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Taking it to the desktop
Believe it or not, I actually write for a living. I do about half my work on the Web using Google Docs, and the other half on my desktop using ... well, a number of applications.
For some of the things that I write, and some of the publications that I write for, I use a few simple templates. Instead of going through the whole process of starting an application and creating a new document from a template, I stumbled across an interesting way to do it on the Ubuntu desktop.
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Templates just a right-click away
A while back, I accidentally right-clicked on my desktop and saw a menu item labelled Create Document. The list had only one item -- Empty File, which creates an empty text file. Not incredibly useful. But it got me thinking.
I did a bit of probing, and found that if you create a folder called Templates in your /home directory, the files in that folder will appear in the right click menu.
So, I cobbled together a bunch of article templates in the following formats: AbiWord, OpenOffice.org Writer, LaTeX, Markdown, and plain text. Note that the files don't have to be true templates -- for example, AbiWord uses the extension .awt for templates. They should be normal documents, as I'll explain in a moment.
I then copied the templates into the Templates folder, and refreshed my desktop. To do the latter, I opened a terminal window and typed killall nautilus.
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Creating new documents from the template
When I need to write a new article, I just right click on the desktop and choose Create Document. I select the template that I want to use, and a new file appears on the desktop. the name of the file is highlighted. I just type a new name for the file.
Remember when I mentioned that you don't need to create a true template? That's because a copy of the template is created -- for example, another AbiWord .awt file. If you have a dedicated template, you're making a copy of the template and not a new document. Sure, you can save the file as, for example, and OpenOffice.org Writer file but why bother with that extra step?
The only thing I don't like is that I can't choose where to save the new documents. Other than that, it's a handy desktop trick. And you can use it with just about any kind of file.