Less is more

As a creative professional, a large portion of my time is spent creating, designing and developing attractive solutions, experimenting with colour, contrasts and composition, and focusing on the presentation of the content, rather than the content itself.

The tools of my trade are the heavyweight applications from Adobe and Apple, including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Aperture, Motion, Final Cut Pro and Keynote, although a personal favourite of mine for visualisation is SketchUp and I have a soft spot for Filemaker Pro, which I’ve used administratively for longer than I care to remember. I rarely need to explore beyond these core applications, although I do also have at my disposal an arsenal of utilities which I can call on for specific tasks, such as FTP transfer or transcoding as and when required.

Working with these mature, complex, creative applications has become second nature, their keyboard shortcuts and finger-gymnastics committed to muscle-memory long ago, whilst their multiple, floating tool palettes, windows and dialogue boxes create a colourful, productive and comforting working environment.

So it is strange, if not a little disconcerting, that I find myself enjoying the experience of being immersed in a totally different, alien world, a world completely devoid of visual stimulus or distraction, where nostalgic, monochrome simplicity brings the task in hand into crystal clear focus. As someone ordinarily involved with content presentation rather than creation, I find myself actually wanting to create, to write, to express my thoughts and opinions, driven to be creative in a whole new way.

This liberation comes courtesy of a wonderful little Mac application that I am grateful to fellow Twitterer @JohnLamont for bringing to my attention. The deceptively simple Ommwriter presents a refreshingly minimalist approach to writing that strips away all the clutter of colourful icons, tools, menus and palettes usually found in typical word processing applications, and feels almost like taking a step back in time. The blank screen and flashing cursor remind me of a bygone computing era, where for others, I suspect using Ommwriter will feel most akin to sitting at a typewriter, watching the words flow across the page as your fingers dance across the keyboard, religiously filing up the screen with every carriage return.

When typing, Ommwriter is full screen and presents no menubar or user interface at all, only your words floating over a serene snow scene background. Simultaneously, you are enveloped in an immersive audio experience, with calming, almost hypnotic, ambient tones and subtle keystroke sounds, all of which focuses your mind in a way I have personally never experienced before. Moving the mouse introduces a cleverly crafted menu of icons from which you can choose from a selection of alternative background images, ambient audio and keyboard clicks, as well as change the font style and size, or save and export your work. It is beautifully simple, and simply beautiful at the same time, with neat touches to the interface that are testimony to the attention to detail and effort that was put into development.

Ommwriter manages to perfectly balance form and function, to the point that it is a work of art. Whilst I’m sure many Mac users will stick with what they know best, and there is no question that applications like Word and Pages are great at what they do, you really don’t need a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

If you just want to write, be totally immersed in your writing, or – like me – be inspired to write, you ought to try it out for yourself. If ever proof were needed that less is more, Ommwriter is that proof.

Find out more at http://www.ommwriter.com

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2 thoughts on “Less is more”

  1. Spot on! You might only consider it as a word processor and think the UI, lush backgrounds and chill sounds are only Zen upgrades. Half true. Think of Ommwriter as an experience designed to deliver productive thoughtful writing. It’s full screen obliteration of all else on your desktop keeps you focused on your copy. No growl pop-ups from twitter with tales of diversion and un-productive time wasting.

    Give it a try and oh its coming for Windows and iPad too.

    1. Thanks John – looking forward to trying out the iPad version. Windows I can live without, so to speak 😉

      Would be interesting if Ommwriter were considering offering some sort of online sync between versions. You could then work on your copy at your desktop, sync the draft to the ‘omm cloud’ and then switch to the iPad for further work…. food for thought!

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