Journler: Blog

Journler development ends, Sprouted shutting down

Journler development has ended, effective immediately. Support will continue indefinitely.

It was over four years ago while I was living in Austria that I began working on Journler. I had recently broken up with my girlfriend and had waxed nostalgic about our relationship on my blog. A post inadvertently offended her. The event deeply upset me and I forswore blogging, but I still wanted to write in a digital format. I researched the available private journaling software for the Mac and wasn’t pleased with the options, so I decided to try my hand at creating one of my own.

Those of you who have been with Journler so long will recall the breakneck pace at which early development took place. At the time I was a teaching assistant in the Austrian school system. I worked twelve hours to a week and was able to dedicate a great deal of time to the program. I reckon I worked more than forty hours a week on Journler for a couple of years even as I held my regular job. It was as though teaching were a hobby and programming my work.

I did not charge for Journler. My teaching position, though requiring so few hours of my day, paid quite well, and I did not need the money. I was just excited to be writing a program and to be sharing it with others. I was excited to receive thanks and suggestions and to know that the program was useful to so many. I was excited to see a community flourishing around an application I had envisioned and executed. And I was an active member of that community, regularly contributing to the forum, fielding questions and posting updates. I accepted only donations for the work, not of the monetary kind, but books and movies.

Journler grew. It was a feature download at Apple. Macworld gave it an excellent review and it was discussed in a number of US and international publications. The program was translated into five or six languages. The user base grew exponentially, almost all of it by word of mouth. I participated in Google Adwords for a short time but otherwise I never advertised. Folks loved Journler and told their friends, family and colleagues.

I attribute the downfall of Journler to its success. As the number of users grew so too did the problems. In response to feature requests the program’s code became exceedingly complex. Bloat crept in. The volume of emails increased to a level I was not able to manage. The forum exploded with activity and I was no longer able to read let alone address every post. The support requirements were becoming too much. I would spend hours helping a user with damaged data. It would take me days to track down an esoteric bug a single user was experiencing which I could not reproduce. I could easily spend all my time on support alone. I needed to hire extra help but was in something of a bind. I was still not charging for the application. I had in fact promised that I would never charge for Journler. But as my job ended I broke that promise and began explicitly to request that users purchase the program.

For the past two years I have struggled to live on those volunteer purchases while working on the next major iteration of the program. I have made enough to live a relatively frugal life but never enough to hire help, and even after I had decided to take the next step and begin charging for Journler, I couldn’t do it without releasing the next major upgrade in which I would implement the shareware lock and so enforce the licensing policy. Help wouldn’t come until I reached that point, but I needed help to get there. I have not been able to figure out a way out of this problem. The difficulties have overwhelmed and depressed me. Consequently everything about the application has suffered, in turn re-enforcing those difficulties. Something had to change.

Emotionally I have been exhausted for many months now, but only in the last few months have I reached a financial breaking point. I am no longer able to live on income from Journler. Purchases have fallen below a sustainable level. I have borrowed from friends and family to keep going and have still not made enough progress. Were I a business I would be on the verge of declaring bankruptcy. I had hoped to push through, recently announcing that I would open source a substantial portion of Journler’s code. It is now apparent to me that I am not able to continue with that effort.

Unhappily I must announce that I am ending work on Journler, effective immediately. All development has ceased. I will not be releasing any further updates, and it is unlikely I will release updates to the already open sourced segments of the code.

I will continue to support Journler users indefinitely, that is, I do not have a timeframe for ending that support, although I imagine it will come eventually. I have hundreds of unanswered emails many of them months old to address as well as a still active online community with which to work. In fact, all of my Journler related energy will be focused here. I will make time as I am able, necessarily working around the regular employment which I am now in search of.

I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in Journler for the past four years, especially a number of unnamed individuals who contributed more than their fare share: translators, web masters, apple script geniuses, designers, editors, nanotechnologists, beta testers, friends, family and the many volunteers who took to the forums to help others in my absence. Journler has an awesome community of users and that has certainly brought the most pleasure to my work. There are tens of thousands of you. I never thought something like that could be possible. Thank you.

Finally, I would like to hold out a last hope that Journler will continue in one form or another. If you or someone you know may be interested in picking up Journler where I have left off, please contact me. I would love to see Journler once again thrive in the hands of a capable developer or team.

~Philip Dow
Sprouted, Journler, 2005-2009

22 Responses to “Journler development ends, Sprouted shutting down”

  1. pmccarvalho Says:

    I was really sad when I read this words! I have been using journler every single day for almost 4 years now. My first entry it’s dated 3/11/2005. Before Journler I tried every single journal application available to the Mac and I was really happy to find Journler, so that I made a review of it to the Mac Review Cast.

    It is really sad seeing the best Journal app ever dying like this. It’s the end of a journey and probably is time to change to another app… or maybe someone will take Journler to another level!

