FoldingText 3


A quick note to say it’s a real pleasure as a user to have a developer be so open about their plans and receptive to feedback from their users. Good luck going forward.


I’m also really happy to see FoldingText will live on! Thanks for your continued work on the app, Mutahhir.

FT2’s features are essentially perfect for me as-is. It’s transformed the way I organize my thoughts — and really, the way I think. I get a tremendous amount of value out of it.

However, FT2 crashes so often now (10+ times a day) that it’s become frustrating to use. But I can’t find an alternative with the features I’ve grown to love. I get so much use out of it that I’d pay a subscription to keep FT2 maintained. I think you deserve to continue getting paid for your work without the pressure of adding new features.

That said, I’m absolutely in support of an FT3. In case you’re curious, here are the things about FT2 that I love (that no other app I know of can do), and that I’d be disappointed to lose:

  1. folding and focusing
  2. saving as plain text (so I can use the same files with Dropbox, IFTTT, and Drafts
  3. hiding Markdown syntax
  4. clickable links
  5. the nearly-invisible UI


I think what we have here is a disconnect between what you, the developer, thinks the app is for and what we, most customers, use it for. You want FT to become a note-taking, scribble pad. We use it for text manipulation of (mostly) existing files (or at least existing contexts/directories). That’s the strength of FT! Always was! That’s what sold us FT in the first place!

I was a big proponent of FT acquiring file navigation. My goal was to use it like a code editor: drop a folder on the Dock icon and instantly have that folder become the “root” of my editor. If that’s gone, I’m gone as I’m sure many others will be too.

Now, this “disconnect” is nothing new. I think FT has always had a bit of an identity crisis: it’s not just a text editor but it’s not Taskpaper either, it’s not just a note-taking app but it has strong note-taking features, etc… I “blame” that as the main reason why FoldingText is not up there with iA Writer or Byword. I honestly prefer FoldingText for writing over those two… I love how it hides the Markdown syntax, showing clean yet formatted Markdown text. This identity crisis was probably why Jesse lost interest in its development too!

You’re free to make the app you want, but this is an existing app, with many years of usage for some of us, and you can’t expect a lot of us to be interested in its future development if you dramatically change what the app does. It’s nothing against you or your ideas, but a dramatic change might be better received as a new app. If FT becomes Bear, it will be competing with Bear. The interesting thing here is that if any other native writing app opts to hide Markdown like FT does and if FT becomes a note-taking, database-driven Electron (ewww!) app, I have no reason to continue using and rooting for FT. At that point, I rather use and support a much more established app that stuck to its purpose from the start. It’s just a better investment of my time.

Lastly, I have nothing against a subscription system, but I feel like this move to a database is entirely driven by the creation of a “need” to justify that subscription system. FT is a powerful but SIMPLE app. It’s not where I spend most of my time, especially now that a lot of my writing is done on the iPad (like many others have stated). But it’s my go-to app on my Mac, which is still my main device, where I spend most of my day. An Electron app is a sub-par app, that uses a lot more memory and is generally slower and feels “odd” on my Mac. FT is an app that I keep open and use it sparingly (usually to make quick edits on files I started writing on my iPad, on another Markedown file-based app). If FT moves to a DB, it loses its purpose so why would I subscribe?

I really don’t want this to sound like I’m ranting too much and complaining. That is absolutely not my goal here. I know it’s a bit wordy, but it’s just stream of conscienceness, my personal feedback about this announcement. If you do decide to go ahead with this direction (as it seems you have), I do hope you succeed and FT becomes a widely used and paid for app. It deserves as much!! I just will, sadly, looking for a new alternative that fits my current use-case for FT.

Good night, and good luck! :vulcan_salute:

PS: I never said I wouldn’t be interested in your vision of FT3. It seems like a Markdown-driven version of… which is a free app. I’ve tried Bear, and I love its design, but like I said above, I want a file-driven Markdown writing app. For quick notes and scribbles I use Apple’s Notes… because it’s free, fulfills its purpose, and works fine. Sometimes I’ll write down an idea for a post there, and then move it to a Markdown file editor (ATM, iA on my iPad, FT on my Mac) when I’m ready to actually start working on the document. Just like I can’t justify paying for Bear now, I don’t think I’ll be able to justify paying for FT3 later… which was what the above comment was all about… :wink:


Hi Mutahhir,

Thanks for this update! I’m late to this party, but agree with many of the concerns voiced above concerning the prohibitive database, and threat of losing the features that make the app what it is. If memory serves, it was the announcement of a sharp change in direction for FoldingText – along with a rather sharp reaction from users! :slight_smile: – that originally led to Jesse stepping back and you stepping forward. Those issues had to do with a commitment to portable and plain text, Markdown and a non-native redevelopment. Given the way I and many others use the app, I had quietly hoped we had put that behind us several years’ ago, but it seems all this is back on the table. I know this advance announcement has been precipitated by complaints about the long silence, but I’d love to be part of the conversation now you’re here! I also appreciate from the replies here that you imagine FoldingText continuing to do certain things that Bear and other existing apps cannot, but I think it highly likely those things would amount to bells and whistles that will have users reaching for other utilities to use in tandem with existing apps, given that these are advanced and very well established, and FoldingText would have shed most of its flexibility and utility. With all due gratitude and respect for the fact that the app is your creation (!), the comments above about the disconnect between developers and users seems to me to be a valid concern.

You write:

some existing features of FoldingText 2 may not be available at launch.

Given these concerns, I guess the most productive followup question would be to ask: when you say that, (1) which do you mean? (2) and will they all be back?

