Hiveword Blog

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Hiveword Redesign

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on February 17, 2018 2:13 pm

You may have noticed that it’s been unnaturally quiet around here. There’s been a dearth of new feature announcements, tweets, blog and Facebook posts, etc. What’s going on?

Hiveword newsletter subscribers know what’s going on. Be sure to subscribe to the newsletter if you want the freshest news.

I suppose the title of this post is a spoiler but today I’m going to talk about the long overdue Hiveword redesign. What follows is the content from a past newsletter describing the changes.



In the last newsletter I mentioned the Hiveword redesign that is underway. In this edition I have some screenshots for you!

My goal with the redesign is to make Hiveword prettier, mobile-ready, streamlined, and more amenable to adding new features without having to bolt things on like some sort of novel organizer Frankenstein.

Let’s consider the scene page. In Hiveword, the scene is THE central component and where I suspect that most people spend the majority of their time. Here’s how the scene page looks today:

Ouch. That’s what you call a screen only a design-challenged programmer could love. To its credit, it is easy to figure out how to use, busy though it may be.

Here’s the new scene page:

Now, you won’t mistake this page for something designed by Apple but I hope you’ll agree that it’s considerably easier on the eyes. Plus, there are some huge changes here. The screen is now divided into three sections: story navigation, core details, and metadata. Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Story Navigation Section

In the current Hiveword design, the story navigation is presented horizontally at the top. There is no room for expansion. If you’re a Hiveword Plus user you’re blessed with a SECOND level of navigation as seen in the first screenshot. This needed fixing. Desperately.

Here’s the new story navigation section:

This section will appear on all story component pages such as scenes, characters, etc. The vertical orientation provides room to grow. Plus, the sections stay open between pages however you have them set.

For Hiveword Plus users, your custom types are now seamlessly embedded in the story navigation. In the screenshot, Spells is a custom type and Patronus is a definition of a spell.

Because each item is a link it’s easy to get to wherever you need to go. The little list icon in the section headers takes you to the list page of that thing (such as the scenes list page).

Main Section

The next section contains the fields for the story component (i.e., scene, character, etc.).

The main section offers a much cleaner look and is straightforward. The Save and Delete buttons do what you’d expect. Notes and Images are Hiveword Plus features and will work like before. That is, they’ll pop open in their own embedded sections of the page. You can change the scene name by clicking on it. This is also the same as the existing design.

Miscellaneous functionality is now in the Actions dropdown:

Metadata Section

Finally, we come to the third section which is component metadata:

There’s a lot of scene metadata since scenes are so important. The other story components won’t have so much information. But, again, you can see that things are now vertical which allows for expansion. Plus, choosing the POV, setting, and characters in the scene is now much easier and requires less clicking. For example, click on the Plotline section and you’ll get a popup which makes selection easy:

The other bits of metadata work the same way.


I’ve mentioned multiple times that going vertical helps with usability and expansion. It also helps immensely on mobile devices since they don’t have enough space to accommodate wide horizontal menus. With the new design, the left and right sections will auto-hide when there’s not enough screen real estate like this:

Simply click on the arrows to slide in the section and then dismiss it when done.

I’m really excited about this redesign because not only does it look better but it gives Hiveword room to grow in terms of both visuals and technology. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you when the new design will be available because, well, I don’t know. 😉 There is SO much to do…



So, there you go. Now you know that there’s a huge redesign effort underway.

Do you like what you’re seeing so far? Any wishes or other feedback? Hit me up in the comments below or via the various other methods you can find here.

Time for me to get back to work!




Higher Gear

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on November 26, 2017 2:57 pm


In biking, the lowest gear is called “granny gear” or simply “granny.” This gear is so easy to pedal that it pretty much requires no work. However, you won’t get anywhere fast when you’re in granny gear even though your legs are spinning like mad.

