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InfoQ Homepage News JetBrains Launches IntelliJ-Based Writing Tool WriterSide

JetBrains Launches IntelliJ-Based Writing Tool WriterSide

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With WriterSide, JetBrains aims to allow developers and writers to create technical documentation using a write, test, build workflow. The new tool is based on IntelliJ-platform IDEs and has been used to create most of JetBrains products' documentation for the last few years.

This project developed out of hundreds of customer interviews and 10+ years of working on the IntelliJ Platform documentation. These experiences gave us a long list of features to build and problems to solve.

One of the key goals of WriterSide is enabling effective collaboration among developers and writers and bridging the gap between them. It enforces a "doc as code" pipeline based on development tools like Git, pull reviews, and automated checks to make it possible for the whole team to contribute, review, and track changes as they are used to do with code. This, according to JetBrains, simplifies the documentation pipeline.

WriterSide supports both Markdown and a custom XML-based markup and allows authors to combine both formats in the same document. This makes it possible to inject semantic attributes into a Markdown document to enrich it, for example. Conversely, WriterSide also supports translating Markdown fragments into XML on the fly and import them into an XML document.

WriterSide is able to perform over 100 built-in tests, such as tests for broken links, missing resources, incorrect attribute values, and so on. Tests can be customized for in-house spelling and style conventions. The tool also offer predefined designs that can be easily customized so authors will not need to deal with layout and CSS.

Since authors are required to write XML or Markdown, WriterSide includes a live preview feature that reflects instantly every change and highlights any errors. This is especially useful when there is no access to the CI/CD pipeline or for longer builds, so it is possible to check the output without waiting for them to finish.

As a final note about WriterSide features, it provides an AI-based spellchecker and a grammar correction built by JetBrains supporting over 25 languages.

WriterSide is available as a plugin for JetBrains IDEs and as a stand-alone application under an Early Access Program (EAP). The product is completely free for the duration of the EAP, but JetBrains promised they will have a free version or an ongoing EAP to allow using the tool for free.

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