By Martin Stut, 2011-06-25
After having decided to more regularly publish blog posts, I started looking for a method of collecting ideas and editing drafts on my Android smartphone.
Standard text editors won't do it for me, because rearranging portions of the text (sentences, paragraphs) feels so clumsy and error prone. I consider it very hard to precisely select a certain range of text on Android. I'm still on 2.2 ("Froyo"), because HTC didn't yet publish the update to 2.3 for my HTC Desire, bought in late June of 2010.
So I'm looking for an Android app that can manage a bunch of text fragments (thoughts, "items"), rearrange them in a manually selected order and then somehow move that sequence of words into a draft post on wordpress.com.
I searched the Android Market for a number of words (mind map, subnotes, note tree, subtasks etc.) and found quite a number of candidates. I did include ToDo managers, because they also tend to cater for ordering ideas.
Trying them briefly resulted in these findings, in the order of test:
- Thinking Space (the mind map classic on Android): powerful arrangements. Needs some learning, but feels quite good then. Not quite ideal for quick notes. Export only as mind map file, so it requires a full PC to copy into a blog post. Admitted to second round.
- JetNote: no recognisable drag/drop, deinstall
- MindMapMemo: rearranging won't readjust other nodes. Nice tool but not for quick arrangeable notes, deinstall
- ListMaster: ads, to-do oriented, separate title and detail, multiple lists, drag and drop of notes within the list. Admitted to second round.
- Extensive Notes: no manual sort. Deinstall.
- Mobisle Notes: lists can be reordered, not items within a list. No export. Deinstall.
- One Line Todo: ads are dangerously close to the input area. Todo only, Nice drag & drop of to-dos within one list, but every item (line) absolutely needs date & time. Deinstall.
- Noodles Todo List: beautifully simple UI, but absolutely no way to export, except copy & paste item by item. Barely admitted to second round.
- TaskList Todo List: to-do oriented. Slightly slow UI, not faster than Thinking space. Export into XML only. Deinstall
- LiveList Checklist: great UI, very fast, good manual sort, but no export. Even the web site won't show the task details.
- PalmNote: no ads, user definable categories, manual sort order of notes available. Tries to emulate the feel of the note app of good old Palm OS. Export to SD manually, xml only. Admitted to second round.
- GetItDone Task List: aims high, full GTD, but no export, can't terminate program. Deinstall.
- QuickTodo: clumsy, almost buggy UI, no readable export. Deinstall.
The apps that seemed worth a second look got into the
All apps that made it though here have sub-items and manual sortability as pre-checked properties.
In this round I'm checking on
- Visibility of details
- Ease of entering new items (thoughts)
- Ease of modifying existing items
- Ease of rearranging thoughts
- Ease of exporting thoughts to a WordPress draft post.
The mind map classic on Android. As a mind map app, it enables powerful arrangements. Needs learning, but quite good then. Not quite ideal for quick notes. Export only as mind map file, so it requires a full PC to copy into a blog post.
- Details are visible if the nodes are expanded, very flexible, very good.
- Entering new items: focus (tap) on parent, tap + icon, type text, finish with enter. Parent remains focused. Nice easy.
- Modifying existing items: double tap item, edit, enter. Nice easy.
- Rearranging items: tap star icon to enable gesture input, mark item to be moved, swipe curve gesture. This also moves subitems. Cut & paste for changing levels also available. A bit complex but nice flexible.
- Export to WordPress draft: for each item separately: double tap item, long tap text, copy. Does not copy subitems.
Alternatively through desktop Freemind and ODT export (would capture entire mind map).
Live List Checklist
Very fast UI, but separate title and description. No useable export, except copy & paste (which may be acceptable).
- Visibility of details: title & first line only, requires long click to see full detail
- Entering new items:
title only: tap on entry field, type, tap "+" icon.
Title with detail: long tap "+" icon, tap title field, type, tap detail field, type, tap save button. A bit complex.
- Modifying existing items: long tap item, tap title or detail field, edit, tap save.
- Rearrange items: Menu, sort/manual, then drag & drop.
- Export to WordPress: for each item separately: long tap item, long tap title, copy, paste, long tap detail, copy, paste.
Ads, to-do oriented, separate title and detail, multiple lists, drag and drop of notes within the list. Too slow, moved out within the second round.
Noodles Todo List
Beautifully simple, fast UI, title and details are in a common field (which I consider good) but absolutely no way to export, except copy & paste item by item (which may be acceptable).
- Visibility of details: title plus first 35 characters of detail. Requires long click to see full detail.
- Entering new items: tap empty field, type title, enter, type details, tap + icon. Nice easy.
- Modifying existing items: long tap item, tap small text field, edit, tap refresh icon.
- Rearrange items: direct drag & drop.
- Export to WordPress: per item: long press item, long press text area, copy, paste
No ads, user definable categories, manual sort order of notes available. Export to SD manually, xml only. Interaction required to see details.
- Visibility of details: title only, requires click to see details.
- Entering new items: tap "new", tap huge text field, type title, enter, type detail, tap "done"
- Modifying existing items: tap item, tap large text area, edit, tap "done"
- Rearranging items: direct drag & drop
- Export to WordPress: tap item, long tap text area, copy. Or export to xml and fiddle around with the resulting file.
After having tried all these apps, my preference for collecting and arranging ideas on Android is Thinking Space, because the arranging possibilities are by far the best.
Unparalleled switchable visibility of details.
Entering and modifying items is a bit slow, but with a bit of learning it should be as fast as the thoughts are flowing.
Because Thinking Space is capable of storing the results in Freemind format on the SD chip, it is one of the few products that are capable of exporting all items in one single go, although that requires the help of a notebook/desktop PC running Freemind.