(Now, my apologies if you are a real granny but this term did not come about because of grannies like you, of course! 😉 )

Since I got my new bike last year (pictured), I find myself riding a higher gear than I used to on my previous bike, Old Yeller. Old Yeller was a much harsher ride than my new bike, Black Betty (bam ba lam). By the way, you get extra points for knowing the Black Betty reference.

Anyway, back to my story…

Black Betty is a dream to ride. It’s SO easy. Effortless, almost, especially compared to Old Yeller when after a ride I would feel like I had been jumped and beaten by a band of merciless woods pirates or something. And while I’m not in granny gear I did find a sweet spot where I can just cruise all day. But, I noticed a problem: I wasn’t getting stronger.

I ride for several reasons: stress relief, exercise, change of pace, etc. But as a form of exercise if I just sit in “easy” gears then I won’t get any stronger. So, I’ve made a conscious decision to use a higher gear than I ordinarily would. Then, when I get used to that gear, go up a gear again. Each shift upward in gears makes things a little harder but that’s how I’ll get stronger in terms of both leg strength and cardiovascular conditioning

Then I got to thinking, what else in my life can I apply this concept to? Programming, relationships, learning something new… Whatever it is, I’ll get better at it or perhaps get more fulfillment if I just upshift. Just one step — it doesn’t have to be a huge leap — and I’ll get better incrementally over time. It’s a bit of a mental game, too, since one little gear doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

I know, I know… All of this is common sense. But, sometimes I need reminders, common sense or not.

Is there something in your life where upshifting would make you stronger/better?




Right Now, Now, Now

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on October 22, 2017 8:05 am

The following is part of my Mountain Biker Musings collection. I use a biking metaphor here but I think it applies to any endeavor. I hope you like it.

You’re slogging up a long hill
Notice your heart pounding
You’re alive
Right now

Right now you’re on the hill
The next now you’re still on the hill but a little farther
All of the little nows add up to…

Keep plugging away up that hill
Every position is right now
Hey, you’re doing great right now!
How about one more now?
It’s not so hard to be there right now

One more pedal stroke and, well, look at that, it’s now!
This isn’t so bad at all
And before you know it, you’re now at the top of the hill
Right now





“My Types” Menu Improvements

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on September 6, 2017 6:39 pm

Things have really been buzzing in the Hive of late. My previous posts described several new features:

In this post I’ll describe some improvements to the “My Types” menu. It’s not terribly exciting like the last two features but I think it is a nice usability change.

Here’s what’s changed:

  • The number of custom types is now in parentheses
  • Types are sorted
  • The list scrolls (as opposed to having one long list)
  • There’s a quick link to manage types
  • Removed the submenus in favor of inline icons

If you have Hiveword Plus (the upgrade to the free Hiveword plan with a two week trial) then you know about Custom Types and Fields. With this capability you can add your own fields to characters, scenes, etc., and you can also add new things (types) to track such as Spells, Spaceships, etc. When you define a custom type you get to add all of the fields you want to describe it.

Once defined, you add an instance of your custom type to the story via the “My Types” menu. Here it is in collapsed view:

You can see that it’s right there with the other type menus such as Scenes. You can also see that there are two types defined.

Upon clicking “My Types” it will open up:

Now we can see the two sorted custom types, Spells and Wands. There are two spells defined in the story but no wands yet. This part hasn’t changed but the other parts of the expanded menu are new.

The “Manage types and fields” menu item takes you to the Custom Types and Fields management page. This saves a click because before you’d have to click on the Dashboard link or Hiveword logo to get to the Dashboard page and from there select the “Types and Fields” menu. Too much work! 😉 Now, you can get there easily.

There are now three icons for each type: Add, List, and Sort. Clicking on one will do that function assuming it’s not disabled (grayed out). Before, these functions were accessible via a third-level menu which required too much dexterity. It’s much easier now.

Finally, the entire list will scroll, if necessary, rather than having an extremely long dropdown menu. In this example, no scrolling is necessary because there are only two types.

I hope you find this tweak to be more user-friendly than before. As usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this or anything Hiveword-related. Thanks to Darren B. for making many of the suggestions for the changes mentioned in the last several posts.



