I have been using the Day One app [Mac, iPhone & iPad] for some time as a personal journal. It’s on my iPhone’s home screen so I can quickly capture a moment with the app’s builtin camera function. In addition to date stamping the entry, it also geotags the location and even captures the current weather at the time the entry was created. Best of all, it’s an “archival quality” editor in that it saves everything in plain text using markdown for formatting. I don’t have to worry about my entries becoming unreadable should these apps become obsolete sometime in the future.
While it’s a great personal journal, I’m beginning to discover its versatility makes it useful in any number of ways. Day One provides TextExpander [Mac & iOS] support so I can quickly add repetitive text by typing a simple abbreviation – especially handy when working on an iPhone and very useful for creating research “forms” for use in a journal entry. Here’s an example of a simple research log form template that has been saved as a TextExpander snippet. The pound sign and asterisks are markdown code used to format the plain text files.
Combine this with Day One’s email sharing feature and you’ve got the basis for a very nice email correspondence log for your research. Here’s how:
- Open a new journal entry in Day One.
- Add a “correspondence” tag and surname tag(s) for this message.
- Type and/or use TextExpander to write the body of your message.
- Once finished, email the entry.
That’s it. You can use the tags to quickly find all your journal entries associated with them. You can even create a PDF document of journal entries associated with a tag or tags. (Note: this feature is only available on the iOS apps at the moment.)
It’s not just correspondence either. Use your customized research log template in TextExpander to set up a new journal item as a research log entry. Use tags to identify surnames, locations or whatever you’ll need later to collect associated entries. Each entry is created separately, but Day One’s tag and save as PDF feature can pull together a custom log in a matter of seconds. No longer do you need to manage a notebook full of paper log sheets.
Day One supports both iCloud and Dropbox for keeping your journal entries synched across all your devices. Although using Day One for research support will impact the size of your journal files, the plain text format means you aren’t eating up storage space with unnecessary proprietary code.
One last thought. Imagine finding an ancestor’s journal that not only included entries discussing her day-to-day activities, but also included her genealogical research notes. With Day One, you can leave that behind for generations yet to come.