    Phil I hope everything is Ok with your life, and even if Journler really dies the last 4 years journey was just great… Thank you very much for you brilliant work and support. I really believe the future reserves wonderful things for you.

    All the best


  2. mikenet's me2DAY Says:

    마이크의 생각…

    Journler for Mac OS X 개발 중단 소식입니다. 아쉽네요. 대신할 만한 앱 좀 추천해 주세요. 맥저널? 프리웨어면 좋은데……

  3. gershwin Says:

    Hi Phil,

    mate I’m really sorry to hear you’re throwing in the towel on this one. But from what you’ve written on the blog, it doesn’t look like you had much of an option.

    I just wanted to say a big thank you for the all the effort and time you’ve been put into Journler. It’s an awesome little (big, really) app you’ve made. I love the back story into why you created it in the first place!! (i hope you and your ex sorted it out in the end.)

    anyway, I’m sure, and i f-ing pray, someone will pick it up from where you left off, and I know it’s not about the money for you, but perhaps you could get a little cash out of it ;)

    good god i’m not looking forward to getting all my stuff off Journler if it becomes incompatible with a future OS.

    best of luck for the future!!!

  4. kafene Says:

    Philip, I wish you the best of luck. I’ve been using Journler for several years now, from the free version to the paid license, and I must say that it is a great program. You and the people that have helped have done a wonderful job and I feel bummed that it didn’t work out the way you (or I) would have liked. Journler is a wonderful product and I hope that someone sees the potential and picks up the development.

    Good luck in all your other endeavors!!

  5. faildisk Says:

    If someone where to request the source, would they be allowed to re-release the project under a new licence, like the GPL?

    I love this program and won’t let it die.

  6. Sourmash Says:

    I’d like to thank you for taking so much time to create such a great program. I recently started using it and I love it, so thank you again.

  7. christophe Says:


    I’m been trying this soft for a couple of week I find it excellent - I can compare it to Evernote. It’s so bad you decided to end the developpement, the market of note this kind of soft is large.

    I think this soft isn’t as much known as it should.

    Is there something to change your mind ; maybe a better communication strategy - the social networks are a good way to promote goods products. I use to be sent much rss feed of soft releases from professionnals blogs.

    I’m registred on many of this blogs and each of them generate many web visits.

    If a can do something for you, please let me know

    A french friendly user

  8. Hayertjez Says:

    Just a word of thanks for this wonderful program. Its my best working and also my favorite program.
    And I understand why you are quitting. And I hope that there is some one willing to continue the support of this program.

  9. dimitri.visser Says:

    Darn, missed this announcement.

    Thanks for the great software Philip!

    Good luck with your future endeavors.

  10. criscom Says:

    Hi Philip,

    I am very sorry to hear that you are abandoning Journler. I have bought a licence back in 2007 when it was still free to use and, honestly, your software was more than worth that money. It’s been my most important tool on my Mac and the best app among many I have ever used. I will use Journler as long as possible even though it is no longer maintained. Thanks for a really great app!

    Chris from Austria

  11. David Sasaki Says:

    Best of luck on the job search Philip and thanks for all your work over the past four months. I wish I had been using RescueTime over the past four years so that I could tell you how much time I’ve spent using your program … I am sure that it is hundreds if not thousands of hours. I will continue to do so and I hope that development is picked up.

  12. GJHC Says:

    I used Daymaker for 15 years, 4D for 12 & I will probably be using Journler for nearly as long - so sorry it has turned this way for you & your program. It is now the mainstay of my information management system on my mac, for my work and my ministry, still nothing I like better.
    Thanks for what it has meant for me & my family. God’s blessings for you in the future.

    Graham from Australia

  13. bmunch Says:


    whatever you do, and wherever you head, know that you created exceptional software that others like me used and benefited tremendously from.

    thank you, thank you and thank you for the hard work that you contributed to this project.

    may your next steps be fruitful.

  14. synth01 Says:

    I love Journler! The app is amazing. And the possibilities are astounding. So you went about it wrong. That’s okay, it can still live on in someone else’s hands. There’s nothing wrong with that. If I had Cocoa skills I’d seriously dedicate time every week to it. I bet other people would, too, if it were open sourced.

    I totally respect that you’re done with Journler. I think that’s great and right. You did your duty spectacularly by building it. You filled a need that obviously thousands of people had. And now you’re done with your part of the relay. You shouldn’t expect to run the whole race yourself.

    The project needs to be proactively handed off to someone. I’m sure someone would take it: a company, a GPL group, someone. I mean, if it had more marketing, the user base would take off. Why wouldn’t it be handled somewhat like Wordpress and Firefox? Granted, it’s apple-specific, but the functionality, in my view, is almost as universal. I use Journler every single day. Good integration with Wordpress would open up a whole new crowd (and wouldn’t be too difficult, in the long run). Your ideas for lex would mean the next generation in OS file system infrastructure, and that’s no exageration.