Custom Field Descriptions

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on September 5, 2017 6:47 pm

In my previous post I talked about the icon on the right below and that it toggles the default Hiveword fields off and on if you have custom fields. I also teased the new icon to the left of it. These new icons appear on the edit pages for characters, scenes, etc.

This post is about the icon on the left. This icon toggles the display of custom field descriptions if any are provided. The icon won’t appear if there are no custom fields with descriptions. The show/hide description toggle works like the show/hide custom fields icon next to it: namely, the setting is remembered across sessions.

Here’s a screen of custom fields with descriptions turned off:

By clicking the little document icon you can turn on descriptions. Here’s an example:

Whoa. There’s a lot happening here:

  • Text-only categories
  • A category description
  • A field description
  • A field without a description

Let’s start with the simple field description. The field “Little text” has the clever description “Here’s a description.” This is the most obvious use of field descriptions since it applies directly to a field and explains it in more detail. For example, if the field was called “Range” the description might be “How far (in feet) the character’s psionic abilities are effective.”

The field “Little text” is in a category called “Bunch O’ Fields.” Who names these things?! 😉 Categories are logical groupings of related fields. You can see that the category as a whole can have a description that encompasses all of the fields within it.

Finally, the Intro and Outro categories demonstrate that you can arbitrarily place text-only sections. Note that in the screenshot without descriptions the Intro and Outro are not displayed. The reason is that they are pure description (that is, the categories have no fields) so they get hidden.

These text-only categories can be anything you want. For example:

  • Overall description
  • A checklist of things to do
  • Whatever clever thing you conceive

Field descriptions are optional. I recommend keeping your field names short and using the description to explain it in further detail if it warrants explanation.

If you’ve used custom fields before you know that you’ve always had the option to add descriptions where the fields are defined. What’s new here is that the descriptions are used right within the page where the custom fields are being used such as a character page or within your own custom type.

If you haven’t used custom fields before, there’s a Fields Management page that allows you to edit your custom fields. Here’s an example:

This set of custom field definitions matches the screenshots above.

The field description capability discussed here is part of the Custom Types and Fields feature available in Hiveword Plus which is the upgrade to the free Hiveword plan. There’s a 14 day free trial so you can try it with no risk.

I hope you like this new feature. I’d love to here your ideas for how you plan on using it!




Show/Hide Factory Fields

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on September 4, 2017 6:27 am

In Hiveword Plus you can add custom fields to the “factory” or default types such as scenes, characters, etc. Your custom fields display above the factory fields under the assumption that, since you added them, they must be pretty important.

Here’s an example of some custom fields on the character page:

The “Bunch O’ Fields” section is custom, obviously, and the default fields start with the Basic section.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Hiveword Plus user Darren B. has taken Hiveword’s customizability to stratospheric heights: he’s done a full replacement of Hiveword’s fields. (As an aside, I don’t recommend duplicating fields that Hiveword already has. The reason is that, as a developer, I know what the default fields are for and will likely use them in innovative ways in the future. If they’ve been duplicated as custom fields I don’t know what they are and can’t use them.)

Since Darren’s done a full replacement he doesn’t want to see the Hiveword fields that he’ll never use. So, there’s now a way to hide the factory fields. Each factory type (i.e., characters, scenes, etc.) screen now has some new icons:

The icon that looks like a piece of paper will be the subject of my next post but clicking the factory icon will toggle the factory fields off and on. This setting will be remembered for all types and across sessions so you can set it and forget it. Furthermore, the icon will only appear if there are custom fields.

When the factory fields are hidden, the only thing you’ll see is custom fields like this:

To my knowledge, no other novel organizer offers this level of flexibility. Besides custom types and fields, the Hiveword Plus upgrade offers the ability to add notes and images to everything, a journal, and the ability to search everything. It has a 14 day trial so you can kick the tires. Try it today!




