The Literary Machine is creativity software that helps you assemble and develop texts and ideas in a database. In other words, it is a tool kit for the front-end of word processing. As such, LM fills a great void in the software universe.
It leaves the back-end of word processing to traditional word processors and desktop publishers. LM Pro does not spell-check, or grammar-check text. Also, its HTML output automates the text-formatting of headers, captions, and references, but LM leaves the rest of text-formatting and layout to your conventional word processor. So, use LM as a tool to carve out your masterpiece. Then port the final draft to your favorite word processor for polishing.
LM features integration with an excellent productivity booster, FlashPeak's UltimaShell Autocompletion Server (UAS). It is a smart autocompletion and shorthand-expansion utility that is free for use within LM. UAS automatically learns and completes words and phrases as you type. It supports multiple language vocabularies, professional libraries, and custom shorthand libraries.
Learn more about UAS in LM Pro Help and at the FlashPeak Web site: www.flashpeak.com/ushell/uas.htm. For system-wide autocompletion and advanced features, look into UltimaShell Professional.
The Wordweb program from the famous WordNet project at Princeton University is tightly integerated in the LM Pro text menus.
WordWeb Pro is a quick and powerful international English thesaurus and dictionary for Windows. It can be used to lookup words, showing definitions, synonyms and related words. There are also many proper nouns and examples of usage. You can search for words matching a pattern, find and solve anagrams, and optionally search a large number of extra word lists.
Unlike any paper dictionary or thesaurus WordWeb is truly a Word Web - each set of synonyms is linked to other related sets. Lookup "tree", click on the "Types" tab and you'll have a list of different types of tree. Click on "Part of" and WordWeb will tell you that a tree can be part of a "forest" or "wood".
Use WordWeb from menus inside LM Pro to get the best technical integration.
LM relies heavily on the Windows clipboard (through the
universal shortcuts Ctrl+C, Ctrl+X, and Ctrl+V). Programs that
improve the clipboard are a great help. For example,
Yankee Clipper III (freeware) logs and saves everything you copy to the
clipboard — a fine extra service to use with LM.
LM can create files from database information, files you can then open in, say, Notepad and print. But LM creates only two types of files: plain text (TXT) files and Web-page (HTML) files. So, as mentioned at the top, you usually port the document out-put by LM into another word processor for polishing.
On the other hand, for editing text within the database (i.e., on Item cards), LM can use a another text-editing program as a helper application. The default "helper text editor" is Windows Notepad, but you can choose a different program to play this role. One that, perhaps, spell-checks!
Since this "helper text editor" is used within LM, it should not be a high-powered word processor with lots of fancy desktop publishing features. It should be small and fast. It must be able to open a plain-text file on one click. Most word processors do, but notable exceptions are WordPerfect and RoughDraft. WordPerfect requires two clicks, because it pops up a dialog box with a question in it for you to answer. And Rough Draft just simply won't open a plain-text file. For more information see LM Pro Help.
Searches don't find misspelled instances of a word, so it
makes sense to have a Helper Text Editor that spell-checks. Even
some free ones do. There is, however, an alternative worth
considering: Use an application that spell-checks on the Windows
clipboard. Download from the Files section of the Yahoo Literary Machine Group.
Use a handheld computer to input your text with preliminary keywords supplied. The TXT2LM program updates LM as a part of the synchronization operations. Go to: The Literary Machine Group message #398
An even better method to import LM text items (with concepts and project name) is "Utilities > Import Text As Outline". See: Export texts from a Mobile Phone/PDA - Message #1438
This message also reminds about the LM EBook feature: LM can transform outlines to complete EBooks. Team LM with Mobipocket, which produces eBooks both for PDAs and Microsoft Reader.
You can read or dictate notes into Voice Recognition Software and port the generated text into LM. You can even get TAPE-RECORDED notes into LM this way.
For example, Dragon NaturallySpeaking integrates well with word processors like Microsoft Word™ and Corel WordPerfect™. If you take the time to train it, the program is very accurate. You can copy generated text from the NaturallySpeaking window to the clipboard and open a new LM item with it inserted. Or, NaturallySpeaking can save your generated text as a plain-text or rich-text file. Then you can drag that file into a blank LM item. To import the file piecemeal, use the Text Import Wizard while LM is minimized to the System Tray.
Not all tape-recorders are clear enough for voice recognition, so if you're going to tape-record notes for conversion to text, your best bet is to purchase a VR package with a mobile recording package included.
Do you have old notes in hard copy moldering away? Scan the pages into your computer and use optical character recognition (OCR) software to generate plain text files. Then import this text to LM via the clipboard, as a plain-text file, or using the Text Import Wizard.
For its browser to function, LM requires a helper Web browser. Internet Explorer, Opera, another I.E.-compatible browser, or Netscape 4x will do.
The browser LM uses inside its Project window is a component
of MS Internet Explorer. Consequently, a basic Windows/Internet
Explorer installation must live on your computer, even if you use
Opera or Netscape for regular browsing.
LM Pro outlines as well as other popular outliners. MS Word imports HTML-formatted LM-outlines, reading the tree structure correctly in its outline mode. Future versions of LM Pro will contain direct import and export of outlines from other programs with public data formats.
LM Outlines can be converted to MindManager™ or MindGenius™ maps
Use this method:1) Save the outline as HTML in LM. (Do not use a stylesheet).
Use LM to get new ideas. Use graphic presentation tools to navigate
between fixed ideas. In other words, use LM on a blank page, and
use other programs to map the way from Point A to Point B
without digressing or omitting anything. They structure your
thinking within a box, free from contradictions and dialectics.
For example, use them to compose an argument persuading others to
agree with your stand on some issue. But beforehand, use LM to
arrive at that stand.
Though LM can store a great amount of data, its aim is different from that of other database programs. It is a creativity tool, not a bottomless pit for extensive research from other sources. Since those two aims are at odds with each other in marshaling your computer's resources, no one program can be optimized for both. So, if you need LM's processing power plus vast cold storage area, you should consider using multiple databases (stored as separate zipped backups), using multiple instances of LM, or using some other program to handle the storage part of the job. For that, Zoot, Infohandler, or AskSam could be your choice.
Here are notes on two more Helper applications: Clipcache: this is the greatest of the Helper programs on my computer (you can find it at http://www.xrayz.co.uk/clipcache/?page=default). Clipcache is an extended Copy buffer with an full set of text massaging features. I leave it on all the time and that way collect text and images from all sources during a work session and later put them into files or into LMPro. It lets me collect all Desktop dumps made in LM and keep as many as I wish so that it has replaced Book Mode in my operations. It cleans up email text, cleans and launches URLs, and performs many other housekeeping duties. I am always storing words in it as I use the thesaurus (Wordweb of course-- absolutely invaluable and free!) or various dictionaries. Clipcache has become a seamless part of my work with LMPro and I have come to think of it as being part of the program. (Because it stores everything you can use it to track your own work as well.)
The other great aid for my work is Jot+, a conventional outliner available from http://www.kingstairs.com/. Jot+ is where I keep my research materials and any other structured information. Clipcache lets me move easily from Jot+ over to LMPro (which is the usual direction) and into my text processor (I used Ultraedit for all my writing). With LMPro and ClipCache, Jot+ and my textprocessor, and more recently Eve for SVG graphics, and two monitors to display it all on, I feel like I have achieved (at last) a viable writing environment.