    I’ve meant to comment about this on the forums for months, begging you to hand it to someone. It’s just too good to abandon it!

  15. yeidel Says:


    I’m so sorry about the news, though I understand the pressures that led to your decision. Journler was a favorite tool of mine in the 1.x days. I used to for lyrics and scratch recordings as I was writing songs, as well as for intimate occasional notes. It was wonderfully easy to use.

    After a few machine migrations, I needed to upgrade to 2.x. For some reason, the migration wasn’t straightforward (I forget just why and how), and I just set it aside. A couple of years past, with “Fix Journler” on my to-do list.

    This year, i finally got it together, and installed the 2.x and got my old Journler content converted. Then I went to the site for news, only to see your notice. Even though you are stopping development, I paid for a license, because even a static product of this quality is worth that to me.

    Once that day comes when I have to get onto a system on which Journler won’t run, I’m pretty confident that I will be able to migrate the content out of Journler storage into whatever is next. Until then, I’m a big fan and user.

    Thanks, Philip. Never kid yourself, you have won a great victory. I only hope you got out before the damage was too severe.

    – Joshua

  16. costas Says:

    Phil, I would like to thank you for producing Journler and supporting it up to now. It’s an amazing piece of software, no other way to describe it. I would like to underline “faildisk”’s comment. If noone steps in to buy the code in the next few months, it would be fantastic if it was released, all of it, under an open source license. I bet that plenty of people would be interested to keep it going.

    I am using Journler for years now, and I’m proud to say I was one of the people who donated. I only found out today that the software will no longer be developed, and freaked out on the possibility that in some future Mac OS update I will not be able to access my data any more because Journler might be incompatible. I spent the day researching all options: Yojimbo, Together, EagleFiler, Notae, DevonThink, you name it. NONE comes EVEN CLOSE to the beauty, elegance and sense that Journler is. So please, please, please, consider releasing the source to the world, and allowing Journler to thrive for the years to come.

  17. anr Says:

    Just wanted to say thanks a lot for the hard work during the years. Journler was and continue to be great!

    Best wishes on everything

    Andreas from Denmark

  18. angiewu Says:

    Philip, your journler changed my life and made me so happy. You are a great person, I can tell from your writings. I wish you all the best in whatever you do, wherever you are. Someone like you will always end up finding true happiness. Never give up :)
    and never feel guilty or regret for anything you chose to do or to let go. You should live your life as you please, you don’t own anyone anything. Enjoy your life, you deserve it.


  19. mlgoodson Says:

    Hi Phil,

    I just thought I would pipe in that while it’s always sad to see a great product like Journler end it’s development, you have left us with a great product that I use nearly every day. That’s a great legacy and something to be very proud of. Thank you for all of your effort.

    Best of luck in the future,

  20. rockem Says:

    It’s a shame
    I don’t understand why don’t you make the software GPL ?
    open up the software as open source and you’ll get all the help you need
    in code and support

    wish you all the luck

  21. jzumsteg Says:

    Like others, I am sorry to hear of the demise of Journler. It was the first program I bought for my new Mac Pro a couple years ago and it’s the best of its kind.

    I came upon this entry when I went looking for Journler for my newly-purchased MacBook. I will now go straight to the “buy” site and pay for another license so I can have it on my MacBook. I hope you can make enough to support it, but I understand the economics of software development (heck, I’ve written a few iPhone apps, so I really understand the economics!).

    I wish you luck in whatever you decide to do, and thank you again for Journler.

    John - Seattle

  22. Yizhen Says:

    Dear Phil,

    Hi, I’ve been using your Journler as an electronic lab notebook to keep track of my experimental data and I must say it’s one of the best software I’ve ever found for scientific research. Journler allows me to log my experiments by date, cross-reference to other previous experiments, store the relevant data file (.doc, .xls etc) on the same entry and then TAG them so I can create smart folder to file them neatly. So all my data are easily searchable, exportable and printable. It’s simply fantastic! It ticks all the boxes in terms of my dream electronic notebook. I think it’s one essential software that I’d recommend to any new Mac user researcher, along with mekentosj Papers.

    Having said that, I’m saddened to see that you are no longer developing this further. I really love your software and I would really like to thank you! You’ve really designed one of the best electronic lab notebooks out there, and I believe that there’s a demand and market out there for your software still. I will continue to use your software as long as I can (I’ve even put of upgrading to snow leopard so that I can continue to use your software!)

    I would like to wish you all the best in your future endeavours.


    PS: If you ever need someone to provide a writeup for the use of Journler for scientific research, I
    be happy to provide one.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Copyright © 2006-2007 Journler. Some rights reserved       Contact: Phil | Evan Agee (Webmaster)