Second Week on Dabble

Apparently one post is a precedence (according to Ryan Tyer). Now I must write another. You can catch up with my first week with Dabble.

This week there was less visibly done. But nonetheless important stuff.


As a writer, you’ll likely have many projects, completed, in the works, or just placeholders for an idea you have. You don’t want to scroll to the bottom of an alphabetical list to work on your “Zenocide” smash hit. Nor do you want to write down manuscript ideas on paper just because adding them to Dabble ordered by creation date will push your current novel to the bottom.

So Dabble now sorts by last opened date in the manuscripts view. The projects you haven’t touched in forever will be nicely collecting dust at the bottom (I have yet to add the dust effects) and your fresh new novels will sparkle and gleam at the top (yet to add sparkle and gleam effects). A screenshot you may imagine is sorted in order of last opened.

Screen Shot


Nothing. I slacked. I let you down. I failed!


I got to sleep in.


Navigation day. I prettied up the navigation. I wanted the fonts to match in order to make it easier to find what you’re looking for. The book nav is now the same font as the book title. The chapter nav is the same font as chapter headings. Scenes are now the same font as your manuscript.


I made the nav less “deep”, meaning, your scene is now indented a quarter of the way from the left edge instead of half way, giving you more room to have a meaningful title.

You can also now open and close the sections, because hey, who doesn’t like opening and closing things?

I cleaned up code and added CDN support. That means the files are hosted on a fast server instead of a slow one. Yay!

BY THE WAY! Did I tell you I’ve been building this for and testing this in the browser? Well, I have been. I glossed over it pretty quick last week, but Dabble will have a desktop app for working from the comfort of your own lappy, AND it will have a browser version (pretty much identical) that will allow you to continue writing during your lunch break. Huh-mazing, I know, right? This feature will be part of the paid plans which include cloud storage and syncing between devices.


Thursday, the day I put in book-title/author/chapter-title editing. Since these portions didn’t need any great programming genius (in contrast to the scene editing) I was able to get them in easy enough. It was good to be able to rename my book. No more Untitled by Unknown (might be an interesting name for a book, but not for every book).


I did a bunch of code and visual cleanup that my week of coding left behind. Gotta keep up on those things or you find yourself going slower and slower as time goes on (and you make more bugs, and you hate your work, and life sucks, and it’s just better to keep up some basic house keeping).


A special day. The day I added navigation between documents. Up until this day when you opened a manuscript you would get the full book and when you clicked on the navigational pieces on the left, it would scroll to that location in your book. This is better than Word where you have to scroll and scroll and scroll. And scroll. But I want to focus solely on one chapter. Or even one scene. So now, when you click on a navigation item it opens that one item up solo. All by itself. You can look at the whole book, a complete chapter, or a single scene. You have the choice now. I may add a toggle setting to switch between scroll and select, but I don’t think it will make the cut. Focus is much better this way. Focus is essential to a writer.

I also made the folder arrows hide unless you hover over the nav item. Cleans up the nav IMO. The screenshot below didn’t capture the mouse, but I was hovering over “Characters”. I may change my mind and decide it is nicer to know at a glance what is open/closed. But for now, I like having less visual clutter.



The first week was some initial design and getting screens up. The second week was more under-the-hood programming and making stuff work.

This week, I am putting off tackling the hard problem of the text editor (procrastination is one of my best skills), and hitting product design. I find that when wearing my programming hat, I have a hard time keeping the vision of Dabble at the forefront. So I’m getting it planned out and written down. This week I’m wearing my product design hat.

As writers we have several hats. Hats for plotting, writing, and editing. This concept informs my product design and plays a big role in how Dabble will work for you. You generally only where one hat at a time. Whether you are a plotter or a pantser. And Dabble will help you focus on the role you are playing at a given moment. More on this later.