Back when my niece Olivia was eight years old, her family got a new Mac after years of using Windows. They loved it, but missed a particular kid-friendly writing program they had been using on the PC. When I failed to find a similar program, I sat down and wrote one for them. I named it “OK-Writer,” after my niece’s initials. She loved that program, and over time I fiddled with it and added features to it.
Its big features, from a kid-friendly standpoint, are that it offers big fun buttons for styling text (using a few fun fonts, colors, and styles) and for tasks like printing and the like. Each button plays a silly sound effect when pressed (although you can turn this off in the preferences). It takes away concerns about page layout and stuff by rewrapping text to fit the page width, no matter what the child has done. And, a few versions in, I added some neat speech features for automatically reciting letters, words, or sentences as they’re typed.
Over the years, the program has been bought by a number of parents, but even more teachers and in one case an entire school district; I offer site licenses for both individual schools and entire districts.
Today I got a nice email from a nursery school that bought OK-Writer some years ago. While the main point of the email was a contact information update, it also included some nice remarks about how they still love the program and use it all the time. That sure makes me feel good!
I’m really proud of it, even though it’s a fairly simple piece of software. That I’ve created something being used to teach kids and encourage them to enjoy writing is a great feeling. Even better is knowing that some people are using it with blind children (and even grownups) because of its unique speech features.
That’s pretty darned awesome.
I’m working on a new version now. It’s not a huge update, although it does fix a few bugs, and it adds new retina-quality icons. And I have some nice plans for future improvements, too. It’s a fun project to work on, and that it’s making a difference for some people is a lovely bonus!