Future of Dark Room

Much has changed in the years since Dark Room was originally written, and there are many options available at this time. Thus, the question to be asked is, does continued development of DR make sense? I spent a significant amount of time rewriting the application from scratch to run as an adobe air application. I did this because I was no longer using windows at the time, so dedicating some much time on a .net application did not make a lot of sense, thus a cross platform solution seemed more desirable. Unfortunately, Adobe dropped linux support shortly before the first beta release of the new program. So, I essentially stopped development on it.

I still want to have a cross platform application. I began trying to find new viable options, and I was just about to start a write up in python when I discovered FocusWriter. It is a cross platform distraction free environment, and it uses QT. It’s written in C++, which I don’t really like, but I could deal with it. I would almost say it is enough to use FocusWriter, but it is missing some key functionality from Dark Room I couldn’t live without. Therefore, at this point I am seriously considering forking FocusWriter in order to add in the additional Dark Room functionality.


Author: Jeff

Born a cantankerous old man, mellowed ever so slightly by age.

35 thoughts on “Future of Dark Room”

  1. Randomly a few weeks ago I started up DarkRoom on Windows and forgot that it really is a cool application.

    It would be reallyopment. great if you had a windows app partner or something where you could focus on OSX and somebody else could focus on Windows development. The distraction free market on OS X is huge now where on windows there still isn’t much competition to Dark Room.

    Sadly I’m not much of an application developer but I would help where I could if you asked.

    1. Ironically, I am in a similar situation now as I was when I originally wrote Dark Room. That is, stuck on a PC since my MacBook Pro died. However, now that my day job uses Windows I get sick of it and cannot stand to look at it when I get home, so I am using Ubuntu at home.

  2. FocusWriter is okay, but those few added features are what sold me over DarkRoom. I’d switch back in a minute, really.

  3. DR gave me the focus today to write an article that I really wanted to write. I have always found a distraction for this particular work in the past; some reason not to finish it. I speak to other writers who feel the same. DR worked flawlessly and I couldn’t escape the words that I needed to write.

    I hope that helps. DR works, and it’s the perfect balance for writers.

    Keep up the good work Jeff.


  4. I really enjoy using Dark Room. I hope you continue to develop it, though I (and I hope you) keep in mind that it really is a great piece of software, as is.

  5. Why not try building original DarkRoom under Mono? Are there any major problems? This way you’ll have it crossplatform while keeping the original codebase.

    1. I actually did try to port it to Mono a few years back, and it was missing major libraries I required for the application. And now, I’d be worried about the state of flux the mono project is in.

      1. I was originally planning on using WPF, which Mono never plans on implementing. However, other than that I have some Pinvokes, and a few “todo” methods that aren’t ready. If it weren’t for having to port all the winform code to gtk# it might be worth the effort. I don’t know enough about gtk to know if it supports all the formatting options I currently employ

    2. Your tips are useful for building a strong twitter account in general, which Google PR may be a measure of, what is the point of having a high PR in itself as all the links are classed &#8no6;2ofoll1w’ ?

  6. Hey Jeff. Thanks so much for DarkRoom! I’m sorry if this is off topic, but could you please tell me what the four symbols to the right of the text are for? They light up when I hover them with the mouse, and I’ve tried clicking them all but I just can’t tell what it is that they’re doing, if anything.

    It’s making me nuts!! Sorry if I missed some tutorial on your site or some help file, but I just can’t find the answer. Help?

  7. it’s good to hear that you haven’t really abandoned the darkroom project.
    fork it, spoon it, whatever you do I’ll always be a loyal supported of darkroom. more power! cheers!


  8. For years, I have tried to “make do” with a tool that wasn’t quite exactly what I wanted. It was in the “putting up with it” that ended up ruining the experience for me time and again. For example, I tried to tolerate Google Desktop with it’s sidebar experience for a while. The challenge with was that my work laptop would change screen resolution every time I closed the lid (known issue, nothing to do about it), and the sidebar would gobble up more screen real estate EVERY time as well.

    So I finally stopped tolerating it. I created a Samurize desktop that showed me important information, and I used Desktop Coral to sequester that part of the desktop. And I couldn’t be more happy with the result, plus I’m continually making updates and having fun again.

