I do most of my work, reading and communications from within Emacs. I also use Org mode as a daily driver for everything from project management to time tracking, sending quotes, creating and presenting slides and much more. For my personal project management, I use the system "Getting things done". For GTD to work properly, it's prudent to have an inbox with you at all times. That's feasible even with pen and paper. In fact, I used a Hipster PDA for quite some time. This worked well when I was young, and started my first job after university. But at some point, I had more stuff to track than I could reasonably carry with me at all times. In a perfect world, it would be best to carry the complete GTD system including reference material, as well. Luckily, we do live in the best of worlds. With the advent of smartphones, there's no end to the capacity of what kinds of digital stuff we can carry around.

For about 5 years, I used the proprietary tools Things for GTD and Evernote for reference material. Life was good. Until it wasn't. With different upgrades of macOS or the tools that I've bought, the integration points faltered. Links between the apps stopped working, creating new links took half a minute, data got lost or had to be re-entered. I also had to re-buy the software multiple times, because the new version wasn't just an upgrade, but a completely new app whilst the old one stopped working. Something like this happens quite frequently. For example, last month Microsoft shut down the popular application Wunderlist which they only just bought 4 years ago. 4 years is not a long halftime to build up a trusted system.

I'm not ranting about having to pay for software. In fact, I'm very happy to pay for it. Writing software is also what I do for a living. However, software should empower certain freedoms. For example, I didn't have the freedom to study how these apps worked and to fix what was broken. I didn't have the freedom to keep running an old version when I liked that one better than the new one. These issues are intrinsic to how macOS and iOS native apps function. There's little one can do about it.

For these and other reasons, I'm using Debian full time since about 5 years, again. That's what I was happily using before my macOS stint and it still makes me happy.

Emacs and Org mode have superseded Things and Evernote for me. It's not only Free Software (see the GNU definition for what that entails), it enables my most critical information to be more easily managed in text files using version control. That means, I'll always have an easy upgrade path. Or I can just keep using the software I'm now using forever.

There's loads of good and great documentation and success stories out there concerning Emacs and Org mode. For example, at 200ok, we've written about both(Emacs, Org Mode) before. We're so happy with this stack, that we even co-organized EmacsConf 2019.

On to the topic at hand. Emacs is great, but it's desktop software. What are the options to edit Org Mode files whilst on the go on an iPhone? For the past year, I've been a partially happy user of Beorg. It's a native iOS app. When it was new, I couldn't use it, because after parsing and writing my 10k LOC of Org Mode files, they were completely messed up. I did donate a couple times to the project, though, because I liked the idea of having such an app on my phone. And happily enough, the author kept working on it (which is uncertain for closed source apps) and it got to the point where I could use it. Using it still entails certain problems. For example, Beorg indents certain Org features differently within the Org file which constantly results in a bigger than needed diff. There's other things that I could mention, but I do not want to rant about the work of another developer who I'm very grateful to.

However, Beorg is closed source. Even though it uses Org markup , it still shares some of the traits of Things. I cannot fix what is broken for me, I have to pay for upgrades, I cannot read the code and understand what the application is doing with my data, I cannot improve the software for my own workflows and I always have the uncertainty that it will stop working when the author discontinues to compile it for upcoming versions of iOS. The latter is a real issue, too. For example, Apple pulled a lecture capture application we've build last month. It was feature complete, so we haven't changed it in three years, but there was a steady user base. Well, that is until Apple pulled the App from their store. And getting it updated with their new requirements is non-trivial and will likely not happen any time soon, because there's other things to do.

For this reason, we have started https://github.com/200ok-ch/organice. organice is a Free and Open Source implementation of Org mode without the dependency of Emacs. It is built for mobile and desktop browsers and syncs with Dropbox, GitLab, WebDAV and Google Drive.

At 200ok, we run an instance of organice at https://organice.200ok.ch, which is open for anyone to use! organice does not have a back-end (it's just a front-end application, which uses different back-end storage providers). We don't store any kind of data on our servers - we also don't use analytics on organice.200ok.ch.

Documentation: https://organice.200ok.ch/documentation.html

Community chat: #organice on IRC Libera.Chat, or #organice:matrix.org on Matrix

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Lastly, some impressions of organice in action:

My main GTD file, completely folded

Drilling down into one sub header

Example of a daily agenda