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
Dropbox folder over the last year; for a number
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
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largely have been replaced by Unicode / UTF-8(or 16), started in 1960. ↩