I have found a nice workflow that allows me to keep all my reference material, writings and todo lists in a collection of plain text files, while taking advantage of the benefits of several great applications like nvALT, Elements and Taskpaper.
Maybe my setup can benefit someone else so I will describe it in detail.
Since I want to access my information from different devices, I use Dropbox.
I keep all my information in simple text files in one folder. A strict naming convention and the integrated search function in all my applications allow me to find every file with ease.
I use a consistent title syntax for all my notes : “blogpost - title of the blogpost” “project name - title of the document”
My reference material (meeting notes, project research, …) and my writings (blog posts, email drafts, …) are all written using MultiMarkdown and my todo lists use the Taskpaper syntax.
The markdown files have a “.md” extension and the taskpaper files have a .txt extension. This way I can view all files in general iOs text editors and only show the relevant todo lists in the iOs version of Taskpaper.
Using dropbox with nvALT requires that certain settings are in place.
Open the preferences and go to the “Notes” section
Choose the Dropbox folder as the storage location for the notes
Go to the “Storage” tab and choose “Plain Text Files” as the format for the notes
Add “.md” and “.markdown” as recognized file extensions (On Lion the + icon is hidden, you can click and add new extensions but the icon is not visible)
On iPhone and iPad I use Elements to consult and edit my notes.
I made sure the linked folder for Elements is the same as the folder used to store the nvALT notes. I also changed the default extension to “.md” for new files created on the go.
When interacting with my todo lists I prefer using Taskpaper (on mac and on iOs) to take advantage from the nice formatting options, the shortcuts and my custom setup.
Once again, I changed the linked folder to the same Dropbox location. I also limit the recognized file types to “.taskpaper” and “.txt” files so that the iOs app does not get cluttered with other files.
For long documents I sometimes use the “Edit with …” command in nvALT to open the document in Byword.
For Professional documents I use Marked with a custom CSS style which allows me to create great looking PDF documents.
I also wrote a shell script that shows the upcoming tasks in my todo lists.
for filename in /Users/gunther/Dropbox/Elements/*.txt
grep "^[[:space:]]*-" "$filename" | grep -v @done | egrep '@today|@due' | sed 's/^[[:space:]]*//'
I use this script in Geektool and as an Alfred extension that shows the upcoming tasks via Growl.