Quoll Writer - A writing application that lets you focus on your words.
Java Other
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Quoll Writer is a desktop writing application, written in Java that is designed to allow you to focus on writing and your words. It removes standard word processing conventions such as margins, indents and formatting in favor of a simple interface that keeps you focussed on writing and improving your writing skills.

See the website for more details: http://quollwriter.com


The Quoll Writer code, that is everything under the src, data directories, are licensed under an Apache 2.0 license. The license is included in the repository and also can be found at: http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0.html


At least Java 1.7 is required to run Quoll Writer.

Ant is required to execute the build file.


To run Quoll Writer either use the default task or the command:

ant run


The following is a brief outline of the major directories and files in the repository.

  • data - directory containing the data files used by Quoll Writer such as properties and definitions.

  • data/prompts - directory containing the writing prompts.

  • data/schema - directory containing the schema definition files including the upgrade scripts and view definitions.

  • imgs - directory containing the images used throughout the application. Quoll Writer expects to use .png files for icons.

  • imgs/bgs - directory containing the background image files used in the Idea Board and full screen mode, generally these are jpgs.

  • src - directory where the java source code resides.

  • src/com/quollwriter - directory containing general classes. The Startup class has the main method and is called to start things up. It then passes responsibility onto the static method Environment.init which then decides what should be done (either start the last project or show the find/open window. Environment is the central hub controlling and tracking the various project viewer instances. It keeps track of which projects are open, it also handles the user and system properties.

  • src/com/quollwriter/ui - directory containing the UI classes. AbstractProjectViewer is the main class to be starting with.

  • src/com/quollwriter/db - directory containing the database classes. ObjectManager is the class that handles most of the db interactions. The various *Handler classes handle object specific actions, i.e. the ChapterDataHandler handles the columns and actions specific to the com.quollwriter.data.Chapter class. Each AbstractProjectViewer has a reference to an ObjectManager instance that manages a Project.

  • src/com/quollwriter/data - directory containing the data model classes. Project represents the "top-level" object used by the AbstractProjectViewer. The project is basically a tree of objects, with lists of Books, QCharacters, QObject's, ResearchItem's and IdeaType within the Project instance. Each Book then contains a list of Chapter's. Chapter then can contain Scene's and OutlineItem. Each of these objects extends from NamedObject which in turn extends from DataObject. Note's can be attached to any NamedObject. Note: eventually I'll convert the List instances to Sets.


The project information is held in a H2 database backed by a file store. By default project files are written to a sub-direcory of the projects directory in the users home directory, gained via System.getProperty ("user.dir"). The project name is used as a sub-directory within the projects directory. The user can specify the location where the project is stored, however the project name is still used as a sub-directory name.

For instance on Windows 7 using the default settings and a project name of "My New Project" the H2 db files would be stored in:

C:/Users/Me/QuollWriter/projects/my new project

The schema version is tracked using a property stored within the project itself. File: data/schema-version.txt contains the current version of the schema. When an existing project is opened the two versions are compared and any upgrade files executed. Upgrade files are stored in: data/schema/update-scripts. They are named X-Y.xml, where X is the from version and Y is to version. Thus if a project is currently at schema version 2 and the current version of Quoll Writer is using version 7 then files: 2-3.xml, 3-4.xml, 4-5.xml, 6-7.xml will be executed against the schema before the project is opened (if the files exist).

When a new project is created file: 0-1.xml is run.

After an upgrade data/schema/update-scripts/create-views.xml is always run to update the views.

The files defining the views used are held in: data/schema/views.


The current stable version of Quoll Writer is 2.4.

Note: only the master branch is supported for bug reports etc. Branches prefixed with dev- are for development of new releases and will contain unstable code that may damage your projects. It is not recommended that you use them without a detailed examination of the changes they contain. Also the dev- branches contain the latest changes so things are liable to change rapidly from commit to commit, use them at your own peril!

Windows Installer

The files for creating the Windows installer are not included in this repository.

For the binary release via the website, Inno Setup (http://www.jrsoftware.org/isinfo.php ) and WinRun4J (http://winrun4j.sourceforge.net/ ) are used.


I would dearly like to create versions for Linux/Mac but it won't happen for a while, it may not happen ever I'm afraid.

Supporting multiple platforms, contrary to what some people believe, is a soul destroying and tiresome task.

Some of the issues ahead are:

  1. Look-n-feel implementations for Java on Linux are pretty poor and it's difficult to get a nice one that would be compatible with the existing code. You can't just switch look-n-feel and hope for the best, especially not with the visual style Quoll Writer uses (I know I've tried).

  2. Mac has a couple of nice look-n-feels (for example Quaqua), however getting support across the various flavors of Mac is difficult. Also the Mac platform is positively hostile towards tabbed interfaces. The Mac UI guide recommends them only for configuration. However Quoll Writer currently makes heavy use of tabs. The reliance on tabs can be removed but it is quite a lot of work to do and time is against me at the moment.

  3. No menu bar. I imagine Mac users may have a fit about this one, also certain Linux distributions (Ubuntu for example) expect an application to have a menu bar. I understand this but my own opinion is that menu bars need to die off from applications. Mobile apps don't use them and most modern browsers don't either. They are an information hiding anacronism that rely on memorization for their functionality, they are hostile to feature discovery. They prevent you from using an application not facilitate it, don't believe me? Why do you think Microsoft invented the ribbon?

  4. Mouse triggers. Different platforms have different buttons that trigger different events. This is a complete break of the Java "write once, run anywhere" promise and Swing does not help you out with it. You can encapsulate yourself from it somewhat but there is always something you miss. Personally I don't have time to try and sort that out across 3 platforms.

  5. Macs are hostile to Java. I'm not convinced, now that Oracle are at the helm, that Java will be present on Macs for too much longer. Oracle are interested in Java as a middle-ware technology not the desktop. Also, the iOS/Mac ecosystems are becoming more closed down and controlled so there is little incentive for me to put effort into something that will probably disappear soon.

  6. Linux users tend to be Java averse on their desktops. Sorry guys but I hear too much "Java is slow", "Java is crap", "Java is pants compared to X". I personally don't find it to be true but I try hard not to write slow software.

  7. Mac users expect their software to have a similar look to their other software. Quoll Writer is very different to standard apps you see on a Mac and I won't be changing it to fit in with how Macs work.