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Laverna – A Markdown note-taking app focused on privacy (laverna.cc)
334 points by mcone on Aug 20, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 169 comments

I'd really love a good Evernote alternative, but the one feature that tends not to exist is full page bookmarking / web clipping. I want to be able to clip a full page easily into the program, which will also save a copy of whatever article I happen to be reading. I really wouldn't mind (and would even love) to roll my own notes system with vim/etc. But without full page clipping, it would be a problem.

Another good thing about Evernote is the easy ability to mix in images, documents, and text.

The reasons I want to leave Evernote, btw, is:

1. I worry about their future and would rather a more open solution.

2. Their software, at least on Mac, really, really sucks. It's slow, and has tons of incredibly ridiculos bugs that have been open for a long time. E.g. when typing in a tag, if there's a dash, it will cause a problem with the autocompletion. For someone who uses the tags a lot and has a whole system based on them, having dashes cause a problem is a big deal, and the fact that it hasn't been fixed in ~ a year makes me really question their priorities.

I really liked Evernote 3 on Mac. It had a simple interface but those really powerful html/rich text pasting abilities. One of the things that sold me on it was that I could just dump anything into evernote and process it later. With the syncing features I could even do this across multiple devices and platforms. Perfect.

As evernote advanced though, it only got worse. New features and interface changes seemed to be being stuffed in without much of a strong focus on making the core useful features good and resilient. I gave up after I lost some notes for the third time during a sync.

Most of these alternate note taking solutions I find fail miserably with rich text and web content, instead preferring markdown (which I hate for notes). Either that or they are too complicated (e.g. devonthink). And to top it off, they rarely have any good implementations of syncing or cross-platform apps.

I couldn't agree more. I am using a different note taking app beside Evernote because I just can't stand the interface and usability of their Mac and iOS apps. But their OCR feature is by far the best on the market so I have to keep using it. As far as I can tell, Evernote is in a league of its own when it comes to OCR. They make it really easy to read physical books with that feature. (I like to keep notes of the books I'm reading and I hate to sully actual pages.)

I really want them to succeed, but I also recognize they will never make an app that I consider to be perfect or even good. They'd have to get rid of like 50 features, which is a hard thing to do by itself but also not in their MO.

The biggest reason for point 1 is point 2, IMO.

Their software pretty universally sucks - if it was just Mac it would be possible (although not reasonable) to argue that MacOS was an afterthought but IME it's terrible on Windows and iOS too and they just don't seem to care.

I've had weird syncing bugs where the content of one note appears in place of another's, or the note's content has had all the formatting ripped out so everything is on one line, which mostly fix themselves if you clear the app's cache. They keep saying they've fixed it in release notes but the issue keeps happening, and if you raise a support ticket (I've got Evernote Premium with supposedly prioritised support) you'll get useless responses that suggest they haven't properly read your ticket, days after you opened the ticket in the first place.

It's terrible, and I'd really like to stop giving them money, but I've struggled to find an alternative (tried OneNote and stopped for a reason I can't recall right now, plus the now-dead Vesper and Simplenote) despite a long line of comments below suggesting that emacs org-mode or papyrus and carrier pigeon is a viable alternative.

The only thing I've found even remotely similar in capability to Evernote is NimbusNote which is a clone with a similar but not the same web clipper. I've been unhappy with Evernote for quite some time and eventually left it but I can't say I'm definitely not missing some features and most of them tie to the web clipper, which is their best feature and sets them worlds above other software.

100 % agree with everything you said.

There isn't even a app on Linux and Evernotes web interface is the worst I've ever used. I _overwrite_ important notes with bs on a regular basis because the Ajax took two minutes to load and writes to something offscreen.

But the Webclipper works most of the time. Laverna does not even have a Browser Plugin.

NixNote 2 has gotten better, but it's still a really heavy application and I've not been able to use it fully because of that.

:read !elinks --dump url


Oh man, you just made my day!

I've given up on using any sort of branded app for notetaking. At best it's open source and the maintainers will lose interest in a few years.

