My favourite thing about Graphite, the new blockchain-based Google Docs competitor, is that it’s so much faster. Docs used to be the lightweight alternative to MS Word; now it feels similarly slow and bloated. While I still use it for collaborative work, I’ve been leaning toward Apple’s Notes app in all my solo writing; it’s much faster but has some stupid design choices, such as a bad default font and bright yellow link text. (My second favourite thing about Graphite is that it looks crisp and handsome.)
Graphite is a web app for documents, spreadsheets, and an email alternative called “conversations”. Its creator Justin Hunter emphasises its security and privacy features: Graphite can store your documents on your own servers or on Blockstack, a recently released decentralised network that uses the blockchain to securely distribute encrypted data. As Hunter explains on Product Hunt, your data is encrypted on your computer before it’s sent to any servers. And unlike Google, Graphite never knows your password.
How to Get Graphite
The signup process is a little complicated: You’ll need to download an app for Blockstack and create an account, then log into Graphite with that account. But Graphite carries you through the process fairly simply. (Blockstack will ask you to pay some bitcoin to register a username; just skip that part.)
Graphite is already a solid alternative if you just want to edit your docs on multiple computers for free. It has all of the basic features from Google Docs and Word, such as autosave, rich text formatting, image and video embedding, and a live word count. But it comes without bloat and with a clean, web-first interface. You can easily print or export to a .doc file.
What Graphite Can’t Do
Graphite only works on the desktop, not on mobile. The service allows document collaboration, but we weren’t able to get it to work, at least not without paying that bitcoin for a username. Even if you manage to share a document, multiple users can’t edit it in real time.
Even without these features, Graphite might be my new choice for drafting short docs such as blog posts, especially as it’s likely to improve over time. If you want to start fresh with a new word processor, and you’re willing to experiment with a nerdy system, try it out.
Graphite [Home page]