Write Wise Blog

Announcing the 2016 Writing Challenge

We've had a number of brilliant entries to the Open Challenge in 2016, which is very encouraging to see. Write Wise continues to spawn great stories and I love reading them. There have also been a number of improvements to the Write Wise site itself, including the launch of the new Write Wise v3 reader.

It's been an eventful year for the site. I thank everybody who has contributed to the community, whether that be with stories or comments. It's very much appreciated.

We no longer host all that many writing challenges, due to the shift in focus to the Open Challenge, but last year's Christmas Challenge in 2015 was such a massive success that I've decided to run a challenge this December, too.

2016 Write Wise Writing Challenge

The challenge will open in a few months, to remain open until December 20th. I hope everybody who entered 2015's will be able to enter this year's challenge, as it was a lot of fun to have three entries posted together last year.

Happy writing, everybody!

Written by Aaron, Saturday 10 September 2016

Write Wise 2.4 is here

It's been a few months since we've had an update, but Write Wise 2.4 is here!

This may appear to be a small update in terms of user functionality, but the changes to the architecture of Write Wise are huge. This is the single biggest code change to Write Wise since 2011. Therefore, please be on the lookout for bugs and report them here.

2.4 changes:

  • Potato Journal log in - you now share your user account with Potato Journal. It's kind of mad that it has taken 3 years to get to this point, but the main benefits of this are a more secure authentication system, integration with Journal sites and the ability to use your Gravatar!
  • You will now be taken to the v3 reader if the story you want to read supports it (ie. it is a public-facing story).

Enjoy the update!

Written by Aaron, Monday 25 July 2016

v2.4 Coming Soon

The next iteration of Write Wise will be coming within the next month or so. Version 2.4 introduces some fundamental architectural changes in and around the user authentication / session system.

Come Version 2.4, you will be able to log in to Write Wise using your Potato Journal credentials, instead of the now-ancient Potato ID system.

This marks one of the largest architectural changes to Write Wise in about 5 years. Coming up next on the roadmap:

  • Switching to use the new v3 Reader for all stories.
  • Improvements to story and series management pages.

Let me know if there are any improvements or features you would like to see, and I will try to incorporate them into the roadmap.


Written by Aaron, Sunday 5 June 2016

v2.3 Released

I had mentioned, a few blog posts ago, that a new reader (and API) was being developed for Write Wise.

I have just pushed Version 2.3. which introduces the new reader -- though this new reader will not yet replace the existing one. The new reader is currently only able to read public-access stories (and not stories which are marked private). Despite the reader not being fully deployed yet, I'd still love it if you gave it a whirl and let me know what you think. Here are some stories you can read using the new reader:

The main advantages of the new reader are:

  • Responsive design -- the v3 reader will adjust itself to work well on any resolution. This will make the reader much better suited to mobile reading.
  • Asynchronous content downloading. Content is loaded as and when it is needed. Changing a page does not reload the entire page, it merely downloads the content for the next chapter.

Further, an API is now available for use. I haven't put together any documentation for the API, but some sample URIs can be found below:

The API is being used by the new reader, but it is open for anybody to use. It allows access to Write Wise's data (or, at least, its story and chapter data) so that any third-party application can make use of it. Feel free to play around with it.

Finally, a username bug on the main page has been fixed.

Enjoy and let me know your thoughts! If any bugs or issues crop up, please do shout.

Written by Aaron, Friday 1 April 2016

Write Wise 2015 Challenge

Thank you to everybody who entered the 2015 Challenge and also a big thank you to everybody who took the time to read the entries!

I had hoped the challenge would bring us all together again, to write stories together, and I think it has been a huge success. Well done everybody -- I think we produced three very unique, interesting stories.

Have a great Christmas!

Written by Aaron, Wednesday 23 December 2015

Challenge closes tomorrow and new features

The 2015 Writing Challenge closes tomorrow. Hopefully some of you have had the chance to get writing and enter! If so, I look forward to reading your work.

It's been a little while since I pushed v2.2 of Write Wise out, which introduced our new homepage. In the next month or two, I intend release two important updates:

  1. A new story reader.
  2. A new authentication system.

Starting with number 1 first: we've had the current reader for quite a while and it has served us well, but it's starting to show its age a bit. It was built in an era before mobiles ruled the web and, as a result, is a bit of a pain to use on non-desktop clients.

The new reader will be architecturally different from the rest of Write Wise (as it currently stands). Currently, when you load a page on Write Wise, the page is created on the server and sent to you, the client, fully formed.

For the new reader, I'm going to experiment with a different approach:

Write Wise Reader

Basically, an API will serve the data (chapters, cover images etc) and the web page will dynamically retrieve the data and decide how to display that data. Instead of the server retrieving the data and working out how to display the data, the clients will make a request for the data and handle the displaying themselves.

What are the advantages of this? Well, for one, it separates the data and presentation layers. This means that we could, in theory, have a Write Wise mobile application use the same data endpoint to retrieve the stories and display them on a native mobile app.

The main benefit I'm hoping to see, however, is in performance. Instead of having to re-render the entire page, when the user clicks 'Next' the web application will make a request for the next chapter and simply update the existing page with the new data.

This is something of a personal experiment. It is a total departure from how I have made websites in the past, so I'm open to this proving to be something of a failure. Time will tell!

The new authentication system is functionally very critical to the "modernising Write Wise" project. The current authentication system was one I wrote way back in 2011. Its API is very dated and clunky to use and it makes writing the new Write Wise a total chore.

I intend to replace it with a new authentication system, with a simpler API, that hooks into the Potato Journal account system. This means that you'll be able to log into Write Wise using your Potato Journal account, hopefully finally putting to rest Potato ID.

Write Wise has a lot of exciting potential ahead! All of these technological changes are important, but it's you -- the writers -- who make Write Wise what it is. So, thanks for continuing to contribute to the site.

Written by Aaron, Saturday 19 December 2015