The Art of Zenware, and Why You Should be Using It

What is zenware and why should I use it?

Last week I wrote about the benefits of a clean workspace.  As mentioned in that article, a good workspace needs plenty of white space, is free of clutter and has a minimal number of items.  Its this description, which perfectly describes a relatively new breed of apps, known as ZenWare.

The best way to describe ZenWare is to show an excellent example.  Fellow bloggers, here is an amazing tool that could really improve the quality of your writing.  WriteRoom, is a ZenWare writing tool.  It has a serious lack of features, which just happens to be a very good thing.  It forces you to do one thing and one thing only, write.

WriteRoom, a Mac application (there is a Windows app for the less enlightened ;) ), will overlay your screen with black, blocking out everything else.  Essentially it leaves behind no distractions and also aims to be easy on the eyes.

Obviously the goal of WriteRoom isn't to be the most capable word processor.  Instead, it elegantly focuses on the single core function of what any word processor should be, writing.    And its this unfaltering focus that makes WriteRoom so beautiful ni its simplicity.

If applications could speak, a regular old app would say something like this. "Look at me and all my wonderful features.  Just look at what I can can do".  Where as the zenware equivalent,  would say, "Dude, its all about you.  Don't worry about me just concentrate on the task at hand". Its this difference that really excites me.  The regular apps are show-offs, designed to overload you with features.  Where as, the simplicity of an app such as writeroom shifts the focus away from application and onto you.  It puts you in the spotlight!

Zenware are a new breed of application which are designed from the get go to help you get more done.

If you find yourself in as struggle to get words onto paper (or screen uhm), then WriteRoom will help you.  Personally, many of the best articles I've written have been done in WriteRoom.

Lets take a look at another example of a ZenWare application, Anxiety.  The name is certainly misleading as Anxiety is anything but.  It is a simple, no fuss to do list application.  It provides only what you need, and everything else is either well hidden or removed from the application.

Anxiety does a good job, although I was even more impressed by Notational Velocity.   This application has the best User Interface for a note taking application I have seen (and I've studied hundreds).  It requires no mouse and eliminates the "standard" steps involved when creating a note via a desktop application.  You have to use it to get an idea of what I'm talking about.

The final piece of Zenware I want you to take a look at is an relatively new writing application called OmmwriterOmmwriter, has the same effect as WriteRoom, by blocking out all distractions.  However, this app goes one step further by introducing relaxing sounds and a calming background.    The application is definitely "out there", and won't be for everyone.    But if you're a mac user, I challenge you to at least give it a try, so you can experience a different type of app interface.  Again, this app will hopefully draw your attention away from the "features" and instead towards your main goal "writing".

Ommwriter from Herraiz Soto on Vimeo.

Zenware, is only really in its very early stages.     I can see so much potential for single use applications which draw focus away from "features" and back onto "function".  What do you think?