The Swift Developer's Cookbook Review

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Although I knew there’s a “cookbook” book series, I haven’t read any of these before I read Erica Sadun’s The Swift Developer’s Handbook. The code listings are called “recipes”, and most of the time rightly so: I bet I copied about a dozen of the recipes into my own handy code snippet index to extend Swift’s capabilities with super useful things like safe Array indexes.

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Using nvALT as a Zettel Note Archive

This post has moved to Zettelkasten.de. Read it there.

I want to start this series of reviews with a software I’m fairly familiar with. While most things apply to the Notational Velocity base application, I will talk about nvALT exclusively in this review. nvALT is a fork by Brett Terpstra and David Halter of the original Notational Velocity, which was created by Zachary Schneirov, and a few modifications by yours truly. It’s Open Source, free, and very popular.

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Baseline for Zettelkasten Software Reviews

This post has moved to Zettelkasten.de. Read it there.

I’m going to take a close look at applications to find out which are suitable to implement the Zettelkasten note archive. I already talked about reference managers. While reference managers can be switched pretty easily, migrating a database of notes is far from being a trivial task, depending on the software you used in the past. Therefore, we have to chose how to implement the note archive with great care. Here you’ll find my criteria.

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nvALT review

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If you are interested in taking notes fast and reliable but never got around NV’s interface, now it’s the best time to reevaluate the situation. Introducing nvALT, the result of joint efforts of both David Halter and Brett Terpstra who united their two popular NV forks.

Praise

Two weeks ago, I switched from my own NV fork to nvALT. In this newest community-customised fork of Zachary Schneirov’s original Notational Velocity, a few neat design changes have been applied. There is a fullscreen mode, widescreen-layout (<3), word count and a shortcut to open the current file in TextMate—just to name a few of my favorites. Naturally, NV’s original features introduced in January are included as well: for example Tags are stored in OpenMeta format, meaning you can delete the Notes & Settings database file without any loss (except bookmarks), which initially make them useful for me since heavy NV customizations can render this file useless in no time.

Also, the text width is adjustable: when set to 650px with a nice and free Anonymous Pro 14pt font, you can resize the window to your liking but never exceed 78 characters. In this way, I can focus on writing notes in fullscreen mode and still be able to manually break lines at a common width. (Common in respect of ancestral terminal use and derived guidelines for composing plain text files, mails and whatnot.)

Issues

There are a few issues which I’d like to fix as soon as the source code is released.

nvALT preview

  1. The Markdown preview window style. It’s default style is just not-so-stylish at all but shows what can be accomplished when the user takes some time to modify it. I’d like to tweak the default template a bit and enhance it attractivity-wise.
  2. MultiMarkdown preview rendering ignores the whole header. Thus, every note without a header is rendered quite nicely. My fork had issues with this: every document’s first line or paragraph was assumed to be the header, hence not rendered at all. Now it’s the opposite. There is an objectively right way just in the middle: check for existing header metadata.
  3. Switch MultiMarkdown rendering engine. Fletcher himself released an incredibly fast rendering engine earlier this year, on which I reported. I want that one, cutting edge, blazing fast (live preview, that is).

Hereby, I stall my fork until nvALT’s source becomes available. Maybe I’m able to plug my desired custiomizations into this new big thing.