This is the first of a three-part interview with Nathan Kontny. Follow him @natekontny .
Nathan Kontny is out to revise how you write, especially when you work with others. His online word processing program, Draft boasts features you can’t find in any other wordprocessor–like a professional editing service, for example. We began this PW exclusive interview via email. But in what might be the first time ever, we decided to switch to using the very tool he was being interviewed about, and write the rest of it on Draft. You can see where we switched below. I wrote a question; he submitted his answer as a change to my document. Later, I used Draft’s export tool on a sidebar to do an HTML export for publication.
Programmableweb – Word processing is getting cheaper by the day. Features are proliferating. And it’s a business populated by giant competitors with deep pockets What made you decide to take them on?
Nathan Kontny – Personal necessity.
I really like to write. I like to blog. It’s why I get up in the morning. Someone sent me an email this morning about how a blog post of mine encouraged them to finally do a project he’d been putting off for a year. It wasn’t perfect, but it became part of his portfolio. And it got him two interviews, then finally a new job this summer.
I love that feeling of helping people with my blog. So I keep writing.
18 months ago, I started writing on the SVBTLE blog network. And it was important to me to get better. One way in which I write is to simply “Write drunk; edit sober.” As Hemingway may have said.
Not literally. But I create the worst first draft I possibly can. Then I stop. Take a break. Then I go back to it, and edit it into something good. And that takes a lot of versioning. So I was dumping all these drafts of my blog posts into an Evernote note. For one blog post, I’d have this enormous note, with a dozen drafts of the same blog post, just so I don’t lose any of it. That’s a really terrible versioning workflow.
And Git, a popular version control system for software developers, is awesome. But it’s too complicated out of the box for writing.
So I had to make Draft just to deal with my frustration. Google and Microsoft weren’t doing it, so I had to try something.
And on and on, I study the tasks I have as a writer and a blogger, and I find the tools from all the competitors are too generic to actually help me get better as a writer or do my job, so I have to build something. Like on-demand copy-editing. Or one-click publishing to all these places like Twitter, LinkedIn, or MailChimp.
As you point out though, I’m small compared to these competitors. That’s why I use the typeface I do in Draft. Futura. “The underdog font.” – Aaron Draplin :)
PW – Thank you. What if we switched and conducted the rest of interview in Draft?
We can switch back to email if it doesn’t work.
NK – That would be awesome. Thank you for bringing it up!
[Before continuing, below is what this looks like as my question followed by his answer, which I then accept as a change to my document.]
PW – I see you have an API. If it’s in use, what are the more interesting integrations you have seen? Want to suggest some?
NK – Ah, yes, I just released the API and WebHooks last week. So I’ve heard of people wanting to use it to create native apps for Android and iOS, but it’s too early to see them in the wild yet. Both of those would be really cool and I know people are hungry for them.
I’m really excited about the WebHook feature. People are using Draft to write all sorts of different content, and I’ve added a handful of places you can natively publish that content to: MailChimp, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. But for those places I haven’t added yet, the WebHook url allows developers to tap into the Publish button. So now people are writing publishing mechanisms to places like Drupal or their own custom blog software. But again, since it was just released, I don’t have any good examples I can point to just yet.
Part 2 of 3 parts, on features and inspiration will be featured tomorrow.