GitJournal – Markdown Notes Integrated with Git - Interview with the developer of a fantastic app

Did you have any prior development or coding experience?

Yes, quite a bit. I think I first started programming nearly 18 years ago, and I've been programming professionally in some capacity for over 10 years. My experience has mostly been in building Linux Desktop Environments (KDE), backend applications, big data processing, and lately Mobile Apps.

What was the most challenging aspect of developing mobile app?

GitJournal relies heavily on Git, which is its main selling point. For this, I've been using a C library called libgit2. Getting this library to compile and work across all the different Android and iOS architectures was a very frustrating and difficult process.

Since then, the most challenging aspect has been balancing customizing the app's behavior vs usability. The target audience is currently programmers who notoriously have very different workflows. A one size fits all approach was never going to work.

Vishesh is trying to build apps that make it easy to give users control of their data. Most of his time is currently spent between GitJournal and occasional consulting.

Name a few of your favorite apps and reason you love them.

BitWarden - Open Source Password Manager- I'm a big fan of open-source tools, especially when a business can be made around them. Many "open source" tools rely on an "open core" model, where some parts of the application are proprietary. This results in the actual "open source" version of the app, often feeling like a demo version. BitWarden is one of the few apps, with a company behind it, and where all parts of the code are completely open-source. - Extendable workflow automation- I love this app and use it daily as it automates different parts of both my personal and professional life. I find it much easier to use than IFTTT or Zapier, and most importantly I can host it myself.

This is another case of a company trying to build an open-source-like product. If you're a software license nerd like me, it's interesting to see the evolution of licenses being chosen and how this company is Open Source for personal use, vs proprietary for building a competing project.

How long have you been working on this app?

It has been over 3 years now. This project has gone from coding on the side, to working on it half-time to sometimes even full-time.

What need of the user did you have in mind when developing this app?

I keep a digital journal, which I find incredibly useful for writing down my thoughts. It helps me clear my head and better structure my life. There exist many journaling apps, but none had an easy interface and allowed me to be in control of my data. Over the last 10+ years, I've used one app over another and always exported the journals into a simple plain text format, which lasts forever.

GitJournal was originally built to satisfy my own problem of wanting a simple Journaling experience on top of Git. Since then, more and more people have found it useful and started using it for journaling, note-taking, and managing their websites.

In what way do you think your app is better than similar apps on the market? Please describe in detail what innovation you think you bring and what you are proud of in your app.

There are very few user-centric apps targeting programmers. It makes sense since the market is much smaller and programmers are notorious for having exotic workflows.

GitJournal's innovation is in three parts -
* Targeting a niche of Programmers
* Building on top of 'git', a tool programmers use daily
* Building on top of open standards and integrating with existing apps.

The last point is important, as often tools require a complete change in existing workflows. GitJournal tries to integrate itself into the users’ existing workflow. This often also has humorous results like getting bug reports about not being able to handle one user's 44k notes.

What are your future plans and expected features of the coming new versions of this app?

My plans for this year are:
* Add more creative ways to link and visualize your notes such as a graph. These ways are now becoming standard since Roam Research popularized it in 2020.

* Focus on stabilizing and making the app feel nicer to use.

In the long term, I want to make the app more usable for non-programmers. Currently being in control of your own data is very challenging, even with GitJournal it requires either hosting your own git server or trusting a 3rd party like GitHub. I would like to provide end-to-end encrypted git hosting and allow GitJournal to sync with other instances of GitJournal so you can easily sync your phone with your laptop without ever needing to touch the "cloud".

Assuming new users of your app are reading this page. What do you want to ask them to do (contact you about X, Share the app, etc.)?

I love building GitJournal and working on it. The part that I struggle the most with is marketing and spreading / talking about GitJournal. So if you like GitJournal, please promote it in your favorite place. The more popular GitJournal gets, the more time I can dedicate to working on it.

GitJournal – Markdown Notes Integrated with Git

About App:

Git Journal is a note-taking/journaling app built with privacy and data portability in mind. It stores all its notes in a standardized Markdown + YAML header format or plaintext. The notes are stored in a hosted Git Repo of your choice - GitHub / GitLab / Gitea / Gogs / Any Custom-provider.

- Offline First - All your notes are available offline
- No Account Required
- Categorize your Notes with Folders
- Open source / Free Software / FOSS
- Can easily be extended and integrated with other Git tools
- Can also be used to manage Hugo / Jekyll / Gatsby websites
- No Ads
- Built with Flutter

Never need to import/export your notes, as you always have control of the data. Apps may come and go, but your notes will always be with you.

The app comes with a clean, easy-to-use interface designed to focus on just writing your journal entries without any distractions.

We have chosen Git as a backend as self-hosting a Git server is much simpler than almost any other software, additionally, there are already many commercial providers of Git. So you can choose who you want to trust with your notes. We currently don't support encrypting the notes, but it's something we're actively working on.

Categories: Productivity

Date: October 2, 2021

Developer: Vishesh Handa

About developer: Vishesh is trying to build apps that make it easy to give users control of t ... Read more



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