Posted on Apr 4, 2012 | 16 comments

I’ve just gone through a big change in my journaling life. If you will allow me, I want to tell you the reason why and hopefully this experience will help you as you attempt to either find a new or better eJournal or else improve the one you are currently keeping. Think of this as a case study of the most personal kind and as we know, case studies are often one of the best forms of education.

So without further adeau, why I am switching to Penzu, probably for good.

I have spoken glowingly about Wonderful Days on at least 3 occasions here at Easy Journaling. I fell in love with it when I first laid my hands on it and within months was trying it out as my primary personal journal. Not only was the interface beautiful and customizable, but it had Evernote integration and PDF export- perhaps my two most desirable features. I always knew that online journals have more features to offer, but I use my iPhone so much as my journal, a good smartphone experience was essential for me. I had used both LDSJournal and Penzu to some extent and loved many things about them, but the iPhone interface was so clunky that I opted for and took the chance with an application that was mostly stuck on the device.

I was happy with Wonderful Days for months. It was so easy to flip it open practically every night and tap out an entry along with a picture or two. They were organized in several ways, backed up and searchable. Then, something happened. After months of using WDs and over a hundred of entries, I decided to try the PDF feature to see if the entries looked as great after exported. I went to the settings menu and found it but there was a problem.

It would only allow me to export a single entry at a time.

Now, this may not seem like a big deal to many, but for me it was. If I plan on using this journal almost every day for possibly years, that would be hundreds of entries to export. And if I am to meet my end goal of printing out this PDF into a physical book in the future, compiling hundreds of PDFs would be an unpleasant if even possible experience.

Luckily we live in a world where everyone is an email or message away and companies and developers are supposed to be responsive and helpful. The fact that I host a website that is growing in popularity focusing on the specific genre of Wonderful Days, I kind of hoped the developers would pay special attention to my concerns. So, I fired off an email. It wasn’t scathing, just a polite “I love your app and have been responsible for many others buying it and want to know if you at least have plans to address this PDF problem I have noticed”. I waited a patient few days. And then a patient few weeks.

The developers of Wonderful Days ignored my email. Honestly.

Because I have had the experience that each of you have had of where you send an address to a wrong email and get a rejection email saying it didn’t arrive, I knew that the email had definitely gone to the right place. Someone had either read my email and not bothered to respond or they just aren’t in the practice of checking their support email address. Poor business practice in the least.

Now I want to point out that this was the worst case scenario for them. I had pointed out in my email that I wasn’t about to go delete all of my glowing posts or blast them for missing a simple feature, but I had not expected complete neglect. After I was fairly sure they weren’t going to respond, I emailed them again:

Wow, I didn’t even get a reply?

Penzu it is.

Nope, didn’t get an email for that one either and that’s why I don’t feel bad writing this post. Not everyone who comes to this website will read it and people will still read the Wonderful Days posts and buy it. That’s fine. It’s a good app, it just apparently has developers who don’t care.

Now, on to Penzu. This journaling service had been tantalizing me for months. I had used it, recommended it, reviewed it and often wondered why I wasn’t using it myself. Penzu Pro has so many features it is hard to find something that it doesn’t have that something else does. It has PDF export, is its own cloud backup, works from virtually any device and also has the ability to keep multiple journals which would allow me to not only keep a journal for myself, but for my kids as well. The only thing that was keeping me from daily use was that Wonderful Days had a better iPhone interface. Penzu has a dedicated iPhone app, but isn’t as polished as I would like and just has basic features.

When I had the falling from grace with WDs, I was much more willing to overlook this app weakness and started to get excited at the new opportunities that would open up if I started using Penzu consistently. Additionally, I could write in my journal via keyboard whenever I felt like it which results in higher quality entries for me personally. Actually, if you want to know a more detailed description of why I choose Penzu, I highly recommend his post I recently wrote (even before this whole ordeal) 37 Reasons To Switch To Penzu Pro For 37 Cents Per Week.

So once I decided I was going to make the switch, I didn’t look back. The conversion of my journal from WD’s to Penzu hasn’t been without issue, but I will save that experience for another entry since this is getting a little long. Just know it was more Evernote’s issue than anyone else’s.

Now, I am happier in my journaling experience and am actually grateful those emails never have been returned. If you are serious about journaling and want to do it from your computer, smartphone or tablet, I highly recommend Penzu. It is worth the very small price you have to pay for the additional features. (Note that Penzu has a great free service but if you want syncing with your device and some other features, you will need to upgrade to pro for 37 cents a week)

Anyone else had positive or negative experiences with Penzu or Wonderful Days for the iPhone? Please do tell!

