How to build a text editor in 2015

You don’t use one of these any more, so why does your text editor interface look like a sheet of paper?

A question we get asked a lot at Poetica is: why would we build yet another text editor?

Writing is one of those things we all take for granted now. There’s no shortage of text editors in the universe, whether on or offline.

Alas, this means that we also take as inevitable the irritations and frustrations of the tools we use. People deal with these idiosyncrasies because they are familiar and accepted — the technical ‘blind spots’ in our new and shiny digital world.

How, where and why you write

Most text editors make several of the following assumptions about how, where and why you write:

  • You write alone
  • Your primary tool is a laptop or desktop with a keyboard
  • You intend to print your work

Unless you are a secret agent (always a possibility), a robot, or making a conscious effort to buck evolution, the likelihood is that most of the time, the opposite of these assumptions is true.


Our own research shows that people who think they write alone, actually don’t. Even if this just means bouncing ideas around with someone prior to getting started, or asking a family member to do a quick once-over for lurking typos before hitting send on a job application, everyone collaborates on their writing. Poetica gives you an intuitive and simple way to give, and get, that feedback.


We increasingly work on the go, via smartphones and tablets. A great mobile-oriented user experience is one more reason for Poetica. Use that train journey to quickly approve or review the feedback on your latest draft.


If you’re not writing for a sheet of paper, then why does your text editor’s interface look like one? (We’re looking at you Google Docs!) A Poetica draft is a living thing that can evolve and continue to grow. And Poetica’s target audience is you folks on the web, who instead of printing, blog and embed and share your stuff all over the place.

Building tools for new behaviours

That’s why we built Poetica. We redesigned the whole concept of the text editor, with those ideas of collaboration and flexibility at the front of our minds — opening up the blind spots and giving you features you never knew you couldn’t live without.

Originally published at on October 1, 2015.

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