I’ve been looking for a good software to help with writing a journal/diary. Although I didn’t know exactly what i had in mind, there was a couple of features I thought I needed (and which I has discovered I needed as I tried out the different software packages that exists).
1. Ease of start writing. I don’t want to jump through hoops to just start the writing process.
2. Browsable/searchable. I need to be able to easily go back to previous entry, or at least be able to search for them.
3. Preferably text file format. In case the program stop working or I want to upgrade/change program, I rather the files that are created are in a common format. Making it hard to move away from a program means that developer don’t have faith that people will stay program voluntarily (yes, I know there are some efficiency reasons for going binary).
4. Simple. KISS principle
Wikis are interesting. They pretty much cover 1,2 and 3. The problem is, I don’t want to install a webserver on my home system just to be able to write to my journal. Also, the browser isn’t the best editor in the world. I do have WordPress installed on my public webserver, so I could in theory create a private section. But again, I don’t think a browser is the best editor.
Journal that comes with Kontact is pretty basic. Since I already use Kontact as my primary mail client, it wasn’t that much that difficult to use Journal.
The problem is that Journal is too basic. Once you write an entry, there is no way to find it again. There are no indication in the Calendar whether a given day has a journal attached to it. So you have to pretty much go to each day and check whether the journal entry you want is there or not. There is a very rudimentary search, but sometimes you want to just browse.
Now, Emacs being the all-in-one editor probably had something I could use.
journal-mode had everything I really needed. Problem was that it wasn’t maintained anymore. No support for Emacs 22 and beyond, which is a problem.
planner-mode forced too much structure. Programs should conform to me, not the other way around.
muse-mode made it easy to start writing. But it has the problem of structure. I wanted to be able to browse my journal by period and tags. I could set it up manually, but really… the program should take care of it.
org-mode. The perfect module, so far. It fills all four of my needs. It took my less than an hour to wrap my head around it to use. Org-mode also seems to be extendible enough for me to use in other parts of my life (like a day planner), which means that I can become more productive the more time I spend on it. So far, after 24 hours of use, I consider it a keeper.
Note: Sasha Chua has an blog entry about the topic. She also has lots of articles about using Emacs to its fullest potential.