TextRoom 0.2.5 is, judging by the numbering, a beta version, and many of its shortcomings undoubtedly stem from that. According to the software’s wiki (http://code.google.com/p/textroom/), TextRoom is “simple open-source full-screen rich text editor for writers.” Basic formatting is enabled: font, font size, italic, underline and bold. TextRoom is available for Windows and Linux at http://code.google.com/p/textroom/downloads/list.
- The interface is unintuitive.
- The help documentation consists of one pop-up window keyboard listing shortcuts. I cannot find any further documentation, either in the program itself or online.
- There is no visual indication of selected text.
- There seems to be no way to change the default document font; it must be changed for each document. Default foreground/background colors can be changed (I have mine set to a nostalgic blue background/white foreground scheme), and the default font for the status bar can be changed.
- Formatting is glitchy. For example, I often have to press the prescribed keyboard shortcut twice to turn on bold, italic or underline.
- Documents are saved in HTML 4 (strict) format, though the default extension is TXR. No other options are provided.
- For the timed writing mode, it is not clear what units of time are being used. I tried setting it for “2” and starting the timed mode, but after three minutes I could not tell that anything had happened.
- Saving documents has a bug that made me lose one version of this review because it was saved as an empty document.
- The statusbar (at the bottom of the screen) shows a running wordcount total.
- There are modes for targeted writing, either by wordcount or by time limit, and a deadline feature.
- One nice feature of the wiki is a list of alternatives to TextRoom.
- The interface and feature set are deliberately kept simple so that writers, who are TextRoom’s target users, can focus on one thing: writing.
I find two features of TextRoom useful: the running word count (something I would like to see standard in word processing software), and the targeted modes for writing exercises. However, the bug in saving documents is impossible for me to overlook, and I will not be using the current version of TextRoom. I will keep an eye on future releases, though.