Remember when we learned how to use index cards at school? Index cards are great for taking notes that will eventually be used in a research paper. There are software developers that are working on the index card idea and creating software applications that allow one to create index-card-like documents that one can use and reuse for articles and books. One of these software applications is called TextBlockWriter. The author describes it this way:
Text Block Writer is a virtual index card program for writers. It can be used to organize research papers, articles, fiction, non-fiction, books and whatever related to writing. It is intended for people like me who use paper index cards to write all the notes and pieces of an essay, and then arrange the pieces and then use that to type them into the computer. With this program, you can type in the notes and arrange them on the computer, and then export them to an rtf document (that can be opened in word, open office, or just about any other word processor).
The TextBlockWriter is an easy-to-use application that allows one to write small bits of text that one can arrange and re-arrange and publish later as an article. I have been using it to write some of the blog articles that I post in different websites.
Features I Like
1. The index-card-like documents called "blocks" that allow one to write short bits of ideas that one can later on bring together.
2. The Utility-Panel with its Live-Preview function that allows one to see the whole document with all the cards attached to one another.
3. The color-coding tool which allows one to mark each index card in different colors. This is useful if the article will be made up of different kinds of data like bibliography, quotation, a summary, a graphic file (although TextBlockWriter does not support it).
4. The capacity to arrange the blocks into columns and pages.
5. The file export capacity for formatting one's finished article for printing.
6. The Block Shelf which allows one to hide certain data instead of deleting them. This is important for reusing certain items later on.
TextBlockWriter is a help for writers. The author of the software tells us that he has written books using his own program. I think that one of the features which set off TextBlockWriter from any word processor is that it allows one to rearrange data within the document itself. One cannot do that in Word.
It is not just a substitute for Windows Card. EXE. One of the features makes TextBlockWriter different from Windows Card.EXE (do you still remember it?) is that TextBlockWriter actually allows one to rearrange data through drag-and-drop. And one can do this across pages, not only by columns.
There are other index-card softwares available around. But these are most often difficult to use. I am thinking, for example, of Sommestad's "The Literary Machine" which I featured in this blog some years back. The software was so complicated that those who actually downloaded and installed it after reading my review stopped using it after a while. With TextBlockWriter, one does not have to worry about learning curves. One can learn to use it after just a few hours of typing into it.
TextBlockWriter is free to download and use. The author does not even ask for links to his site. There are commercial software that work like TextBlockWriter but they offer almost the same features. (Some boast of the capacity to take in graphic files. But when you are writing, it is best to concentrate first on the content. Eye candy should come afterwards. Besides, TextBlockwriter helps one with the contents; let a WordProcessor take care of the problem of graphics.)
Whether you are a student, a professional, TextBlockWriter can help you produce a well-written article or blogpost in just a few minutes.
Tip for Writing an Article
For Writing An Article or Research Paper
1 Create an outline; make it as detailed as possible (see graphic)
2 Type your content, one card for each idea in your outline.
3 Color the blocks if you wish to distinguish certain types of content: placeholder for graphics. Or you can use color-coding for each data file that corresponds to a sub-heading of your outline.
4 After completing your work, check whether your typed materials satisfy you. If yes, and you wish to have it printed, go to no. 5. If not, go to no. 6.
5 Go to Live-Preview, highlight the whole thing and copy (Ctrl+C). Open up your WordProcessor and paste your material there (Ctrl+V). Format and print. (Or you can click the Export-to-RTF button if you wish.)
6 TextBlockWriter is so made that you can rearrange your data within it through drag-and-drop.
7 If you still need to add a few more data, then do so, creating a new block for each. Once you are satisfied, go to no. 5.
As Personal Information Manager
One can also use it as a Personal Information Manager. You can always create a new document with TextBlockWriter that you can fill with all sorts of data. For each of this data, you can assign a particular color for To Do's, Contacts or any other note that you need collected (e.g. A bibliographical note, etc.).
You can download TextBlockWriter from its author's site, SoftWareByBrian. It works on the MicrosoftNET package, so be sure that you have it already installed in your computer. You can get it for free from Microsoft. The download link for this is also provided at SoftWareByBrian.
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