On Plain Text Files versus custom apps.

September 08, 2015

I’ll be using the term “plain text files”, or some variation of it here, but most of what I’m talking about could also apply to Evernote; and I will explain it at the end.

There are many apps out there that are good at one single thing. Quotebook for quotes, Tapcellar for beer and Clear for tasks.

But I have been moving most of it out from custom apps, to plain text file lists, stored in my nvALT Dropbox folder over the last year; for a number of reasons.

  • Sync. I trust Dropbox, and I know that something need to go really wrong before I lose data; and that is not true for the various iCloud solutions I have used with various other apps.

  • Backup. All of my plain text files are stored many places: my Mac, all my iOS devices, plus I have various other backups as well, including the systems that backs up my mac. I have full control, something I don’t have on the more closed down systems, like iCloud.

  • Durability. A plain text file will outlive most of the technology we have today. The text files of the 80s, and probably the 70s going back as far as regular file systems exists still work today1. I might not be able to use “use” a markdown file in 30 years, but I know I could read the raw file.

  • Interoperability. I can find something that can deal with my files on any platform: web, OS X, iOS, Windows, Linux etc.

  • And I can also find a new app to replace an old one, the day the developer stops maintaining it.

  • Flexible. I can refactor the structure of any of my text files to fit changing needs to do more or less everything(I just need to remember to document how it all works).

The downside to all of it is of course that you need to do a lot more of the hard work yourself. But I think it is well worth it, in some cases, at least for the stuff I don’t use that much.

Evernote. You can do more or less the same with Evernote. The sync is solid. The only difference is that there are way less third party clients. But you can trust the sync, even though it is a little bit slow. And alternote is a good option if you don’t like their OS X client.

The great thing about Evernote is that they have a client for everything, no matter how small(or stupid) the platform is. Do you remember the BlackBerry Tablet? No, of course not. No one does. But they had a app for it.

Text files are a great option. And I find it a lot easier to find stuff inside nvALT, or Editorial on iOS, than looking through various apps.


  • The work on ASCII, the codec most of what we use today rely on, but largely have been replaced by Unicode / UTF-8(or 16), started in 1960. ↩

    Removing Mental Overhead on Your iPhone

    September 07, 2015

    I could not agree more. Doing what Ben Brooks calls the “CGP Grey” method, or what I have done on and off for a very long time is great. Some people prefer organizing apps in various folders or app screens. I prefer having the stuff I use all the time on my Homescreen, and having the rest in a folder; and then just search for what I need. The having three icons in the dock and a empty row is weird, but everything feels so much nicer when you do it.


    Six Colors

    September 07, 2015

    Jason Snell:

    For me it’s a milestone in a few other ways, too. This week marks a year since I left IDG, and it’s also week 52 of the existence of this site. Next week will be the first anniversary of Six Colors.

    Six Colors is a great site, and it have been so from day one. And I think I speak for most long time Apple Geeks when I say that it was fantastic to see Jason writing again.



    September 05, 2015


    Squire is an HTML5 rich text editor, which provides powerful cross-browser normalisation, whilst being supremely lightweight and flexible. It is built for the present and the future, and as such does not support truly ancient browsers. It should work fine back to around Opera 12, Firefox 3.5, Safari 5, Chrome 9 and IE9.


    Death to Bullshit

    September 05, 2015

    Yes, yes and another yes. I am so sick of all the bullshit we see on the web. And I have stopped to link to sites that do popups for stuff like “signing up for newsletter” an a like. It might be effective, but I can’t stand it, and I am fucking sick of it.



    September 05, 2015

    The development of the new NetNewsWire have taken forever, but it looks great, and I can’t wait to test it out.

    NetNewsWire is a giant, and is for many, including me the first RSS client I ever used. I’m not 100% sure if having a proprietary syncing backend, instead of using FeedWrangler, Feedly, etc are going to work in