When you write things down, you're investing in your future. It's silly to use software that isn't making that same investment.

After trying Evernote, wikis, org-mode, and essentially everything else I could find, I gave up and tried building my own system for notes. Plain timestamped markdown files linked together. Edited with vim and a few bash scripts, rendered with a custom deployment of Gollum. All in a git repo.

It's... wonderful. Surprisingly easy. Fast. If there's a feature I wish it had, I can write a quick bash script to implement it. If Gollum stops being maintained, I can use whatever the next best markdown renderer is. Markdown isn't going away anytime soon.

It's liberating to be in control. I find myself more eager to write things down. I'm surprised more people don't do the same.

Edit: here's what my system looks like https://imgur.com/a/nGplj

Org mode in a git repo. Easy enough. Don't need a fussy rendering step. Generate a PDF or HTML from org. Regardless of how you do it -- plain text will endure and using git makes it really simple. Markdown can never "go away" and neither can org files. They are inherently readable with cat and the naked eye. If I can't legibly read it with cat / less it will eventually leave me disappointed in some way.

I'm similar, my note-taking system is a directory full of org and markdown files, synced to dropbox.

I don't think i could ever go back to a notes-as-a-service system again.

org-mode's format sucks, is only partially supported outside of Emacs, and is on its way out. org-mode is only any good if you're using the full power of it (tasks, agenda, etc), which is buying into a system that's soon going away.

> Emacs, and is on its way out

Being active on the Emacs and Org mode mailing lists, and other forums, I can say with confidence that this is not true.

In fact, I am seeing active development in both Emacs and Org; not just bug fixes, but frequent additions of new features.

> org-mode is only any good if you're using the full power of it (tasks, agenda, etc), which is buying into

Org markup is much more powerful than Markdown. So you can be much more productive by using Org just as markup. One example is '#+INCLUDE: "foo.py" :lines-5-10'.. This is tremendously useful if you are writing notes that export to some format or blogging.. you don't need to copy-paste code snippets, Org will fetch them for you. (I have a customization built on top of that.. instead of specifying the line numbers, I can specify the start and end regexp for the lines containing my snippet). Add org-babel to this mix, and you don't even need to run the snippets, and copy the results manually; again Org does it.

I recently blogged about comparing string related functions between Python and Nim: https://scripter.co/notes/string-functions-nim-vs-python/

I cannot imagine myself writing (and maintaining) that post in Markdown!

On the next update of Nim version, I'll simply run org-babel over the whole file, see git diff to check if anything major has changed, and update the post accordingly.. no copy/pasting ever :)

> a system that's soon going away.

Again, really? What made you think that?

> I recently blogged about comparing string related functions between Python and Nim: https://scripter.co/notes/string-functions-nim-vs-python/ I cannot imagine myself writing (and maintaining) that post in Markdown!


I am curious about the org-source you used for that article, is it public?

Yes, here's the source:

- source of that specific post in raw org [1] - site source [2]

[1]: https://gitlab.com/kaushalmodi/kaushalmodi.gitlab.io/raw/mas...

[2]: https://gitlab.com/kaushalmodi/kaushalmodi.gitlab.io

(I wish HN supported some markup :P)

Thanks! How did you edit that? As shown? I assumed it included many INCLUDEs?

That, I have edited as shown (except the snippet outputs). That was an example of using Org Babel. Note that the #+RESULT blocks in that file are all auto-generated; none hand-written.

That post does not have any #+INCLUDE because all the code snippets are trivial. I would use #+INCLUDE in posts where I have a code file, and I want to talk about only few lines from that.

I have different examples of #+INCLUDE in my examples file[1] for my Org to Markdown for Hugo exporter -- ox-hugo[2]. There I use the inbuilt INCLUDE feature where I choose to include only the specified Org sub-tree (using the sub-tree CUSTOM_ID). The above referenced post on Nim/Python is converted to Markdown for Hugo using the same exporter.

