Writing a PhD dissertation, a master thesis, a bachelor thesis, or any other kind of lengthy document can be a lot less rewarding than hacking on something that gives real feedback once it starts working…

But, it’s part of the story, so the question was, already during my master thesis, how do I get some immediate feedback on my progress?

Do you fancy some graphs like the following ones?

Example Graphs depicting Writing Progress

I do, they tell me whether I am roughly on track. Of course, they do not reflect editing and revising properly, but they give a good impression of whether the text body itself does develop.

Since colleagues asked whether they could use the scripts, I put them up on GitHub: WritingStats. Note the README, it describes how the scripts are supposed to be setup and configured.

Currently, it works with LaTeX documents and has the following features:

  • determine page and word count, generate statistics based on them
  • generate RSS feed with the latest data
  • generate graphs to visualize progress

I happend to use it together with Word for my master thesis and for instance the docx2html.xsl XSLT transformation is still in the repository. If you adapt the script to use it, would appreciate a pull request.

Hope the script will be useful for others. Feel free to comment, report issues, and to send pull requests on GitHub.