15 June 2013

SimpleNote is like a comfy pair of shoes

I’m a fan of plain text notes. I have more than 1200 of them. They are part of the process I use to organise my life and guide my thinking, both at work and home.

Up until October last year, I was using a combination of nvALT (a Notational Velocity fork) on Mac, SimpleNote on iOS and ResophNotes on Windows. This was a pretty good setup, until SimpleNote started to become flaky. The SimpleNote server seemed to be down every other day, and notes were sometimes corrupted, very rarely, but rarely is too often.

So I stopped using SimpleNote, and switched to using DropBox for syncing. DropBox promised much: speed, reliability, and I could keep my notes in plain text and have them available on all my devices. I continued to use nvALT on my Mac, and switched to using Sublime Text (a text editor) on Windows, because ResophNotes only works with SimpleNote. But I also needed to find a good iOS text editor that supported DropBox sync, to replace the SimpleNote iOS app.

In the search for the perfect iOS text editor I undertook weeks of research and experimentation, using Brett Terpstra’s iOS Text Editor roundup as a guiding resource. I read many reviews and articles before narrowing the field down to Elements, Notesy, Nebulous Notes, PlainText and nvNotes. I purchased all those apps. But to cut a long story short, none of the apps were really up to the task of handling 1200 notes, in particular, and invariably, searching across all my notes was a dreadfully slow and infuriating main-thread-blocking experience. Not to mention the high frequency of crashes.

I masochistically persisted with this sub-optimal setup for months, vainly hoping things would get better. I filed bug reports and received sympathetic replies from developers, but not much hope.

During this time, I also had a spell of replacing nvALT with JustNotes, and that didn’t work out too well either. I might talk about that another time.

Finally, in April this year, I gave up and switched back to SimpleNote. It was like a breath of fresh air! SimpleNote has switched to a new and improved API, and it is remarkable how brilliantly fast and reliable it is now.

Aaahh, it is very comfortable being back with my friends SimpleNote and nvALT. I don’t think I’ll be leaving them again any time soon.