The programs do the same thing. The create a simple screen, devoid of user interface and formatting options that allows you to just sit and write. Provided, of course, that you have the temporal luxury to sit and write.
WriteRoom however, has the advantage of an autosave (every five seconds) and multiple rooms. You can have up to ten rooms open at a time, each a different project, and they’ll all be saved once you close and open up the app again. In this respect, it turns your five pound PowerBook G4 into an AlphaSmart Neo with a larger screen.
A word on rooms. You can have ten rooms open at a time. Each room can be a different project, for instance, room 1 can be a blog entry, room 2 can be a flash fiction submittal for 365tomorrows.com, etc. Their contents are saved every five seconds. When you close WriteRoom, their status is saved. When you open up the application again, all of the rooms are restored, and you can switch between the active room with a simple key combination.
It’s a different way of working, but one that I’ve grown used to, working on the Neo.
Of course, the Neo has the advantage in terms of weight (two pounds), battery life (three AAAs, seven hundred hours), and autosaving every keystroke. On the other hand, the LCD screen is functional, not so elegant.
Running WriteRoom on your laptop is both.
DarkRoom is not as good as WriteRoom, at least not yet. DarkRoom is notepad with a WriteRoom appearance. It’s still very early in its development cycle, so I’m sure that multiple rooms and an autosave function will be implemented at some point. Update: Oh wait, my fault. I didn’t dig deep enough into the application preferences. DarkRoom has an autosave feature, but I don’t really know how often it saves. I just wanted to be clear on the feature set. I do hope to see multiple rooms, though.
They are both useful for getting text “out there” without any distractions. Why would these programs be important?
For NaNoWriMo, of course.