    So long and short, you could make do with something else, and if you’re able to put up with it, then perfect. And if you’re not, keep working on DR. You have plenty of supporters that love what you’ve done, and your own thing may give you the peace of mind that you can’t find elsewhere. Hope it helps.

  9. Ah, life … wonderful!

    Part of me sees this as an opportunity to get someone to finally build me my personal “ultimate” editor, but I don’t think anyone here wants to see that, right?

    Anyhow, not a big fan of FocusWriter, though I’m sure it would be perfectly serviceable if I had no other choices. Feels a little clunky, looks a little ugly. Scores points mainly for the session functionality, though a bit for the customizability of the backgrounds as well. If you’d just be using it as a codebase, though, it might suffice.

    Looking at QT based apps, though there’s a couple you might look at …

    First off is Prosit, which I’ve never used because they haven’t released a binary of it that I can just run (I’ll only go through so much effort to try some potentially interesting software, thanks). Says its basically a fork of FocusWriter that’s dumping the RTF end of things, tweaking appearance and some functionality. You could probably get a look at it easier than I can, see if it helps make a decision or might be a better basis to start from.

    Second is ResophNotes. Basically the Windows version of NotationalVelocity, and as far as I can tell, still reasonably competitive, even though NV has been forked and added too by lots of folk. May or may not be of any value as a starting point, but is the only Windows app I know of (and trust me, I’ve looked) that does and easy and fast progressive search through a folder of TXT files. One could do worse than to base a proper editor around such functionality. I’d probably be using Resoph for pretty much everything if it wasn’t so darned hard on the eyes. Oh, and I could care less about the SimpleNote sync. That’s just goofy, no matter what all the Mac centric bloggers say ;-p

    I had been using WriteMonkey almost exclusively since the moment Iztok put transparency in when I asked. Haven’t been back to DarkRoom or Q10 since, unfortunately. WM still seems to render the most cleanly, responds quickly and still has alot of functionality that I actually use all the time that no other editor has.

    I also use SublimeText now to supplement WM, primarily due to its ability to manage sessions/projects (which, given its a programmers editor, means its a bit over the top more than I need, so FocusWriter might be a more reasonable place to start to get that functionality into a writer’s editor). I use it to manage files that I like to keep open all the time, like to do lists, notes and whatnot, but also love its sidebar based file manager (need everything in a sidebar now, file manager, Resoph style search withing a file and across a folder/project, document outline/map, you name it ;-p )

    Anyway, I’ve rambled plenty for now. Let me know if you’d like some more ;-p

    1. Thanks for the feedback. I’m a huge fan of Sublime Text, its what I use for my day job. The biggest thing for me is really the presentation. I want to have the maximum amount for flexibility in how text is rendered on the display since I am so picky. I am really just putting off writing my own widgets from scratch.

      1. I’ve got ST tricked out to where its all black, including the sidebar and the backgrounds on the scroll bars (just a little bit of pixel by pixel painting of the icon graphics), and I’ve got comment (//) syntax highlighting exactly how it works for my WM setup. If I could get “find in project” to work something like ResophNotes or like Jumps in WM or the basic Find panel in Word 2010 (or even just reasonably close), I’d be tempted to just use ST for basically everything. Customized sidebar and minimap keyboard shortcuts, plus the usual fullscreen (not to mention multipanel modes) seem to be plenty of display flexibility for me, though I do have issues with its zoom function (only seems to zoom up to say 18 point; I have it set to 24 in the config file, and when I open that and resave it, it sets it to 24, but if I use the Ctrl+ or – to change zoom, it zooms out fine but never back in past 18). I’d say WM renders slightly better than ST at this point, but that’s hardly an immutable law, and its not a big difference (probably unnoticeable to most).

