Diary — Awesome Open Source

This Diary app for android, by Bill Farmer, has made it a pleasure to keep a diary of short observations. I wasn't a diary writer until I installed it about two years ago and now I have been using it nearly every day, ever since.

(This app is available from the free/libre/open-source app store F-droid, and not from the Google Play Store. If you haven't started using F-droid yet, you should! Here's one guide that I just found; I haven't used or checked it.)

What I like about this Diary:

The way I use this diary mostly is to jot down quick observations whenever I have a moment. I don't write long reflective prose. Just something I heard, saw, did, or made. Sometimes complete sentences, sometimes just a hint which I will later complete and correct. When I remember something, I don't write “Last Tuesday...”, I go back to last Tuesday's page and add it there.

Why plain text files?

This Diary stores its pages as a tree of plain text files, one file per day. If you insert photos, it stores those alongside them as plain standard image files.

Using plain files means the content of our diary is not tied to this app. We can edit the diary easily with any text editor.

This is a great way to store data that we want to keep for many years. Most apps we use today didn't exist a few years ago and may no longer exist (in a readily accessible form that works on whatever new device we have then) in a few more years from now.

By storing data in plain files, it means we do not depend on this particular app remaining available.

For example, I synchronise my docs folder between my phone and my laptop, where this app is not available. Instead I can still view and edit my diary entries using any generic text editor on the laptop. (If the text editor supports MarkDown, so much the better: then it will help me view and edit any formatting or inserted media, but that extra help is not essential.)

Using plain files also helps with long term storage and back up. I configure the app to put the diary folder inside my Android “Documents” folder, and arrange to back up that whole folder using general purpose file backup tools. My diary storage doesn't depend on any Diary-specific or even Android-specific backup tools.