iOS to Android Challenge – Day One Journal

I use the Day One journal app on both and my OS laptop.  It’s a solid, easy to use, but still full featured journaling application.

The biggest issue for me with this switch is it is only available for Apple devices.

The other issue is that while I’m sure there are a lot of nice journaling tools, I have over 200 entries in Day One and don’t want to lose them or split my entries into two places, entries prior to my switch and those after the switch.

A quick search engine check on what may support importing from Day One brings up Day Journal for Android.  The screen shots look nice enough, but it is Android only and I need something that will let me use it from my phone, tablet, and computer, and as I mentioned in the first post about this switching effort, I am only changing my phone, not my other devices.

I have used plenty of apps for writing/diary/journal purposes in the past.  I started with Microsoft OneNote but at the time it was not fully cross-platform nor mobile friendly, although otherwise it was very good.  From there I moved to Evernote, which also works very well and was cross-platform.  Evernote for me quickly became a bunch of notes across a lot of topics, and not very well organized.  I didn’t tag, I didn’t use multiple notebooks, and I used the integration features which, while they are helpful to keep web clippings and saved articles to read later, it also makes my Evernote workspace quite distracting.  That is when I moved to Day One, to have an uncluttered app/workspace to use just for journal writing, and at the time Evernote was also missing quite a few features that Day One had, although since then Evernote has come a long way.

I mention this, because my iOS to Android switching solution for Day One relies on Evernote.  Before I go into what I am doing, I did find two solutions that make moving from Day One to Evernote fairly easy.  They aren’t perfect, as I’ll cover below, but to simply get from Day One into Evernote, they do the job.  My final solution is a bit more complicated, only because I decided I want to stick with Day One to some extent as I prefer it over Evernote when it comes to journaling, so I have a bit more complicated of a work-around.

For those who are OK living in Evernote, here are two options:

#1 – which is more complicated but also more impressive technically.  I found a Python script on GitHub here which uses the Evernote feature of submitting notes by email.  It will convert your Day One entries to emails and they will pop up in the Evernote   notebook of your choosing as individual notes.

One warning about that script, it did not work for me fresh from being downloaded.  Perhaps it wasn’t written for Mac OS X which is what I was running it on, or maybe it is just a bit buggy, it is mentioned as being a proof of concept script.  I found that I needed to include tags for the entries, as it crashed without them.  You also need to make sure the email address you enter for Evernote is the email address that your account provides to you to use to log entries by email.  That was not clear and I initially entered my personal email address which I log into the service with, which does not work.  The script also requires a Gmail account to automate the export/import, but it is easy enough to switch to use another email provider by editing the Python code.  After a few code tweaks I got it to run just fine.

#2 – This post has an alternate way you can move the content from Day One to Evernote.  It is simpler and would also work to move to OneNote or any other solution that supports text file import.  This approach is a bit easier, and while it has some extra manual steps, it worked on the first try and did not need any code editing or knowledge of where files are stored or anything else unlike the other script.

You may ask why I would try this second approach after getting the first to work.  I guess I like knowing all the options and wanted to see which works best.  Both of the prior solutions had some issues.  If the first worked perfectly I may not have tried the second, but in the end both had shortcomings.  The entries are all timestamped at the time of import, not at the time of the entry, which was an issue for me, and photos did not come across, just the text.  I don’t attach many photos so this alone wouldn’t be a show-stopper for me, but I did not want to manually set the entry time stamps nor was I OK to have the imported ones all marked as the time of import.  To me a journal really needs to keep track of when the entries were made and the cleanest approach for that is the timestamp of the entry/note date.  I suspect neither of these options preserve text formatting either.  I did not check, as this wouldn’t have been too important for me and I knew in my case I was not going to use these solutions.

Considering the export/import scripts were not perfect, and that I do like Day One better than Evernote for journaling, my final solution is this:

  • I’m going to stick with Day One as my primary journaling tool.  On my laptop and iPad I will continue to use Day One directly.
  • On Android, I will write any entries in Evernote, and through automation magic that I’ll describe below they will show up properly in Day One.
  • To read all entries this means I need to access them from Day One, as Evernote will only have entries that I added in Evernote.  I can live with this.  I rarely read old entries from the phone.  My use of Day One on the phone has always been limited to quick entries when on the go, which I usually go back to edit from the computer or tablet later.

The trick to syncing from Evernote to Android is simple, and is a service that I suspect will solve some of my other switching issues.  It is the IFTTT service.   (If This Then That) allows you to set up connections to your applications and cloud services, and it monitors them to automate actions for you based on things that happen.

Essentially, I set up an IFTTT rule that says “If I add a new note in the Journal notebook in Evernote then copy that note to Day One as a new entry.”  This rule satisfies my timestamp issue as IFTTT regularly runs these checks, so the Day One timestamp is within a reasonable amount of time from the Evernote timestamp.

I don’t believe this would copy images over, however it may, I just haven’t tried it yet.  As I mentioned I rarely add photos, and I could always add them later from the tablet or PC, so this Day One / Evernote / IFTTT combo suits my needs.

So that’s all for this.  The Great Switch Challenge issue #1 solved!  I suspect this will be an “average” type of issue to solve.  I suspect some will be much harder and some easier, but this was pretty straight-forward and just needed a few quick online searches and setting up an integration between two things I already own.  It was a quick fix, with the writing this post about what I did certainly taking more time than solving the problem itself!

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