Grail Diary's new focus: Book notes

I last wrote:

When I was working on Grail Diary, I was confused on if I was writing a digital Commonplace Book (specifically designed for storing quotes and other things you want to remember about the books you read) or if I was writing a general-purpose notes app with a spaced-repetition feature…

I’ve been thinking about this a lot for the past few days, and I’ve made a decision: Grail Diary is going to be an app for taking notes about the books you read. That’s currently what I use it for, and I want to start evolving the app to make it as great as possible for any other book lover.

Book notes are important enough to deserve a dedicated application! For a book lover, your book notes will be among the most important things you create in your life. Your notes help books become a part of you.

I designed Grail Diary around three factors that make book notes different:

  • Permanent value: If you are a book lover, you can build up a reading log and notes over the course of decades. My log and notes go back over twenty years. Grail Diary uses simple plain-text markup so your notes will be readable forever, by almost any application.
  • Personal ownership: Your book notes are yours. You shouldn’t lose them when a software company goes out of business. Grail Diary works with simple files! No account, no sign-up, and you can move or copy your files wherever you want. You can use file synchronization services like iCloud Drive or Dropbox to keep your content in sync across multiple devices.
  • Perusability: The joy of writing book notes is rereading them! It’s like meeting old friends again. Grail Diary already has features to help you get reacquainted with what you’ve put in your notes, and I’ve got ideas for many more.

Even if Grail Diary never makes it beyond “personal project,” I feel better with focus. I’m trying to decide if I want to really polish the app and put it on the app store, or if I just want to keep it as an open-source app for the motivated techies to benefit from. On the one hand, getting my own app back on the app store would be a good ultralearning project. On the other hand, I’m kind of scared to take that step. If I release the app to the app store and people don’t like it… can my ego handle it?

That’s a decision for another day.