Introducing Zen: Distraction-free writing for WordPress

I’m excited to announce the release of Zen v1.0, a plugin for WordPress that brings the much beloved idea of distraction-free writing to the WordPress admin.

I provided a sneak peek of the plugin a few weeks ago, and after some fine tuning a lot of awesome changes, Zen is finally ready for prime-time.

If you can’t wait till the end of this post, download it directly from WordPress (under Plugins > Add New, search for “Zen”) or grab it from the WordPress Plugins Directory.

What is Zen?

In a nutshell, Zen is a distraction-free environment for WordPress.

If you’re a fan of WriteRoom, OmmWriter, or similar tools that help you focus on your words instead of the tools you’re using, this plugin will soon make your wildest dreams come true (and give you a simple clean environment within WordPress to write to your heart’s content)! While Zen does not replace the existing Edit Post/Page screen, it provides a layer on top that will help you focus more on the quality of your words and less on the distracting fine-tuning of minuscule details.

I’ve got a quick breakdown of the plugin and it’s features below.

Zen Mode

Zen adds a handy-dandy little button right above the publish module that toggles Zen mode (you can also use the keyboard shortcut listed below).

Zen mode includes a textboxes for the title and content, save and publish buttons below them, and a close button on the top left.

To leave Zen mode, click on the close button or use the keyboard shortcut below.

The content textbox is a basic textbox without the Visual and HTML editors. Initially, this was because of an issue with the HTML editor, but it’s become more of a conscious choice since it keeps with the whole mantra of distraction-free writing. If you think that it would be worthwhile to include the Visual and HTML editors, let me know, and I’ll consider it.

Yes, you can write in HTML in the textbox.

And yes, autosave still works in Zen mode, so you can rest assured that WordPress will chug away in the background to keep your writing safe as you work on that next great blog post.

Zen Settings

Settings for Zen are accessible via Users > Your Profile. At this point, you can specify whether Zen should automatically open when you go to Add or Edit a Post or Page and your preferred theme. I’m considering adding the option to include additional modules (Categories and Post Tags) in Zen mode as well.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Zen has simple keyboard shortcuts to help you get the most out of Zen:

z – enters Zen mode
q – exit Zen mode
t – switch theme

Note: the keyboard shortcuts do not work while you’re writing in one of the textboxes. This is something I’m hoping to change in a future release.

Themes

Zen comes prepackaged with 5 themes:

  • Zen Light
  • Zen Dark
  • Zen Papyrus
  • Zen Papyrus Lite
  • Zen Terminal

You can specify which theme you prefer under Zen Settings and Zen will automatically open with that theme enabled. You can easily switch between themes while in Zen mode using the “t” key. If you switch between themes, Zen will autosave your preference and load that next time you go into Zen mode.

What Now?

I’d love to add more themes to Zen, and have a few potentials lined up that I’ll release over the coming weeks. However, I’d really, love to see your theme ideas implemented as well. If you’d like to contribute a theme or have an idea for a theme, you should contact me.

If you have any features you’d like to see in Zen or found bugs that are driving you insane, you should contact me

Thanks

Thanks go out to:


Seen enough and just can’t wait to get your Zen on? Download it directly from WordPress (under Plugins > Add New, search for “Zen”) or grab it from the WordPress Plugins Directory.

P.S. Yes, this post was entirely (except for adding images) written in Zen mode, and it was fantastic. My current themes of choice are Zen Terminal and Zen Papyrus Lite.

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12 Responses to Introducing Zen: Distraction-free writing for WordPress

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  2. Mike Smith says:

    Looks really nice. For those writers who use wordpress and have custom fields to fill out as well as other tasks like adding tags, categories, images as they go along, it might not be for them – but I’m definitely going to try it out and see how it works. Thanks for creating it.

    • Thanks Mike. I was originally considering including some of the post editing boxes such as categories, tag, custom fields, but realized that would somewhat defeat the purpose of the plugin.

      The way I envision it being used is people use Zen to focus on their writing and once done, they can use the regular view to add custom fields, images, and so on.

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