Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Working In Plain Text On the Web with TextDrop

One of the key tools for living life in plain text is a text editor. The beauty of a text editor is that it’s a very flexible tool. And just about every operating system —Linux, MacOS, and Windows —comes with one.

But what happens if you’re using a computer that doesn’t pack a text editor, or one that doesn’t belong to you? You turn to the web, of course.

Over the years, I’ve tried a number of online text editors. Most of them were quite good, but the problem was that they tended to pack more features that I’d ever use. And if you’ve been reading this space for a while, you know that I tried to avoid as much unnecessary overhead as much as possible.

Which is why I turn to TextDrop. Wondering why? Then read on.

TextDrop: The Basics

As I mentioned, it’s a web-based text editor. TextDrop’s developer describes it as:

… the fastest way to edit text files in your Dropbox using a web browser. It’s meant to be used in situations where you don’t have Dropbox installed.

Yes, you read that correctly. TextDrop gets access to your Dropbox account and from there, you can dip into any folder you have and edit text. And what they by where you don’t have Dropbox installed is the desktop client for Dropbox. The piece of software that lets you synchronize files between your desktop and the web.

And that’s why I like using TextDrop. I don’t sync all of my Dropbox folders with my desktop, and there’s no desktop client for my Chromebook. TextDrop lets me access and edit my files (including the posts for this blog) from whatever computer I’m using.

The Features I Find Useful

TextDrop isn’t overloaded with features. Which suits me just fine. But of the features it has, I find the following ones useful:

First off, the integration with Dropbox integration. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Using TextDrop, I can create, rename, and delete files as I need to. On top of that, I can share files via Dropbox to let other view, comment, or edit them.

Next up, support for Markdown. Again, no surprise why I like that. TextDrop’s support is actually for MultiMarkdown but I’m not going to quibble. When you format a file with Markdown, you can drag the right pane of the TextDrop window over and get a nicely-rendered preview of how your document will look on the web.

And in a nice bit of integration between TextDrop and Dropbox, you can publish a file to your Dropbox Public folder. It’s converted to HTML, so it renders nicely on the web.

Anything Else?

If there’s there are two features I’d like to see in TextDrop, they would be would be syntax highlighting for Markdown and word count. While those features would be a nice touch, but they’re not deal breakers.

While it used to be free, TextDrop is now a paid app. It’ll cost you (at the time I published this post) $8.00 (USD) per year to use. The price increases or decreases by a small amount as the number of active users increases or decreases. And as TextDrop’s developer notes:

Your yearly renewal price will be locked in at the price you paid when you first signed up

TextDrop has become an essential tool for me. It’s another element in my drive to live my digital life in plain text. It does what it’s supposed to and does it well.

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