Rich Text Format (.rtf)

I’ve often been asked why Writing Shed only supports rich text format. The answer is that IOS only supports rich text format. You might think the app ought to support both Word and Apple Pages formats, and I would agree. In reality though the specification of Word’s document format is huge and it would take me years of work to provide full support for it. Indeed the code would be much larger than the Writing Shed is at the moment. As far as Pages documents go Apple does not provide details of the document format, so there is nothing I could do to support it.

Oddly Mac OS X contains support to import and export Word and Pages documents. But the import process converts only the Word/Pages document to rich text format; any formatting features not supports by rich text are discarded. You can see this if you use the Quicklook feature in Mac OS X to display the contents of any document without launching another app (tap the space bar on any document selected in the Finder) the displayed document is actually rich text.

The fact is that rich text format is more than adequate for most writers. It allows you to change font and font size and supports paragraph justification, which is really all you need to produce copy to be sent to a publisher. If this isn’t enough then you can always export the text and apply further formatting using your chosen word processor.


Icon Technology: a bit of history

In 1983 I started a company called Icon Technology in partnership with Mike Glover, an Apple Dealer in Leicester. The aim of the company was to develop software for the Apple Macintosh which had just been launched. Our first product was a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) word processor called MacAuthor. As its name implies it was designed for writers and was used by a number of well known authors, such as the late Douglas Adams. I did all the software development, eventually helped by Bob Pollard, an old ICL colleague; Mike handled sales and marketing. It took us two years to bring the product to market and it did quite well, but was eventually swamped by the big bucks at Microsoft who’d ported Word to the Mac. The company eventually went on to develop word processors for Acorn’s RISC computer. I eventually left the company in 1994. Bob stayed but unfortunately passed away at the young age of fifty. I’m not sure what happened after that, but I think Mike sold the company to a third party. This link leads to a website that was alive in 2000 offering all the Acorn products for sale. I  very much doubt it exists any more. It was an interesting ten years.



I guess lots of writers, particularly poets, handwrite their early drafts. I certainly do. Since creating Writing Shed though I have started using Notes Plus, a brilliant handwriting app, to produce my initial drafts. When I am ready to add the text to Writing Shed I simply tap a button to convert the handwriting to text. I then copy the text and paste it into a new draft in Writing Shed. There are usually mistakes in the conversion, but these are easy to correct. If your handwriting is clear then the number of conversion mistakes will be small.