Writing in a journal or diary, where you may pour your heart out for no one’s eyes but your own, can be an intensely personal experience. Writing longhand in a paper notebook used to be standard practice for journal writing, but most people nowadays type faster than they write, and digital text is easier to search. But finding a journal application that suits your sense of style is just as personal a decision as finding the right notebook in which to write. When Jendrik Seipp couldn’t find what he was looking for in a journal app, he began coding his own, and that became RedNotebook.
RedNotebook is a desktop journal and diary. You can use it to write notes or work logs or keep a regular diary. You can tag entries, and insert files, pictures, and links. Once you’ve entered them, you can search your entries, and export them to plain text, HTML, LaTeX, or PDF. Entries can be formatted with a wiki-style markup language, and the application even provides statistics about your journal.
RedNotebook lets you construct templates for repeating posts, so you can make a template for each day of the week, or named templates for special events such as work meetings or trips. Another fun feature is a word cloud that shows the words and tags you use most often.
The program supports wiki markup not just in journal entries, but everywhere. That means you can write **bold** text in the main text area, and also in the categories on the right side of each page. You can also have links and pictures in the category entries.
Seipp says he chose to write RedNotebook in Python because “I wanted to write a bigger software project with this awesome language. At first I used the wxPython toolkit, but was soon fed up with it, because it was very difficult to use and there wasn’t much documentation about it. I switched to PyGTK for the 0.5 release and am very happy with this decision. The GUI is partly designed with Glade. For programming I mostly use Eclipse with PyDev or Geany. The project uses SVN, because that was the only version control tool I knew at the time. The application itself makes use of PyYAML and txt2tags because those libs make the conversion of the content from disk to GUI to HTML and back a breeze.
“For the future I have planned Zeitgeist integration to give users an auto-generated log of activities. I also plan to implement some kind of encryption. And maybe RedNotebook will even make the switch to real rich text editing.”
Since he began development in August 2008 Seipp has made 40 releases. He says he hosts the product on SourceForge.net because “it is the best-known service for open source software and a starting point for many people’s searches for free software.” He announces new releases at freshmeat.net and gnomefiles.org, and via Twitter.
If you’d like to get involved with the project, you can contact Seipp through RedNotebook’s forum or via e-mail. He says, “RedNotebook needs more translators, and also documentation writers and testers. In addition the project seriously needs someone in charge of creating Windows installers (or the first Mac package) for new versions. If you are a developer, help is needed for the encryption work. Last but not least, if you know your way around CSS, it would be great if you could design some templates for nicer content previews.”