Freeware journal keeping software for Windows?
September 9, 2005 2:27 AM   Subscribe

I would like to begin keeping a journal, preferably using software. I don't know what software to use- can you help?

What I'm looking for is a good recommendation for free Windows-based software that would leave the journal in an open format, and probably organized and searchable. I've looked at Treepad, but the proprietary format frightens me. I'm also looking into .CHM editors, but nothing so far seems good. Any recommendations?
posted by id to Writing & Language (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A text document in Notepad is about as open as you get. If you want a little more formatting you might go with an RTF in Wordpad (which also comes standard with Windows).

If you want something a little fancier, why not try TiddlyWiki. It is simply an HTML document, so it is pretty open. It is searchable, and you have the option to add tags and formating. I'm currently using it as a personal notepad that I share and open on both my iBook and my Windows desktop. Finally, it holds everything in one file, so it's extremely portable.
posted by bwilms at 2:44 AM on September 9, 2005

If you are not worried about password protecting it, you can install blog software on your PC and basically host your own "online" blog. It won't be accessable to anyone online (unless you want to do some other stuff to host it), but will work for you just fine. This is a little bit on the technical side to set up, but it is an option.

I use a mac, so I am not familiar with journal software on Windows, but you can check out VersionTracker to locate a variety of choices.
posted by qwip at 2:45 AM on September 9, 2005

Should'a previewed. What bwilms said.
posted by qwip at 2:49 AM on September 9, 2005


TiddlyWiki is more than I could of possibly dreamed for- what an amazing piece of work. Thank you so much for the link!

Any other suggestions would still be appreciated!
posted by id at 3:55 AM on September 9, 2005

Watch out for TiddlyWiki. After a number of items are added, deleted, etc., performance tends to degrade noticeably until you exit and restart the browser.

I don't understand your concern about "proprietary formats". Do you have to have something that will be readable in a text editor? If so, your choices will be very limited.

There are many freeware options. Treepad has a free version. Keynote is an excellent freeware product based on the same idea. Other options: EssentialPIM, The Journal.

The best option to avoid data loss when using one of these is to do a weekly export of the data to RTF or text format.

I still hear people, from time to time, say that they don't want to use PDF files because it's a "proprietary format". Sheesh!
posted by yclipse at 5:18 AM on September 9, 2005

Correction - TheJournal is not free.
posted by yclipse at 5:21 AM on September 9, 2005

Many years ago, I wrote a small Ruby script that maintains a .diary directory; I type "d" whenever I feel like writing something, and it goes off and makes the appropriate directory, makes a temp file with a bit of formatting for date/time and entry seperation, based on an existing entry if I've made multiple ones that day, and runs vim on it, jumping to precisely where I can just start typing. If I save it, the temp file is put in its proper place, otherwise it rolls back any modifications.

For organized, well, I have ~/.diary/year/month/day,weekday for any entry I make; it's plaintext so I can just run grep on it, and adding things like tags is pretty trivial and a fun way to kill 10 minutes. Using vim means my editing is pretty much bombproof (yay for .swp files) and it of course works flawlessly and securely anywhere in the world over SSH.

I doubt this will be your cup of tea, but if you do go web-based, don't forget how easy it is to lose everything you've typed to server problems or browser crashes or mistypes (the number of times I've done ^W for delete-word and managed to close the window... someone seriously needs to be badly hurt for that one) or a million other problems. For me this makes my 50 lines of Ruby better than any web application I could write. YMMV.
posted by Freaky at 7:04 AM on September 9, 2005

I've been using Wikipad for a while, and it is great. It's stores its information in plain text, and allows you to search and link it all togethor. Very well worth checking out.
posted by gus at 8:04 AM on September 9, 2005

I use EverNote to jot down my notes and it's pretty good. The quick search feature in particular is extremely useful. It uses a proprietary file format, but it does export to XML.
posted by Goblindegook at 8:49 AM on September 9, 2005

I use a little program, strictly for my journaling, called ADVANCED DIARY.
Free and quite functional.

posted by Independent Scholarship at 9:05 AM on September 9, 2005

My insistence on non-proprietary formats is because I want to be able to read my journal entries way into the future- plaintext or HTML would allow this, but maybe one day in 2025 I find that it's impossible to open that treepad database file. I don't want that.

Checking out WikiPad as well. Thanks again everyone!
posted by id at 1:40 PM on September 9, 2005

I use the Microsoft Office "journal" feature. Seriously. You can edit the categories (in the registry, but still) to customize them. And while it may be proprietary, it's the sort of proprietary that is, in effect, open. There's always going to be a Microsoft Office format, and there will always be a bazillion tools to export out of Microsoft Office and into whatever format is considered "standard" (txt, rtf, whatever) at the time.
posted by gd779 at 6:12 PM on September 9, 2005

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