The update specifically was to integrate the app (which is the sync system for WriteRoom for iPhone, eventually for TaskPaper for iPhone, and in fact any set of txt files you throw at it) with Notational Velocity, an iconoclastic and intriguing open source note taking data base manager that I tried and dumped a year of so ago because it stored all its data in a central database, obviating my architecture of ‘external to any application’ data files.
So I was trying to figure out how and why would SimpeText work with NV, when it dawned on me to actually go look at the NV application again (duhhh) and I found that in the most recent (Sept 09) release, NV now has the option to not only store data as TXT’s or RTF’s it can also access those files from an any folder, all via a preference option.
The lights clicked on.
SimpleText is a sync tool that reads a folder filled with txt files to a cloud server. There you can edit them in a cool minimalist web page, and from there they are synced to your iPhone. Jesse had just modified SimpleText so it could read and write to a list of txt files created or modified by NV.
So what’ the big deal? People who use NV get kind of religious about the design of the application. It’s an entirely different way to keep notes and manage text; not quite wiki, not quite shovebox. It is designed with the idea that a note once taken can be expanded on rather than recreated. When you create a new note in NV, by writing a new subject for the note, the application brings you to any prior note on the subject with a type along search process. You have to try it to grok it.
I’m not so sure I fully grok it yet, or if I ever will, but I have figured out that NV also works just fine as an editor on a folder of TXT/RTF’s without opening each file, as a ‘Drive by Editor’, you could say. This was the one feature I really missed from Journler, EagleFiler, MacJournal, et al, because I can replicate NV’s searching using Spotlight, and can preview the searched files using QuickLook, but if, as I go through them I say, “Ouch, that’s the wrong word” or “I need to add this idea” it entails popping open the file in Bean or WriteRoom or whatever to make the change. Not a big deal I know but for those minor touchup edits, it’s just enough of a hassle, and is obviated by NV. And maybe someday I’ll get the heading-search-body text architecture of NV.
Bonus: Using Jese’s QuickCursor application (also free) you can edit those NV notes in the zen like wonderment of WriteRoom’s full screen glory, (from NV to QuickCursor to WriteRoom, all seamless) and if you target your SimpleText folder with NV, all those edits end up synced to WriteRoom for iPhone.
Bonus Bonus: All this is happening against my existing library of files that, should any or all of these apps implode someday, will be just as they are now, fully functional for the next system that comes along.
I’m not sure if Grosjean or the NV developers planned on all this integrated goodness to occur, but the combined design is nothing short of near perfect minimalism and maximum functionality in the note taking and text management field.
If you are not using WriteRoom, go get it. Your money is well spent, it’s a great writing platform, then get it all tricked out with QuickCurser and SimpleText to make it really sing. If you’ve never tried NV go download it (it’s free) and see what a unique note taking application looks like. Once you do that the only thing missing will be the data set itself and you can follow my system or concoct one of your own.