Manuscripts: past, present and future.

It's now free, it will be open source, and we're hiring!

Seven years ago I realised I wanted to create a new way to communicate scientific research. This idea came to me when I was writing up my PhD thesis, so it was perhaps daydreaming symptomatic of a final-year grad student. Ultimately these dreams lead me to build Manuscripts; My brilliant brother Markus joined me for the several year long endeavor that would become our modern indie take on word processing for research documents, built from scratch, with a tiny two-member engineering team, and financial, design and moral support from Alex Griekspoor.

Years later, the desire to change how science gets communicated is still with me. That is why I am excited to tell you about the next chapter of Manuscripts. Openness is at the heart of it:

  1. Manuscripts 1.2.9 for Mac is and will remain free, effective immediately. Download it here.
  2. Manuscripts will be made Open Source in 2018, with version 2.0 developed in the open.
  3. I have secured a long term investment in the project that has allowed hiring an awesome development team to push the app further. We are looking for more full-time developers!

I believe that publishing tools must be open to support fundamental changes towards transparent, reproducible reporting of research that is web friendly. I am thrilled that the Manuscripts project will aim at this problem, with new resources to allow us to superpower our efforts!

What happens next?

It will take us time to complete the full team, to prepare the codebase and documentation into a shape that is friendly and supportive to a curious contributor. However, because this is a big and long term change, I wanted to be transparent with you about it at the outset! To pre-empt some of the questions we have already received:

  • Our focus with a larger core team is on further improving the reliability and performance of the app.
  • The native Mac app remains important to us. We continue to develop it (and we love it to bits!).
  • Our 2.0 open development efforts are about adding online collaboration, starting from annotating and writing. We have a novel take on this and you can expect to hear more about it in early 2018.

Opening the source code also means changing how we communicate. First and foremost, we want to focus on improving the support knowledgebase and providing visibility into our development plans and bug and feature request statuses. Our communication approaches will undoubtedly develop further based on your feedback, but for starters:

Private email support via of course remains available.

I hope that you are as excited as I am of where Manuscripts is headed next! I will continue posting about the project’s direction as things develop, but if you want to be involved in any form, or you’re interested in the full-time developer roles we are hiring for, please get in touch.

Thank you!