Whether you’re a writer, developer, or any other class of creative, a good tool can be the deciding factor between success and failure in any project you take on.[featured-image link=”http://johnmeese.me/gingko” link_single=”http://johnmeese.me/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Screenshot-2014-05-21-at-5.07.53-PM1-760×419.png” single_newwindow=”false”]A screenshot of Gingko on my Samsung Chromebox[/featured-image]
For a long time, I used Microsoft Office for all my writing, organizing, & presenting needs. I just assumed it was the best option available.
As it turns out, I couldn’t be farther from the truth!
How Gingko Works
Gingko is an online word processor that lets you work on structure & content at the same time. It’s built for mapping out thoughts as a series of cards and organizing them like the branches of a tree.
The app is built with speed in mind, so simple keyboard shortcuts using arrow keys let you hop between cards quickly, inputting content as it comes to mind.
There is no limit to the number of characters within each card, so you can use your document-trees for a simple outline or a thoroughly-written dissertation.
Why You Should Use It
Now that I’ve had a chance to explore the app and get used to it, I’m convinced every creative would benefit from using Gingko for some projects. Here are 8 key features that highlight why:
- Distraction-free writing. The app intentionally has a bare-bones design to keep your writing space clear and open. It’s designed to help you create, rather than get in your way or overwhelm you with options. Text-formatting is based on Markdown, which is super simple to use.
Format as you write. Too many formatting options can become a distraction to writing. What Gingko does is allow you to map your ideas out as you write and move them around seamlessly as needed. Mapping out thoughts as you create gives you the freedom to let your thoughts flow, knowing you can reorganize by simply dragging and dropping ideas around.
Work & save on the web. The app runs 100% online, meaning you don’t have to download any files to use the program or store your documents. This also means that you can leave your project at one computer and pick up just where you left off at another. Plus, auto-save keeps your files always up-to-date.
Built-in project flexibility. Templates are available for story writing, academic papers, project management, and even screenplays. You can use the app to create sleek slide presentations, too. If If you have advanced formatting in mind, HTML & CSS are supported and extensive export options give you all the control you could want.
Make any project public. From within the app, you can choose to make any document public by assigning it a public url. This is incredibly useful if you want to show off your project, get feedback, or create a template. I now use the SCORRE™ method to prepare most of my presentations and writings, so I created a Gingko template to make that easy to replicate.
Share any tree for collaboration. If you’re working on a project with someone else, Gingko allows you to share access to your tree using a private link, so that you and your teammate(s) can work together on the live document simultaneously. Because the project is already broken up into different blocks, Gingko keeps two users from editing the same section at the same time—an issue I’ve run across before with Google Drive.
Fantastic tech support. If and when you need it, a “Contact Support” pop-up is available that lets you type a message to the developers without leaving your project. In the short time I’ve used their service, I’ve interacted with the developers three times—once via the in-app messenger, and twice through Twitter (@Gingkoapp). Each time, their response was prompt, helpful, and courteous.
Did I mention it’s free? Yup, you heard me. With a free account, you can have up to three document-trees at once. If you need more than that, a Pro account with unlimited trees is only $4.99/month (or $39/year). I’m still using the free account, but I’m sure I’ll be upgrading soon.
Gingko is a beautiful app. It’s sleek, flexible, and exactly what every creative needs. Whether you’re writing a novel, outlining a research paper, or planning your next masterpiece—give it a try.
I did. In fact, I wrote this entire blog post using Gingko, and it took half the normal time.[reminder]What could you do with an app like this?[/reminder]
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