How to create a WordPress journal application

How to Create a WordPress Journal Application Using Gravity Forms and GravityView

Written by Casey Burridge

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Notable people throughout history, from Albert Einstein to Friedrich Nietzsche, Mark Twain, Leonardo da Vinci and more, all kept journals. And they are still being studied to this day!

Journaling is a known habit of many successful people. Taking your thoughts out of your head and writing them down can help you to improve your focus, gain clarity on important issues, and make progress towards your goals.

In this post, we’re going to show you how to build your own private WordPress journal application using Gravity Forms and GravityView. Let’s get started! 👇

Sneak peek

Here’s a sneak peek at the journal application we’re going to build in this tutorial:

A WordPress journal application built using Gravity Forms and GravityView

What you’ll need

Here are the plugins you’ll need if you’re following along with this tutorial:

Why create a journal application on WordPress

When WordPress was first released, it functioned primarily as a blogging platform. Although the utility of WordPress has moved far beyond blogging, it’s still a platform that enables creators to write and publish great content. This makes WordPress the ideal platform for journaling.

Here are some additional reasons why you should be using WordPress as a journal platform:

  • WordPress provides a private, safe space for writing down your thoughts
  • On WordPress, you can create an online community for people to discuss topics and interact with one another
  • There are thousands of free plugins available, allowing you to add additional functionality to your website
  • WordPress is open source and best of all, free!

Before we dive into the HOW of building a journal application on WordPress, let’s take a look at the different types of apps you could build:

Ideas for different types of WordPress journal applications

WordPress is a flexible platform that allows you to build different kinds of applications. The type of journaling app you build will depend on what you want to achieve. Are you trying to make money? Do you want to form a community/. Here are some examples of journaling apps you could build:

  • Private journal for personal use: Write down your thoughts every day, keep track of your goals and catalog your idea.
  • Private journal for members: Members would be able to log in, see their ‘posts’ on their dashboard, then create, edit, and delete entries.
  • Online journaling community: Form a community of users who are interested in journaling, making connections and helping each other achieve their goals.

Now let’s look at some of the benefits of keeping a private journal.

Benefits of keeping a private journal

If you’ve ever tried keeping a private journal before, you’ll know there are several benefits to doing so. In fact, many successful people journal on a regular basis. Not only can journaling help you deal with intense emotions (like anger, grief and sorrow), it can also help you achieve greater success in your career and the world of business.

Here are some proven benefits of keeping a private journal:

Helps you define your goals

Taking the time to write out your goals helps you to gain clarity on exactly what you want to achieve. It’s hard to visualize yourself attaining a goal if you’ve never specified it clearly.

Writing out your goals forces you to sort through the mental clutter and provide details about what you want to do and why you want to do it. If there’s an aspect of your life that isn’t brining you happiness or fulfillment, writing about it can help you work out a way forward.

Improves your ability to solve problems

Journaling helps you to cut through the mental clutter and define your problems so that you can move past them. Writing down your problems removes them from your head and allows your mind to focus its energy on finding solutions.

For example, let’s say you’re managing multiple tasks at work and you’re feeling overwhelmed. Writing out everything you need to do can help you create a schedule and define a strategy for how to complete everything on time. 

Tracking your progress

When you’re working towards a goal, it helps to have a way to measure your progress. Often times we can’t see how far we’ve come unless we catalog our development along the way.

Journal writing helps you to see how you’ve changed over time, allowing you to see what went well and what didn’t. This is valuable information that can help you make greater progress toward your goals.

How to build your own private WordPress journal platform

Now let’s look at how you can build your own, private WordPress journal platform. This is something you can use only for yourself, or you could turn it into an online community. You could even create a business around it!

There are two main components to a WordPress online journal: 1) there needs to be an easy way to write down your thoughts and make edits/updates; 2) there must be a way to catalog each journal entry by date so that they’re easily viewable in the future.

For our journal application, we’re going to use Gravity Forms for writing journal entries and GravityView by GravityKit to display those entries chronologically on the front end. In this way, GravityView becomes a powerful WordPress journal plugin! 

💡 Pro tip: New to GravityKit? GravityView is an add-on for Gravity Forms that allows you to display Gravity Forms data and build powerful web applications.

