shiny K

It's not really KDE if it doesn't have a K in the name.

The result? Stork. It’s called that way because it helps you write stories, and it is made using PyKDE. Or maybe I just wanted to name a program after a bird — and calling it Robin would make me seem rather self-important. Also, I’m really bad at naming projects.

Anyway, this project would kill two birds with one stone (too subtle?), because not only it would give me and other writers on Linux a useful tool, it also would help me get familiar with PyKDE and the dev side of KDE. The last time I used the KDE IDE was the Duck Duck Go Plasma widget, as described in Ten things I hate about Kubuntu 10.04.

I actually wasn’t sure whether I would write it using PyKDE in Python or KDE itself in C++. I restarted the project about six times in the course of a week, alternating Python and C++. Eventually, I settled on Python, because I’m vastly more experienced in Python than in C++, and I didn’t want to get stuck with Stork, not knowing whether the problem was caused by my inferior knowledge of C++ or my inexperience with the KDE architecture and API.

And now, Stork runs. It doesn’t do anything yet, but it shows a window with a simple menu, a toolbar, the tree view and the main editor. Now I just have to implement all the behaviour.

Screenshot of Stork

I don’t know how to properly handle SLOTs, documentation and the internet don’t seem to have an answer to that. I suppose I should ask a question about that on Stack Overflow. And if/when I found the answer, I could use it in the project for the Documenteers that I still want to start some time.

Stork’s not up on GitHub yet, because I feel it is too brittle for the world to see. However, that might be completely different in two weeks.

So that’s Stork. Thanks for reading.

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5 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. qubodup / Nov 15 2010 10:21

    TeXworks has an optional section/part/etc sidebar. Obviously LaTeX is in itself distracting though.

  2. qubodup / Nov 15 2010 10:25

    PS: just found PyRoom.

    • Robin Wellner / Nov 15 2010 18:55

      I know PyRoom, I think I even used it. I forgot what was so horribly wrong with it.

      And LaTeX… when I’m writing stories, the furthest I’m willing to go in terms of syntactic complexity is Markdown. 😉

  3. kikito / Dec 22 2010 19:24

    Publish this already, you lazy ass.

    • Robin Wellner / Dec 22 2010 20:36

      Coincidentally, I’ve worked quite a bit on it today, but it’s still nowhere near ready. It loads Stork files correctly now, and the treeview is loaded based on it. So you still can neither see nor edit the data, let alone save it. I could put it up on GitHub now, but I doubt anyone’s going to want to see it in this shape. 😉

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