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Yarny Review: Not a Tangled Mess

Posted by on October 22, 2011 at 11:31 am

Yarny is the best of many worlds for writers. I stumbled upon this program when looking at the list of companies that sponsor the annual writing event of National Novel Writing Month (lovingly called NaNoWriMo). I was looking for something that mixed the functionality of Growly Notes, Google Documents, and a regular word processor, but I wanted something that wasn’t distracting. Yes, I’m picky when it comes to my writing programs, which is why I rarely stick with one.

Yarny is a cloud based program that is in Beta right now which they allow you to submit feedback with ease. It is specifically geared towards Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, but any HTML 5 compliant web browser should work fine (sorry Internet Explorer 6, 7, and 8). The only problem that I have found between switching browsers is that any of the basic formatting you’ve done, such as indents, disappear. As a paranoid writer I made sure to read through the terms and conditions to see how they handled ownership of the material used. They very plainly tell you that they own the program, but you own the information that you use it for. This alone thrilled me, seeing as when Google Docs came out they technically owned the documents that you put on there. Hell DropBox had to redo their terms and conditions in order to make it clear that they did not own your data.

Yarny is similar to a simplified version of Growly Notes or OneNote. There’s a Tab on top that says what project you’re in, three columns: the left and right slimmer columns surround the thicker writing column. The left column contains your snippets, which is the basic writing-block, and those can be further organized into groups. On the right side of the screen you also have a section to keep track of people, places and things, a much needed feature for writers, that section is organized the same way, with groups and snippets. There is no character limit to the snippets that I have found, and the best thing about the snippets is that you can create tags for them. You can tag it by the color of the group, or you can create your own tags so that you can reference things when you need to. I love this feature and it’s not something that I’ve found in any other program except for Writer’s Cafe.

Then you have the actual ‘word processing’ part, it’s very simple, it doesn’t have any actual formatting options, but as you type everything around it fades away so you simply have your page. You do have the option of exporting the snippets into a .txt file so that you can have a copy on your computer to do what you want with. Again, when you export it you lose any paragraph formatting that you’ve done with the tab key. Since you are working in a browser, you do have the option of spell check (as long as you have it enabled on your browser)

When using Yarny in Chrome you have the option to turn it into a desktop application and it does work with tablets; however, there is no mobile version of Yarny, yet, which is a down fall to those user who depend on their mobile phones for everything.

Yarny on Tablets (contributed by Brandon)
Yarny does not have a mobile app, but using Firefox Nightly for Android, Dolphin Browser HD, and Opera Mini, Yarny rendered and functioned well, with a few quirks in Opera Mini. Weirdly enough, the default browser on Android 3.x would not allow me to click on the “options” button on the snippets to rename, change color, move, or delete. Opera had mild success, and Mozilla Nightly and Dolphin Browser HD worked, with Mozilla Nightly rendering everything perfectly. Long-clicking in Mozilla Nightly even brings up a menu similarly if you right clicked on a desktop browser.

The beauty of Yarny is that I don’t have any local files to worry about, and I don’t have any special software I have to download. The flip-side, however, is that there is no local caching, no app to download, and thus, no offline mode. In most situations, I’m not far from the Internet, but it would still be nice to have an app with offline caching. Other than those to wants, Yarny is a great alternative for writers using any number of devices.

8/10 FleshEatingZipper

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