More show/hide capabilities

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on September 3, 2017 9:05 am

Quiescent. What a fun word. Quiescent is what this blog has been over the summer. But, as everybody knows, winter is coming so I have a flurry of blog posts planned about recent additions to Hiveword.

Today I’m going to talk about the new show/hide details toggle on list views. While this feature won’t save the world it will reduce scrolling for serious Hiveword users.

Previously, only the story, scene, and chapter lists had a summary/details toggle. Those lists try to convey a lot of information at once and the toggle on those pages is for adding data (the summary, actually) to each row. These toggles have not changed.

The remaining list pages are for characters, settings, items, and plotlines. These lists now have a toggle to hide information. Why? Because if you have a lot of these things the list can get very long which requires you to scroll to find the character, setting, or whatever it is that you are looking for. Hiding the details compresses the list.

The following screenshot snippet shows the toggle which appears above the lists:

If you’re a Hiveword Basic (the free plan) user then the problem is most evident on the character list page. You’re likely to have a lot of characters and if you’ve filled in a bunch of fields the details column can make the rows fairly tall which means more scrolling. Hiding the details will compress the rows.

Here’s an example from the sample story with details on:

When the details are hidden the list will get shorter:

If you’re a Hiveword Plus user the problem can be even worse if you’ve added custom fields to the characters, for example. In Hiveword Basic, only a subset of character fields are displayed in the details column. Hiveword Plus users see this data along with any custom fields they’ve added under the assumption that a custom field must be important. Hiveword has no way of knowing. So, with custom fields, the rows can get really tall.

This feature and the forthcoming ones that will be described in my next three posts were requested by Hiveword Plus user Darren B. He has hundreds of custom fields and more than a hundred custom types! Holy cow! While Hiveword Plus was designed for this sort of customization, Darren’s volume has exposed some usability issues that needed tweaking. Stay tuned for what those are…




List View Updates

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on May 30, 2017 6:48 am

Hiveword user Matt N. requested that extension fields be included on the various list views. This feature is now live and affects both the basic and Plus versions of Hiveword.

First of all, what do I mean by “extension fields?”

Hiveword Plus has a feature called Custom Fields and Types. A better name might be Custom Templates. To my knowledge, this level of customizability is unique to Hiveword. Anyway, with this feature you can create new classes of things to track such as spells, spaceships, etc. But, you can all extend the factory types such as scenes, characters, etc. For example, you could add “Date” and “Scene Purpose” fields to the scene detail page if you wanted.

Prior to today’s change, you wouldn’t see your two new fields on the scene list view. Now you can!

Scene list

As you can see in the screenshot, the data for Date and Scene Purpose is shown when the fields are filled in. (For scenes, the summary field has been displayed for a while. That was also Matt’s idea. 😉 )

The same treatment applies to the other built-in types. Take characters, for example:

Here, the custom field is Role and the character Hismione has an entry for it. You can see how the custom and factory fields are seamlessly displayed together.

While doing this work I revamped some things for consistency. These changes may affect you even if you are not a Hiveword Plus user. For example, the story list page now allows you to optionally display the story summary in the list. Another example is the settings list. It used to have columns for City, State, and Country. Now, there is one column but the data is displayed in a fashion consistent with the other lists. So, if you never supply data for the State field, space will not be taken up with the placeholder for it.

I hope you like these tweaks. I think the changes are nice because it concisely presents relevant information without having to drill down to details all the time. Thanks for the idea, Matt!

What do you think?




Top WKB Websites for 2017

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on May 18, 2017 9:00 pm

There are over 4,000 unique websites represented in the WKB. That’s a lot! The ones that have the most articles are something special. So, for fun, I’m running a countdown of the top 10 sites at Check it out!



Mountain Biker Musings

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on 11:47 am

The next time you’re in nature:

Be quiet.
Stand up straight and close your eyes.
Listen to the wind in the leaves.
The birds.
The bugs.
And think for a moment that all of that was here before you were.
And all of it will be here when you’re gone.
But right now, you’re the variable.
The wildcard.
The ripple in the pond.
Make a difference.