  • Randall Harris

    Penzu feels more “serious” to me than Wonderful Days.  I also like Penzu because of the customization options (as well as the automatic backing up and easy exporting).  My favorite setting on Penzu is a page of notebook paper and the “Pencil” font — this gives me the feeling (and look) of actually handwriting my entry, which is extremely satisfying to me!

    • Sam

      I am a big fan of creative fonts as well and Penzu has a bunch of them ;)

  • Natasha

    I just upgraded to Penzu Pro. Absolutely love it! I am hoping to one day take my dozens of journals and type them up to be printable for my daughter in the future.

    • Sam

      That sounds like a lot of work, but definitely worth it if you are up to it!

  • Amy

    Would you recommend Penzu over Evernote?

    • Sam

      For personal journals and diaries I would definitely use Penzu because that what it is designed for. For collecting and keeping notes, I would use Evernote because that what it is designed for. I use both, but each for different purposes. The best part is that both have a free version so you can try and use them without the risk.

    • Sam

      Sorry for the late response, Amy. Software is designed for specific purposes and Evernote is more for note taking while Penzu is more for journaling. Sure, either can be used for the other purpose, but they are best used for the purpose they were created for. For this reason, I would definitely recommend Penzu over Evernote for journaling. 

      The one caveat is that Evernote is used as a cloud backup for many journal apps such as Wonderful Days. In this case, it works great because it is just used to backup and sync. I know because I have used it.

  • Ed Gracz

    I am very interested in your recommendation. I started using Day One because of your very useful posting about that app. It also has cloud backup — but it lets me post to my DropBox account, as opposed to Penzu’s cloud. How would you distinguish between Penzu and Day One, and would you still recommend a move to Penzu if someone is happy with Day One? Thank you as always for all the great posts!

    • Sam

      Thanks Ed! 

      Because picking an eJournal is so dependent on the individual who will use it, it is difficult to recommend a single one for everyone. Penzu is great for me in my situation, but Day One is a fine choice as well. I think the Dropbox backup is about as good as the Penzu cloud but the one thing that has always bothered me about Day One is that they have been promising adding pictures to entries for about a year with no progress. If that isn’t a deal breaker for you, Day One is one of the best, especially since you can sync between iPhone, iPad and Mac. 

      So in other words, if you are happy with Day One, I would stay put. Besides, it is a headache if you want to move all of your entries!

      • Ed Gracz

        This is an informative and informed reply. Thank you. I have both a “heavyweight” and a “lightweight” journal, and Day One is the lightweight one. Photos aren’t needed there. I use a WordPress journal for my heavyweight journaling (which I share with people), and it’s there that a post my photos. I appreciate your insights; I am going to stick with Day One for now. Thank you again for replying.

  • Bruno

    I have had the same unpleasant experience with Handypadsoft. I had contacted them about two months ago via email, but got nothing back. Then about a month ago again (with just the question where I can get feedback from them). No answer so far. I won’t even try Twitter because the last tweet from their Twitter account was sent 7 months ago! I am really disappointed.
    If I’m still using the Wonderful Days App it’s because I love its interface, the possibility to include photos and also the Evernote sync. Have been looking for other solutions with Evernote sync, but there just aren’t many that provide this. Flava looks interesting, has Evernote sync, the interface is beautiful too, but the tagging is still limited.
    I would love to include videos, have parallel journals or maybe just tagging. I’m hoping Wonderful Days is still being worked on.

  • mr brown

    i’ve been using penzu for about 9 months now but am sad to say that i lost 6 months worth of entries due to an encryption issue.. unrecoverable.  not a good experience.  support was helpful but the outcome was.. well, it sucked.  they gave me a year of penzu pro as a makeup (which i do appreciate) but losing that much data is hard to stomach.  dozens of entries gone.. poof.

    • Guilherme Pedrosa

      What exactly was the issue? From what you said, could be even you forgetting the password. Good encryption systems will not have many workarounds for this.

      • reid

        it was unclear what the issue was, likely one client i used didn’t close the connection cleanly and then.. poof. password has been the same the entire time; they gave me another version of my journal to try but my password (and every other password i tried) wouldn’t open it. bummer.

  • ggxie

    Have been using Day One ( iOS only) for a year and half now. The experience is amazing. I tried Penzu as well….well, that’s say it is not bad but there is no real attraction to keep me there once a better option comes along. Anyone who has not used Day One, I strongly recommend it.

    • reid

      i agree that day one seems to have a great UI and workflow but do some research on their security (or lack thereof). that has kept me using penzu, despite my issues a year ago.