XY write it!

August is normally a month dedicated to vacation in Italy, however for our team this has been a great time to work. We fixed, extended, created many new things, some of which will be released soon.

It’s almost a year that we’ve been developing web applications professionally using Ruby On Rails and it’s really good to see that big names are investing money and energy on this technology. But even before famous guys like Jeff Bazos and Steve Case joined the Rails brigade, we knew we were onto something really great to know and fun to use.

Those of you who were at the RailsConf this year in Portland, can better understand what I’m saying. 1,600 people met in Oregon to share their knowledge on this small but promising technology and to celebrate Ruby as a programming language and Rails as common playground.

Working with Ruby on Rails is so funny that you hardly resist the temptation to code the stuff you need from scratch, instead of using already existing products. That was exactly what happened to me this summer.

Some months ago we needed a tool to help us to collaborate writing a document. We used Writeboard by 37signals for few months and it showed us how Textile can be powerful and simple at the same time.

Textile is a simple but powerful markup-language used by many Internet applications; it is a web text markup-language that “balances the strength of HTML with speed and ease of editing”. It allows you to concentrate on the only important thing when you write a document: the content, what you need to communicate. I mean, no huge formatting, no font selection, only text… and a few tags to give a bit of structure.

Using Writeboard we realized that if we would have made a tool like that, we probably would have introduced some changes.

Some small differences like moving comments on the right side of the page – instead of having them on the bottom of the document – or some extensions like a smart phone interface – a mark-up language like Textile is the perfect choice to write a document using small devices such as (smart)phones.

We soon understood that a product like Writeboard can be really useful as plug-ins to many others applications that you are planning to develop.

So after a few days of full time coding, a new product is ready to be delivered. Amazing!

Change the Word… (xy)write it!

Why did we name it this way? For the “seniors” in our team, having a simple but powerful word processor of the good old days means only one thing: XyWrite (remember… no… maybe too young). You can have a deep understanding of what I say reading some stuff on Wikipedia for example.

XyWrite has been a pillar in the word processing market, so we decided to tell it softly and put the brakets in the name. In alt.folklore.computers it was addressed as “the GOD of word processors”.

Well, for sure it was pretty popular during the 80s and many people had the pleasure to use it for a while. That piece of software was a dream running on DOS and a nightmare when it got a GUI. Now with the web, the spirit of XyWrite can be re-established.

Oh, by the way, (xy)write, our new product, is FREE. Anyway, let me introduce you to this wonderful tool pointing out its main features.