[1]: https://raw.githubusercontent.com/kaushalmodi/ox-hugo/master... [2]: https://github.com/kaushalmodi/ox-hugo

(I have a customization built on top of that.. instead of specifying the line numbers, I can specify the start and end regexp for the lines containing my snippet).

This is awesome. Is this available anywhere? I'd like to use it.

Thank you! I had been meaning to write something like this for myself. It's more useful than line numbers, which typically change often.

Emacs has been with us for well over 30 years and during that time has always had folks claim it was obsolete (no graphical UI, no OOP etc). Emacs will be around for at least another 30 years.

It isn't the best, but it is also very simple. I like the actual hierarchy vs Markdown. I can navigate a lot of notes fast in org. Emacs packages last a long time. Emacs API is stable. I am confident it will still work in ten years.

Emacs and plain org-mode may work, but will that be how you want to edit files in the future?

It's been a decade and they still haven't figured out mobile.

I find this statement odd. "Figured out mobile" in what sense? The laptop solved the mobility issue for Emacs about 2 decades ago. If you mean "runs on Android or iOS", it's likely Emacs will still be around after one or both of those have been consigned to the scrap heap.

Not everyone wants to have to whip out their laptop every time they want to update their orgsniser. I mean I can get that before smartphones become a thing but we're supposed to be making things better and easier over time. Are you seriously trying to justify the lack of progress on that front by saying that a 20 year old technological innovation made things a little easier already? That's like claiming transport is OK with just horses even though the combustion engine exists.

That's more like claiming transport is OK with just tanks when we've got electric vehicles. Tanks are not that efficient and neither are they that fast, and probably will not be allowed in the city - but they can go literally anywhere. And to be fair the guy has a point (a had a point for years beforehand).

Unless you're that networking guy that just massively tries to organise a thousand meetings a day on the go - I believe that a laptop is a better way to use your organiser.

I've had a lecturer at the university who still used a console-based e-mail client. He knew all of the shortcuts by heart - and I am pretty sure it would probably take me a few years to casually learn how to use Outlook/Gmail/etc.. as efficiently (and even then - most of the UI-based applications tend to somehow forget that a keyboard exists at all).

You'll ask me: "but what about mobile?". Well - the guy _never_ replied to your e-mails outside his office hours; but when he did - he gave you a proper, short and an informal answer. And to be fair, he seemed to have a great personal life.

Excuse me - I did write a lot here, but had forgotten to make the primary point: I don't think that the availability of productivity tools on mobile is that crucial for someone using them professionally.

Besides, if you are a true power-user of these tools and had been years before - there's quite a high probability that the newer tools would require quite some time to mature in order to make them a fully-functional alternative.

This is to say that I still find Calendar apps on mobile quite tricky to use as opposed to a fast "point-and-drag" alternative on desktop. I would rather open up a laptop unless I don't have it.

"it's likely Emacs will still be around after one or both of those have been consigned to the scrap heap."

That may be true, but it does nothing for people who need to take notes using their phone now.

Orgzly (http://www.orgzly.com/) works well enough for me. It can sync to DropBox, so I can put all my .org files into DropBox for replication/backups and have Orgzly read & update them.

It's not full org mode for sure, but it's a solid way to read and do simple changes to my .org files on my phone.

I am not even a regular Emacs user (sorry, on the Vim side for now), and I think Orgzly is a great note-taking app. Actually the best one I've tried so far. It's true! :)

As tools like Evernote and OneNote rose to fame, I've always wondered why do people use such sophisticated note taking apps? People don't seem to be using it for to do list? Maybe because it allows things to be searched? Can someone explain what notes they take or how do they use it?

I still end up using a sophisticated note app (AnyList) for remembering spinach. Real-enough-time syncing with my non-techie significant other's phone is pretty great, the latency is low enough that we divide and conquer at the grocery store.

When I take meeting notes, I end up using OneNote or Google Docs:

- I have a tree of `Who - What` (and the counter-bikeshedding).