Create the journal entry form

The first step is to create a form in Gravity Forms that allows users to write and publish new journal entries.

To create a new form, hover over Forms in your WordPress Admin menu and click New Form. Now you can start adding fields to your form using the Gravity Forms visual builder.

To keep things simple, we’ll add two fields to our form:

  • Entry title (Single Line Text field)
  • Entry text (Rich Text Paragraph field)

After adding the Paragraph field to your form, ensure you enable the rich text editor as this will allow users to use bold, italics, lists, headings and other rich text elements in their journal entries.

You can enable the rich text editor by opening the field settings, scrolling down to “Advanced” and checking the box that says “Use the Rich Text Editor”.

A checkbox that says "Use the Rich Text Editor"

Here’s what our journal entry form looks like on the front end:

A journal entry with the title 'Amazing workout today!'

Okay, now that you’ve created your journal entry form, it’s time to build a View to display journal entries on the front end.

Create a View to display journal entries on the front end

Hover over Views in your WordPress menu and click New View. Now give your View a name and select your journal entry form as the data source.

A View with the data source set to a form called Journal

Next, you’ll need to choose a View Type. This is a layout template that allows you to display your Gravity Forms data in different ways. For a WordPress journal application, we suggest selecting the “List” layout.

The GravityView List layout

Okay, now you can begin constructing your journal View using the GravityView visual builder. Ensure you’re on the “Multiple Entries” tab and start by adding the “Date Created” meta field to the “Listing Title” section.

The 'Date Created' field in the GravityView View editor

Next, we’ll add the “Entry title” to the “Subheading” section and the “Entry text” field to the “Other Fields” section.

The 'Entries Fields' section of the View editor in GravityView

Finally, you may wish to add the journal entry form to the View as well, making it easy for users to add new entries. You can do this by clicking on the “Add Widget” button and selecting the Gravity Forms widget. 

The Gravity Forms Widget in the GravityView View editor

After that, click on the gear icon to open the widget settings and select the form you want to display.

The Gravity Forms widget settings

💡 Pro tip: If your entries contain additional information, consider adding that to the Single Entry Layout.

Allow users to edit journal entries from the front end

The next step is to configure the Edit Entry layout as this will allow users to edit their entries from the front end. But first, you’ll need to add a link to the Edit Entry screen from the Multiple Entries Page.

You can do this by adding a new field and searching for the “Link to Edit Entry” field.

The 'Link to Edit Entry' field in the GravityView View editor

After adding the field to your View, click on the “Edit Entry Layout” tab to configure the Edit Entry layout. The fields you add here will be editable from the front end.

The Edit Entry Layout configuration in the GravityView View editor

Now, as you can see, each of our journal entries has an ‘Edit Entry” link allowing you to go back and update the entry from the font end.

The Edit Entry link

We’re making solid progress on our WordPress journal application! All that’s left to do is add a filter to our View so that users can only see their own entries.

Restrict the View to entry creators only

If you’re building a journaling application that can be used by multiple users, you won’t want to show every entry to every user! Instead, you’ll need to restrict entries so that they’re only visible to the users who created them.

You can accomplish this using the GravityView Advanced Filtering extension

After installing the extension, scroll down to the View Settings, click on the “Filter & Sort” tab and add a new advanced filtering condition. Set the condition as follows: “Created By”, “is”, “Currently Logged-in user”.

The Advanced Filter in GravityView

When you’re done, remember to update the View! Here’s what our final WordPress journal application looks like on the front end:

A WordPress journal application built using Gravity Forms and GravityView

That’s it! If you want to upgrade your journal app into a full-fledged journal management system that runs on WordPress, you could extend your entry form, such as allowing users to upload images. You could also use the free Members plugin to create custom user roles and permissions in order to better manage your community of “journalers”!

Create a WordPress journal app today

Journaling is a useful habit that helps you to clear your mind, improve your problem-solving abilities, and achieve your goals. WordPress is perfect for building a journaling application because it’s free, easy to use, and it’s built for creators.

In this post, we showed you how to build a WordPress journal application using Gravity Forms and GravityView. If you found this tutorial helpful, check out our tutorial on building a fitness tracker app.