Ok, This was a "here's an old project I've abandoned" type post, but after some interest in the matter I'm re-opening this for questions... Syntax highlighting for writers: what do you think? Yay, or nay?
When you have a brilliant idea for a start-up, you mock up a prototype and show your intended audience. They'll be over the moon with excitement, and start paying for your service immediately. Word of mouth will grow, and before you know it you'll have a million users and you'll have so much money that you might become a tiny bit happier.
That's how it's supposed to go. Here's a project I started that fell down in the "prototype user-testing phase", documented here for prosperity. It's an english language syntax highlighter for writers of prose (and the sort). Here's the demo (select a colour-theme from the dropdown menu and imagine it's you typing, instead of robo-Jane Austin):
"What are those colours?" You might be wondering (especially if you didn't pay much attention to english class when you were a kid, as I didn't). Why, apparently those - those are "nouns", and "adjectives", and "verbs", and "pronouns" and such. Yes, finally the tedium of plain text is broken! Such joy it will bring to bored novellists everywhere. Had Jane Austin access to syntax highlighting, she would have written like, 10 books. No doubt!
The system works by performing a natural-language analysis on sentences as they are typed by the user. Words are marked up with their type and colourised accordingly.
At least, that was the idea. But I asked a handful of writers what they thought of it, and they all said it was bloody stupid. I unleashed a string of colourful adjectives at them, but they failed to change their opinion. Ah well.