After several months of development, it is finally time to introduce the world to WriteType. WriteType is an application designed to aid young students in writing and typing on the computer. It offers text completion to make touch typing more efficient. It also will read back the document with one of the four implemented text-to-speech engines, enable teachers to easily highlight areas for review, and more.
Why does WriteType exist?
My mom (an elementary school teacher) came home one day raving about the new coolest piece of technology acquired by her school. These devices helped students to type more easily by offering them suggestions as they typed. Becoming slightly suspicious, I asked for more information.
Apparently, the school had been purchasing these $400-500 devices because they offered word completion. These devices, vaguely reminiscent of the infamous AlphaSmart series, were anything but ergonomic or easy to use. Word completion was the killer feature that made paying $500 to type on a itsy-bitsy LED screen seem like an attractive offer. It would seem that a feature included by default in most cell phones would have at least one desktop implementation, however a little bit of research showed that this awkward brand of “computer” was indeed the only way to make use of auto-completion while typing documents.
The shock effect alone was enough to motivate me to spend the weekend hacking up an initial version. I sent out some early versions a local elementary school to be tested. But as time went on, I began hearing from other people as well. If a program that achieves such a feat was in such high demand, it is quite amazing that no proprietary software company has made any attempt to capitalize on the needs of schools. Of course, readers of my blog understand how I feel about greedy educational companies who claim to want what is best for education but really just want to be filthy rich. Because of these beliefs, I had no choice but to release WriteType as free software.
Where can WriteType be downloaded?
Downloads are available at the WriteType homepage.
- Teach WriteType to a child or give it to a school
- By helping out students, you are helping WriteType. WriteType exists to benefit students, so the more that have access to it, the better.
- Submit bug reports
- I am able to test WriteType on a GNU/Linux computer, but my testing can only go so far. It is vital that WriteType is stable if it is to be used to benefit students. Bug reports can be submitted on Launchpad.
- Submit feature requests
- The best feature request come from those who use WriteType frequently. Any problems, suggestions, etc. can be submitted as a Launchpad bug report with the tag “feature”.
- Package WriteType for Windows
- I have a limited ability to make packages for Windows, so more higher-quality Windows releases would be greatly appreciated, since that is what most schools will (unfortunately) be running.
- Package WriteType for your GNU/Linux distribution
- Currently, I have only a .deb package and a Python package. Any other packages would be welcomed. I also tried (unsuccessfully) to create a working PPA on Launchpad for *buntu distributions. If anyone with experience on this would be willing to give me some advice, that would be very much appreciated.
- Translate WriteType
- If you are interested in translating, let me know and we’ll talk privately about it.
- Submit a patch or join the development effort
- If you are a Python developer, I would love your help! The more, the merrier!
If you have any questions, you can ask in Launchpad Answers or leave a comment. I hope you enjoy WriteType!