For example, will FoldingText no longer have theme support?
Will it have plugin support?
Will it have AppleScript support?
If it loses any of the above, will it be replaced by something that provides the features – e.g. filter panel, wiki links, styled tags – on which a good proportion of users additionally depend?
Will it be driven by Markdown?
Will it have live and hidden formatting?

I rather suspect that in addition to modes and folding/filtering, these features are some of the most useful and distinctive. Personally, I know that without provision for wiki links, the filter panel and the extensible theming, the app would fall out of use fast with or without a database structure – and I suspect that in that I am not alone.




Reading the comments, maybe you want to “fork” this.

  1. fix and update the FoldingText 2x so it works in 2018. Plenty of users love it as it is.
    Call it FT Lite
  2. make the FoldingText database-whatever that is your dream.
    Call it FT Pro

See which wins in the marketplace.

But the longer this sits, the more users will move on to other actively-maintained apps. Just saying…
Wishing you the best in this project, but I am moving on.




I came on board with FoldingText back in the early days and it’s main attraction for me was plain text outlining (the task management features were less important for me personally). Over time it became clear that first Jesse and then Mutahhir saw the FT USP as something different. And they’re the developers of FT so it’s their prerogative as to the direction FT takes.

I haven’t used FT on a regular basis for quite some time but keep an eye on Hogbay activities as I’ll ever be interested in where FT and TP are heading (particularly with regards to plain text based workflows). It goes without saying that FT3 is moving even further away from what initially attracted me to FT but I’ll keep and open mind as to what v3 brings.

I understand that for FT3 to be a sustainable business it may need to attract a new audience altogether but much like others have mentioned, I agree that the database driven Markdown market is already congested (both with and without built in task management features) and many of those applications have become exceptionally polished over time so I’m not sure a new product will have much in the way of goodwill with regards to being ‘rough round the edges’.

I think it’s fair to say that FT customers have had to put up with a fair amount of roughness and stability issues over the years (it’s part of the reason that FT2 was offered as a free upgrade in the first place); but the reason these issues weren’t deal breakers was that there was a tangible sense of FT being a shared journey between the developer and its customers. By going in such a radically different direction (Hogbay for me was built on ‘plain text productivity’ and a sense that data should always be open and transferable), that sense of ‘shared journey’ is likely to be severed for many, especially for those of us who’ve been around since the v1 pre-release days.

I work across OS X, Linux and Windows and the attraction of OS X and Linux was always that UNIX guiding principle of lots of small highly focused programs working together towards holistic goals. Both OS X in general and the applications available for OS X seem to moving further and further away from it’s UNIX root’s. Whilst ironically Windows now allows you to install a Linux subsystem very much built around text file manipulation. TaskPaper and FT always felt very UNIX like in terms of their design goals but over time FT seems to have mutated. Having said all that, as I mentioned before, I’ll keep an open mind and judge FT3 once it’s available in the wild. Maybe it can keep that classic UNIX feel of ‘working best with others’ whilst becoming a ‘closed’ database driven application. When you look at applications like Keyboard Maestro, BBEdit, the OmniGroup apps and Scrivener, it shows that it is possible to make products with closed aspects that are still very open and true to OS X’s UNIX roots. Hopefully FT3 will succeed in this way too.


As an afterthought I thought it worthwhile to mention the application that has most caught my attention this year with regards to getting things done with plain text. And that’s The Archive.

If you haven’t already taken a look, I recommend downloading the 60 day demo version. It’s little more than a wonderfully polished version of Brett Terpstra’s nvALT. But the things it’s added are highly focused and totally in sync with NValt’s original design goals. And in many ways it feels very much an extension of Jesse’s original goals regarding plain text productivity.

The welcome note in The Archive is worth reading, particularly the stuff around Software Agnosticism. I’ve copy pasted below an extended quote from a recent review, which does a great job of explaining why this is important (I’ve linked to the review itself too).

None of this is to say that what you have planned sucks. I’m eager to see what happens with FT3. But I’m really hoping that you provide an open plain text system even if it’s wrapped with a database. Ulysses after much badgering from their customers made their system more open than say Bear (it’s still not ideal but at least they’ve budged a little). Anybody that I’ve spoken too has been concerned by the Electron/Database combination for FT3 as it potentially describes a lock-in system that attempts that puts a veil over the users data. Subscriptions in and of themself aren’t a bad thing if they provide value but systems that veil a users content (from both the user and other 3rd party applications) are exceptionally bad IMO and go completely against the goals of using plain text in the first place.

If the system is going to be veiled, you might as well use OneNote.

Bicycle For You Mind Review
Software Agnosticism

…In simple words, this approach to software development has some discrete outcomes for the consumer which are easy to see:

  • The goal of the product is to solve a problem. The problem in this case is note-taking and the goal of the product is to solve the problem through the implementation of the Zettelkästen method to the task of note-taking. The Archive is optimized to fit this problem.

  • There is no lock-in. The end product of the file is plain text files. You can use any text editor you want to access and create these text files. Doesn’t have to be The Archive. You are not dependent on The Archive for the continued access to your files. You can move on to another solution if that appears to be the best decision. This lets the user be in control of their destiny and not dependent on the vagaries of the software marketplace. If tomorrow something happens to The Archive or the developers do something to the product which makes it incompatible to my goals, I can take the collection of text files to any other program which fits my needs better without any friction. Very different from the Microsoft, Adobe and Apple way of doing software design.


Hi all,

The version of FoldingText 3 announced above is no longer being pursued, due to overwhelmingly negative feedback. I’m going to post another topic on future plans, stay tuned :wink: