Devtome Ease of Use Improvements


Like many new writers to Devtome I am in love with the concept and spirit of Devtome and of Devcoins. Most writers have a special place in their heart for humanity and are naturally drawn to any system that will benefit society with open source technology. Although, like others, I have found myself facing some frustrations with the actual implementation of the writing, that is to say Devtome lacks some functionality when the rubber meets the road. This article is my humble attempt to identify some of the frustrations that an non-technical writer, like myself, encounters as they begin their journey in the Devtome world and to offer some ideas that could possibly be expanded upon by others with the technical talent to make them into more than just wishful thinking but into a useable product that would not only ease the way for people contributing to Devtome but also for the general public who we want utilizing it as well.


One of the biggest hurdles for me personally getting started with Devtome was just the sheer intimidation factor of using a specialized syntax. I first discovered Devtome in the beginning of November 2013, but I did not apply for an account until December 26, 2013, just because I had no experience with using a specialized syntax and fear of the unknown can be a powerful deterrent. It was only after asking questions in the forum that my fears were quelled by other writers. In all honesty, it has been extremely easy to pick up and the tutorials and help from members of the forum has been impressive, but I can only wonder how many quality writers we may have lost due to the same unspoken fears?

For me it was frustrating learning how to use the various forms of syntax and it slowed me down tremendously as well as breaking my writing grove to stop and look up how to add a picture or underline a word. I think it would be greatly beneficial for writers if a user interface could be implemented similar to other types of word processing programs that have formatting options and document control buttons in a control panel at the top of the document they are working on. This would allow for much easier use by writers and may attract new writers who may be shying away due to the wiki format.

You Only Get One Chance to Make a Good Impression

The next area I see as a candidate for improvement is the layout and functionality of the Devtome pages. In my opinion, the current layout seems too clinical or technical. I think Devtome would benefit from employing an open source system that would soften the appearance of the pages to make them easier to engage by readers of the articles. There are numerous open source tools available for publishing as can be seen here . The best layout could be developed by the technically talented and then a template of that chosen design could be used by the writers to generate articles. One of my favorite options is to incorporate a blog style layout and user functions similar to the open source blog program, WordPress . I think the ability to add themes and adjust the parameters of the overall layout would go a long way in making the pages easier on the eyes, thereby increasing viewer traffic. Another benefit of using a system similar to WordPress is it already contains the word processing formatting options and document controls many writers are familiar with. Another open source publishing tool that shows promise and offers a multitude of layout options is Scribus .

An additional benefit for using these types of open source blog-style layouts is the ability to place various types and sizes of ads within the content of the articles. I think the best way to accomplish this is to have a preset list of current advertisers that are linked to an “insert ad” button that would place advertisers within the content automatically based on their turn in the rotation of ads.

Help me, Help you

We are a community and the best way for a community to thrive is if the necessary burdens are carried in part by all. I truly believe this applies to the burdens placed upon the administrators as well. My suggestion to help ease the tasks delegated to the administrators is to place some of that burden on the writers who are benefiting by earning shares for their work.

My first suggestion for this would be to develop a check box style widget or add on that can be placed to the right, left, top, or bottom of the article creation page that lists the various categories available so that the writer can choose the proper place for his article. Although this might not solve all the categorization issues we are experiencing, it should alleviate much of the work load because the administrators would only have to scan new articles to ensure they are categorized properly and alter the mislabeled ones. Going along with this theme, a simple messaging system in place for all Devtome users would help facilitate corrections that needed to be made to articles. Shooting a short note to a writer to fix a category or add references would be much quicker for the administrators that going through the process of doing the corrections themselves.

My next idea deals with the potential problem with plagiarism. With a community offering the benefits of Devtome, it is a given that there are going to be attempts at plagiarism. The world is not perfect and there will always be people willing to sell their soul for a few coin. I can only imagine that this is an extremely time consuming task for the administration. Again, I feel this burden can be lighted with delegation. There are various open source programs to browse text for plagiarism and by creating a formatting button or document control button near the category check box that would automatically check for plagiarism could potentially save time by placing that burden, in part, back on the writers to check before they upload. A bonus benefit of this is that we would no longer have writers having excuses to why they submitted plagiarized work; they would know instantly that it was tainted and unusable. Another option is to write the command into the program so that when an article is uploaded, it automatically scans for plagiarism and then notifies the corresponding administrator as well as the contributing author. I prefer the first option due to its ability to place the responsibility for the work they are submitting on the writer’s shoulders.

Getting and Keeping Fans

I have spent numerous hours reading the various types of articles we produce and I am extremely proud of what we have to offer. In my opinion, we already have some of the best work I have read and it is in just about any category imaginable. I feel we have a little something for everyone. The trick now is to show that to the world! I think it is of utmost importance that we fix the problem with sharing our work on our personal Facebook pages. This can be an extremely powerful tool as any blogger can attest. I think that in time as we grow and self-promote our wares, the traffic will increase exponentially. Once they are here, how do we keep them here or how do we keep them coming back for more? The obvious answer is that we keep churning out quality, amazing work. Based on what I have read, that is not going to be a problem. I think one of the keys is to increase the amount of articles any given visitor might view. My favorite way of this being accomplished is by adding a widget at the bottom of each article that suggests five additional articles located within Devtome. They usually say something to the effect of “if you liked this article, you may also enjoy” and then the articles would be linked to the bottom of the page. Two of the suggested articles would be additional articles by the same author who wrote the original article to reward them for getting page views, and the other three would be to articles from other contributors compiled by keys words or phrases in the title and body of the article currently being read. I know this is already being done commercially with a program called . Of course it goes without saying that we would prefer and open source version of this.

I also am very fond of placing randomly generate articles on the homepage. I think it would ideal if half of the generated articles are of popular articles, to reward the writers for quality work, and the other half to articles with low view counts in an attempt to bolster visibility of all of our contributors. View counts do not always account for quality work.

Implementing portable readers for the Devtome articles would increase the likelihood of the articles getting read. The current development of an Android app is a crucial step in increasing the popularity of Devtome and Devcoin. Once it is up and running, it might be a good idea to add an article reading section to the existing app, this would increase the article views for the people who use Devcoins, and introduce Devcoins to people who may be reading the articles of Devtome on our site. I can foresee in the not too distant future where entire books, magazines, or even collections of books and magazines are on Devtome for the enjoyment of any one who downloads our app or visits our page. Having a reading section to the app would allow them to carry, and share, us anywhere they may travel.


If you made through all of my suggestions, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks. As anyone who reads my work can tell, I am just a writer, not a technical person at all, but I have the utmost admiration and respect for the programmers associated with Devcoin and Devtome. Without them we would have nothing to express our manic rants and dreams of grandeur. These are definitely just my own thoughts and opinions, but I hope that in some small way they could lead to the development of tools that would increase the functionality and readability of Devtome. I am definitely here for the long haul and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for us. With the talent we have at our disposal there is nothing we can’t implement.

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