Grandma Searches for Journaling Software

Published September 25, 2020

Recently I’ve been spending time searching for a program to replace FrameMaker as my journaling software. In my last post, I explain why. My old FrameMaker version 6 won’t work together with my new Windows 10 Pro mini PC (I give more details in an earlier post). My attempt to install the old program generates a “Projector Skeleton” error and won’t install. I’ve looked around for a solution and couldn’t find one. So, I’ve got to say goodbye to FrameMaker and find something new.

Software Error

Because I have a 2,500-page document that FrameMaker handled without an issue, I want my replacement to do the same. Programs like Word, Docs, and OpenOffice just couldn’t do it. So my search began.

My Requirements

Ideally, I’d like the following:

  • A program that could easily handle a 2,500-page document
  • Inexpensive
  • An offline program that is accessible when using various devices (sounds contradictory, right?)
  • Easy enough to use so I can hit the ground running. No steep learning curve.

Modified Requirements

I quickly realized that opening a 2,500 FrameMaker document in any other program is not going to happen. FrameMaker’s proprietary format does not allow that. So, I decided to save the current journal as a .pdf file or several .pdf files. This way I’ll always have access to my old entries. Beginning October 1, 2020, I’ll start anew with a new program.


I guess change is good. It helps with brain neuroplasticity, as does the DVORAK keyboard - Thanks for the reminder Kai :) . And, if I can’t find a satisfactory replacement, I can always use my old computer that still has FrameMaker installed. But, who wants to go backward. Time to test new grounds...and test I did.

Back Tracking a Little

Before I detail the programs I tested, I think I need to give just a little history on why I ended up using FrameMaker.

A lifetime ago I was a technical writer. I wrote large documents for software programs. Initially, I used good old-fashioned Microsoft Word. I found, however, that the larger the document got, the less reliable Word was. There's nothing worse than having a perfectly formatted large document with tables, headers, footers, and images go kablooey upon saving.

Tech Writer

After wasting an untold amount of time correcting and reformatting documents, I realized using Microsoft Word was counterproductive, so I searched for an alternative. That alternative was FrameMaker. I talked my company into purchasing it and I’ve been a fan ever since. Therefore, when I started journaling, FrameMaker was my software of choice.

Using FrameMaker for journaling is like putting on a prom dress (makeup and all) to take out the trash. It's overkill. FrameMaker has more features than I need, but it was able to handle large documents and I wanted a hiccup-free journaling experience. Yes, I do have a table of contents, headers, footers, hyperlinks, and images in my journal (once a tech writer, always a tech writer), but using complex software such as FrameMaker isn’t absolutely necessary to handle the task of journaling.

Going forward, I don't need such a heavy hitter. I do, however, want something that's going to handle what I give it. Now that I've told my history let's go forward.

Programs I Tested

As I started testing one program, it would lead me to another. Below is a list of the programs that came up in my search. Some I’ve tested and some I didn’t. No sense in testing something when I can see right off the bat, it just wasn’t something I wanted.

Since FrameMaker was a publishing software, that's where I started my search. As time went on, I found there was a beautiful thing called journaling software. That's where my search ended.

Here we go:

  1. Manuskript: I tested Manusakript first. It’s an open-source program so that means it’s free. I downloaded and installed the program, but just could not figure it out so I deleted it.
  1. Then I came across Focus Writer. It’s a distraction-free writing app. Not what I was looking for.Journal with LibreOffice
  1. Libre Office:  Another open-source program. I think of it as a free version of Microsoft Office. It has a lot of great features but doesn’t fit my needs. What I do like, however, is that using their word processing program (Write), I can modify PDFs. I tested it by opening a large 1200-page .pdf to see if it could handle it. It took a while to open, but it worked. I was able to modify some of the text and save the new .pdf. I’m keeping this program in my writing/computing arsenal.
  1. Zoho Writer: Comparable to Word and Docs. It’s also free. With Zoho Writer, you can work on or offline. It’s compatible with Windows, iOS, and Linux. It seems cool, but unfortunately, it’s not what I’m looking for.
  1. yWriter:  This is a free program. It’s a program for true writers. When I say true writers, I mean novelists, screenwriters, and the like. It has features that help with character development, storyboards for ideas, and a host of other tools for writers. Actually, after downloading this software, I started wondering if I had a book in me. It made me want to start developing characters, scenes, and so forth. Who knows...maybe one day.Scrivener
  1. Scrivener: This program reminded me of yWriter, but it’s yWriter on steroids. I downloaded it to try it for 30 days for free. After the 30-day trial, it costs $49 to purchase. There is a steep learning curve, but there was also a steep learning curve with FrameMaker. I like the software, but it’s still more than what I need. Maybe I’ll save this one for when I actually write a book.
  1. Living Writer: This is another program for novelists and authors, but it’s a cloud-based, online app. You can create an account and try it 30 days for free. Afterward, there are two subscription options. Either $8/month billed annually for a total of $96 a year or $9.99 per month, billed monthly. Needless to say, this one wasn’t for me.
  1. RedNotebook: This appeared to be a calendar-based journaling software. I downloaded it to test it out, but it didn’t run. Rather than spending time to figure out what the problem was, I deleted it.Efficient Diary
  1. Efficient Diary Pro:  I'm still testing this one, but it looks promising. It's available for Windows, Android, and iOS. I've downloaded the 30-day trial. If I decided to continue using it, the 3-year update license costs $29.98 (that's the 50% off price as there seems to be a constant sale).
  1. My Daily Digital Journal:  Just didn’t get a good feel for it, so I did not download it.
  1. iDailyDiary: With this program, there’s a free and a premium version. I downloaded the premium to try it for 30 days. After the trial period, it costs $30. It had a few nice features, but it wasn’t for me. I deleted it.
  1. Journaley: A free open-source windows journaling app. It is a basic journaling tool. It’s straight forward and easy to use. I actually like it, but it’s missing a couple of features that I frequently use such as theJournaley ability to insert hyperlinks. Additionally, only one photo per entry, and that photo gets placed at the top. Printing was another issue. I could only print one entry at a time. Printing an entire week, month, or year is a no go. If hyperlinking, photos and printing isn’t a problem for you, I think it’s a nice simple journaling program. After all, not everyone journals like a tech writer.
  1. Digital Diary is a Windows program. They offer a free version and Pro version pro $2.49 to download. It didn’t interest me so I didn’t bother to download it.
  1. Diarium: This is an app and not PC based. Not for me.
  1. Journey: This is another app and not PC based so it won't work for me.
  1. Penzu: Penzu is an online journaling program. It’s available for all platforms and devices. There are three options, free, Penzu Pro for $19.99 per year, and Pro for $49.99 per year. It’s a lot cheaper thanPenzu FrameMaker, but I didn’t like the online account aspect of it. Journals are just too personal to run the risk of it being compromised.
  1. Momento:  iPhone app. Not for me.
  1. Grid Diary:  This program is for the journaling beginner. It offers guided writing and writing prompts. Not what I was looking for
  1. Daylio: An iPhone app. Not for me.
  1. Glimpses -  online journal. Not what I was looking for.

And the Winner is...

Journaling Software WinnerI think I’ll spend time over the next week getting warm and fuzzy with Efficient Diary Pro. It’s much different than what I’m used to, but I believe it has everything I need. It will take some tweaking to get it just right, but I don’t mind tweaking if the program has the right bones. I believe it does.

Update: Efficient Diary Pro was the winner until I came across the Day One Journaling app.

Felicia (aka Low Tech Grandma) is a wife, mother, grandmother, freelance writer and low tech blogger.

Last Modified: 20 June 2023

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