- Images of block diagrams sneak in, especially if it's a planning or design meeting.

- Full text search is handy, one-note especially spoiled me by doing OCR

- I like GDocs in particular for the real-enough-time collaboration. It can help quieter people not get steamrolled in conversation, especially if you have a boisterous note-taker to speak up for them :)

How do you mean “on its way out”? Do you just mean that people searching for new organizational software nowadays are decreasingly likely to choose it?

Yes and for a piece of software that heavily relies on its ecosystem, you want the ecosystem to be vibrant in 10 years from now.

I've been using pretty much the same features from org-mode now that I used when I first started using it at least 11 years ago (actually, probably using even fewer features now, in the beginning I would export things, but these days I rarely see the need). All my notes still work, and are still plain text, and still don't rely on any "ecosystem", just Emacs and git.

Emacs and org-mode will still be here (along with the armoured cockroaches) long after we're all gone. In fact, I have more faith in the longevity of emacs than I do of Android or iOS, or Evernote/OneNote for that matter.

well, without any extra information, the expected future lifetime of a thing is proportional (equal, actually) to its lifetime so far. therefore, yes, it's perfectly sensible to expect Emacs to last longer :)

small example: mobile client for ios is kinda bunk

For taking notes you don't need todos or the agenda -- it's heirarchical, fast to search through, and pleasing to the eye (at least, to a similar level to markdown). Aside from that, the syntax is at least as expressive, if not more so because of the extensibility of the language it's written in.

Yes, buying into the todo and agenda systems effectively requires using an external integration script or using emacs all the way through, so that's not all that great. I, too, have yet to figure out how to integrate it into the usual PIM stuff like next loud calendars, etc.

Has anyone else managed to figure this bit out?

Can you elaborate what going away means here

"They are inherently readable with cat and the naked eye."

For those who want a very similar setup but don't mind the risk of a vim-plugin going unmaintained, I can highly recommend vimwiki. Its a very simple markdown based wiki all within vim. A few features that I find particularly good:

- a 'diary' function that allows you to make a page per day. Vimwiki then produces an index page of all diary entries.

- you can go to your wiki anytime from within vim with a command ( <leader>ww )

- vimwiki can generate html files from yout wiki files

- the coolest thing in my opinon: since the whole thing is just markdown, I actually just use vimwiki as my personal website hosted on github pages. You just have to add some Jekyll related files and github can process everything else as is.

A small note on obselescence: I actually don't even know if vimwiki is in active development anymore. Haven't bothered updating it in maybe 4 years and it works fine. So maybe its fine to not roll your own.

+1 for vimwiki. I use it for everything, from taking notes and todo lists to writing blogposts. The wiki format just works so well with my brain.

My favourite features are nested syntax (highlighting for codeblocks in any language vim has highlighting for)

>since the whole thing is just markdown

I was going to write a complaint about how vimwiki uses its own markup language instead of Markdown, but I looked in the help file to be sure and now I you can set it to use Markdown or even Mediawiki instead (vimwiki-option-syntax). I like it even more now!

+1 for vimwiki, though I mostly use it for the diary shortcut (<leader>w<leader>w).

I also use it in conjunction with gollum, which works nicely (gives search, live editing, etc).

I like your effort and all but honestly the last thing I want to do on a phone is to use a command line on it. It's just not cut out for the job

Command line isn't really necessary. I have a similar setup (gollum wiki on Dropbox) and I only need a text editor to edit files, and there's tons of mobile text editors that hook up with Dropbox.

I tried to do this, but I missed a lot of the convenient features and flexibility of OneNote too much and made my way back to it.

OneNote is proprietary, with a proprietary file format, but at least it's "self hosted" (your notes live in concrete files you control, not in a service), and it's got a lot of nice features that make it a joy to use.

No local hosting on mac. On mac is either ms cloud or sharepoint, unfortunately.

This. Got me using Quiver with Syncthing pointed at the database (json). So far I like it but the iOS app requires WebDAV if you can't use Dropbox. I might set that up soon.