        I know Iztok is allergic to having any sort of state config files laying about for WM (he likes to keep partial wordcount and caret position memory in the NTFS meta data for each file, which is an elegant system as long as you don’t use a FAT32 thumbdrive or Dropbox or anything), but I personally don’t mind session files and search indexes saved by ST or Resoph or I’m sure FocusWriter (strange how FW doesn’t have caret position memory), as long as the individual files are perfectly accessible without them and they’re working to help me work better. Actually, right now, I’ve been shying away from WM a bit because I love Dropbox (and I hate being tied to thumbdrives with a vengence), especially with their new terms of service (some of the verbiage was lifted verbatim from the suggested text I gave them; hell of a way to get immortalized) and using Boxcryptor (seamless, Dropbox aware encrypt/decrypt that I use just on my documents folder). I would love it if ST could give me more of the sort of search functionality I need (really not asking much, might just need to dig into the existing a bit harder and set up appropriate keybindings or something) or if ResophNotes (or something similar) could be based around a bit more serious of an editor (and yes, I’ve even spent some time looking for separate apps that might manage the search and/or file management while still letting me open everything in WM or whatever editor I pleased), but right now its looking like I’ll be sulking back to Word 2010 soon.

        Word is a weird beast right now, and can do most of the stuff anything else could do, its just that it doesn’t do much of the good stuff by default. Like its still got the full screen view, but you have to dig for it as its not in any menu or even assigned a keybinding by default. Its also got a function that you can hit right after opening a doc and as long as its a DOC or DOCX, the caret will jump back to the position it was in when you saved. The new Navigation and Find sidepanel can manage what I use Jumps for in WM, and the full document find is second to none, as well as the drag and drop organization of headered sections. Just don’t feel like going through the work of getting a template built or redoing all the important keyboard shortcuts (there always seems to be just one more to find that you don’t realize till you reach for the function; luckily, 2010 will let you export your full batch of settings from one machine and import them into the copy on another).

        Now, if I could just stop obsessing about the tools so much and get more writing done …

  10. Sunday morning 9/4/11: Updating my bookmarks/I’ve been here 40+ minutes: especially liked Undecim.

    Came looking for Dark Room updates, not a professional writer but do quite a bit; my daughter ‘loves’ DR, she uses it all the time.

    Am not a programmer, but do a lot of reading on the subject and understand enough to realize the amount of time and effort that you have to take from somewhere else to put into a project like this.

    Point is, Dark Room is a classic example of form and function. Hope you choose to keep it alive.

  11. I just want to say that I really Love DarkRoom, Even better than FocusWriter.

    I’ll admit FocusWriter does have useful features such as spell check, but the menu part of the interface clashes, especially when you use a black-green them like DarkRoom.

    Two things that would be awesome in DarkRoom:
    1. Menu dropdown window: There are only about 13 or so commands. It would be nice if you simply had an icon next to the scroll buttons that opened a simple menu with all commands, preferably matching the theme so it doesn’t pop out. Maybe instead have these menu’s show up when you move the curser to the top of the screen, again matching the theme.

    2. Basic spell checker, if possible. grammer too if you can, but only if you can find a compatible library.

    Also: can you make this into a web service? like if you login to DarkRoom.com you can load a fullscreen flash version that saves your files automatically, with a html version for smartphones and tablets.

    1. I was very happy to seek out this wei.ebts-I desired to many thanks for your energy with this fantastic read!! I definitely enjoying every little little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.May I just say what a relief to discover somebody who truly knows what theyre referring to on the internet.

  12. Hello all. I’m sort of new to DarkRoom, and I was wondering if there was a way to configure it to have wider borders? Not that I mind the thin borders, but I’d definitely like it if I could adjust it so I could be writing more in less space. I don’t know if there is such a way, but wider borders would be nice. Thank you all.

  13. Hey Jeff,

    I know this is a little late, but have you considered building DR out in Mono? This would save your investment in .NET Framework development and also allow you to build and package it for just about every major platform. Seeing as Mono is/was developed to give C#/.NET access to developers targeting the Linux/*nix platforms, this seems like it may be a decent option to allow you to continue development and support of DR.

    Just my .02 worth…


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  14. I just recently got an error with Dark Room 0.8b. I tried going to the report bugs, but got an error page. Whenever I reload Dark Room, I seemed to get some sort of un-handled exception. But I’m not sure what the issue is.

    I find it really handy, when I’m not needing distractions from Nano.

  15. If you are reading this, Your github repository of Dark Room W has pull request stuck in limbo because you disappeared. If you can’t maintain the project, add new project manager. Otherwise, Forking from this branch is pointless.

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