Monday, January 4, 2016

Git for Writers?

Of late, there has been some discussion about whether Git or Github might be something that would be useful for writers. Note-takers are certainly a subset of writers, or perhaps better, all writers are at some point also note-takers.

Someone is building an application called Penflip for collaborative writing. He is also presenting an argument against using "just Github." At Lifehack you find instructions on how to use versioning for writing. And on Thoughtstreams, you find a discussion of why you might or might not want to Git as an author.

The most compelling argument for using Git, I find at[1] Still, I am not tempted one bit. One of the reasons is, of course, that I prefer the way ConnectedText, the program I use, links notes. One of the other reasons is that it has versioning built in. The so-called "Diff tool" keeps different revisions of a topic. In the tool, "any two revisions can be selected to be compared in two panes below. Two topic revisions can be compared at the level of paragraph: differing paragraphs are highlighted. They can be simultaneously inspected by moving the horizontal scroll bar."

Now, you could argue that Git is safer, as it does not reside on the same hard drive. Given that I back up (or better: synchronize different computers through DropBox) every day, this is not much of a problem.

Here is my advice: If you don't use a program with built in versioning, you might want to take a look at Git or some other ways of versioning in 2016.[2]

1. The list of the discussions mentioned here is by no means exhaustive. Just do a search for "git for writers" and you will find many more.
2. I used this approach for a long time, but ultimately found it superfluous as I moved more and more of my work into ConnectedText.


Nick said...

I wouldn't be surprised if ConnectedText uses Git, or some other similar version control system, as a back-end tool for managing diffs and versions. This is nice for users of ConnectedText as it eliminates the need to learn a version control tool. You only need to use ConnectedText, and let it manage the versioning for you.

This is the philosophy behind tools such as Draft ( - Version control is a good thing to have, but it can be intimidating to learn.

I tend to think that using a tool which manages versioning for you is the best option for most people.

Nick said...

I forgot to mention that Zim is another application that can manage Git versioning for you, although the integration is not as good as ConnectedText.

Stephen Zeoli said...

Just want to say I'm very happy to see Taking Note still in action in 2016. Thank you for reconsidering your decision, and happy note taking to all!

EMauro said...

CT does not use git or any other VCS. It has its own. git is great but it has a lot of things that are not required by CT.