Growly Write word processor

An interesting and free word processor for OS X has recently become available, named Growly Write It was created by Chris Mason, who at one point was in charge of a major update for MS Word code-named ‘Pyramid’, which Microsoft canned before it reached fruition. Growly Write is presented as a simple word processor, but while lacking footnotes, it seems to do most everything else.
User Interface
Documents can be edited in Pages view and/or Draft view. Any single document can be edited using a split window or multiple tabs. A pane to the left shows document structure (chapters, bookmarks, etc.) for easy navigation. (Fans of word processors based around a draggable, rearrangeable outline view will be disappointed, though.)
A pane to the right shows controls for formatting characters, paragraphs, chapters, the document, and contextually for images, tables, lists, etc. There are some surprising options, such as drop caps, balancing columns at the end of chapters (i.e., sections), and mirrored layout for book binding. Floating images with wrapped text are supported very well and can be anchored either to individual pages or to bookmarks. Growly Write has strong support for styles.
File Formats
Growly Write has its own file format, which (peering inside the bundle) contains a text file, a folder for attachments, and two files containing formatting and document structure details. It also writes/reads RTF and RTFD format files using a custom rtf reader/writer engine, instead of Apple’s half-assed implementation. The rtf code it produces is amazingly clean, compared to the lunacy that OpenOffice spits out, or even LibreOffice’s slightly cleaner code. The documentation states that the .rtf format supports all of Growly Write’s features, but in my testing, some features seemed to not render correctly when reloaded from an .rtf file, such as drop caps and the checkbox paragraph-prefix option (even though I could see they were present in the .rtf code). With mixed success, Growly Write can read html files as ‘documents’ (like an editable web browser) and writes documents to html too (with separate .html and .css files).
Everything but Footnotes
I’m a little surprised that footnotes are not supported, considering the layout engine already accommodates wrapping text around floating images, sections breaks etc. Really, implementing footnotes at that point would be more of an intellectual exercise in layout algorithms and optimization than the pain in the butt it would be otherwise. I can personally testify that there will be an endless number of people claiming “I would use your word processor for EVERYTHING if only it did footnotes. As it stands, I can’t recommend it to anyone.” Such is life.
Naturally, not everyone will like it. Text selection via the keyboard drives me nuts (it always selects more than I want, causing me to have to start over). There is no ‘distraction free mode,’ which was all the rage a few years ago. Growly Write doesn’t support the ‘modernized document model’ with Versions and Apple’s saveless autosave, if you’re into that kind of thing. The OS X popup dictionary doesn’t work.
In the final analysis, a pretty amazing app, and for free.

Thanks for the hint, it’s really a beautiful word processor! Small, fast, easy – and with some new features (for example, the tab view: amazing).

Yes, thanks for the hint. It seems to be something occupying the same cyber-space as the now discontinued “Bean”. I could wish it used a standard file format like RTF, rather than yet another custom format, but I guess the developer has good reason for doing it that way. I’ve downloaded and installed it, but haven’t tried it yet. One thing I notice is that it has its own “expand shorthand entries” system; I wonder if that will cause any conflict with the likes of TextExpander … though one could turn one or the other of them off.

Anyway, it looks great. If it lives up to its feature list it may well stay on my system, though I’ll need to think carefully about using it to replace Bean as a quick word-processor, and it wont replace NWP, that’s for sure.


Further to this. I tried using it on my MacBook Air, but I’ve given it up.

i) the key combos to move the cursor around simply didn’t work … I couldn’t get the cursor to move to the beginning or end of a line, in particular.

ii) minority interest, I know, but the rendering of Chinese is appalling.

So my quick word manipulator remains Bean; NWP for the heavy lifting.