The Plain Text Tools I Use (2021 Edition)

The latter half of 2020 was a time of reset for me. Once again, I looked at where I was, what I was doing, and how I was doing those things. After some reflection, I decided to take a step back. That step back included re-evaluating the tools I use to work in plain text.

So, here’s a quick look at the plain text tools that I currently use:

One of the main areas in which I pared back was the text editor that I use. In 2020, I set aside Emacs and started using Gedit again. I explained why in this article. That, too, has changed in the last few months. Since switching to a Linux distribution called elementary OS last October, I've been using elementary's default editor named Code. It does most of what I need a text editor to do and I haven't (yet) found a reason to install another one.

My go-to utility for converting between markup languages is still Pandoc. It was instrumental in converting this site to HTML5 and CSS, and I’ve been using it to create ebooks from files formatted with Markdown.

Another tool that I still use is Standard Notes, which is where my digital notes go. Nowadays, I use the desktop app more than the web version. The mobile app on my phone also gets a good, regular workout, both for take notes and for kicking off the writing of drafts of articles and blog posts.

Nextcloud is still my preferred way to synchronize other plain text files between my laptop and phone. Whatever’s not in Standard Notes is in a folder in my instance of Nextcloud, which I can access anywhere.

I’ve also started getting back in to using the LaTeX typesetting language and its toolchain a bit more over the last 12 months or so. There are a number of reasons for that, but none of them are really important or life changing. Really, I just missed working with LaTeX.

This site and my my personal website are still published via GitLab Pages, and powers my other websites and blogs. My weekly letter still goes out via Buttondown. That said, I’m seriously considering moving some of my sites to Neocities — partly to support the service, and partly to further embrace what I call the DIY web.

Aside from a few small utilities and services I use infrequently, that’s my plain text toolkit. A toolkit that's not packed with everything. A toolkit that isn't complex. But for me, it’s a toolkit that's enough.