I once tried to use one note for taking notes for work (1:1s, etc.) on a surface pro 4, and found that unless you go to great lengths, OneNote does everything it can to sync your notes to OneDrive. Even after turning off sync for specific books, those books ended up in OneDrive. In the end, I had to uninstall onedrive, disable syncing globally, and then login to OneDrive to delete the previously synced copies.

So users that care about privacy in their notes beware: it does take a bit of work to turn off all of the cloud functionality.

That sounds like the free version of OneNote that comes with Windows 10. The "full-fat" desktop version that comes with Office ("OneNote 2016") is much more flexible in this regard, and has a more powerful interface.


That said, the OneDrive integration is something I like about it; my notes aren't very useful to me unless they're cloud-synced.

I've been curious about entering into OneNote. I liked the brief experience I had using the Android app. I've been using Google Keep, but I hit a tag limit (50 tags max) that really soured my taste for it since I write about so many different subjects I'd like arbitrary tagging. I need to learn more about the organizing structure OneNote permits.

I like OneNote and have used it for many years, but I have started running into "this section is corrupted" since I tried using the android app. The iOS app is very good, but the android app is buggy, slow, sometimes won't load pages and other times won't start. So I stopped using it, and guess what? No more corrupted pages for over a month.

Be aware that the files are also proprietary and I only know of manual ways to migrate away. I am still looking for another option.

> Be aware that the files are also proprietary

Actually the file format specification for OneNote [MS-ONE] is open: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd924743(v=office.1...

Thank you. Are you aware of any program that exists or is under development that can import the file format or access the data stored in a notebook? I have never found one and did assume the spec was closed.

I ended up with dropbox paper for now. It has quite a few useful capabilities, markdown syntax, ... and of course dropbox integration. On PCs you use the quite good web client and for iOS there's apps. Of all the options I found it the best for now even though it is still a compromise.

I'm curious what you don't like about Evernote, I personally love it.

I use Onenote a lot for handwritten notes and also web clipping, and even for typing its fine and has been around long enough that i don't really worry about it going anywhere. Since it's included in the Office365 subscription and on all major platforms, i prefer it to Evernote. It isn't perfect, but for a complex tool like this it is immensely useful.

Same here and for mobile access I use "Notebooks" [1] iOS app via WebDAV sync.

[1] https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/notebooks-all-your-documents...

I have also used markdown files in git for quite some time. When I was running Windows 7, I added my notes folder to the Document library and was able to search my notes from the start menu - that was really great. But then Windows search got broken in Windows 8+ and I started looking for alternatives. I played with OneNote for a while, but missed VIM key bindings, markdown and easy online access to my notes (OneNote online editor is quite heavy). About two months ago I switched to a private Wordpress and till now I am really happy: full-text search works like a charm, I can tag my notes, use markdown (even with Latex expressions) and for cheat sheets (or field notes) I use pages.

What terminal are you using on iOS?

Any chance you have a blog post referencing more of this? I have gone the way of markdown + git + vim a few years ago but your model seems a bit more hierarchical and organized.

I've been window shopping for something similar to Tomboy notes. This seems like a nice compromise. Thanks for sharing.

did you have a look at vimwiki [0]? it has a diary function with plain timestamped markdown files.

[0] https://github.com/vimwiki/vimwiki

Is that android? If so what keyboard is that?

It appears like iOS to me.

How do you create/edit notes on mobile?

Apologies for the poor Imgur formatting, but like this: https://imgur.com/a/nGplj

I use a Mosh client for iOS called Blink to connect to a tmux session on my personal server. I do the same thing to edit on desktop, just from a larger screen.

Sounds like vimwiki.

Apart from having sync capability (via Dropbox) this in almost no way shape or form replicates the current capabilities of Evernote. A more accurate title would be "Laverna: An open source note-taking application." This of course will not generate many clicks, since there are dozens of things like this, many of them better-looking and more mature.

Just noted the title change, thumbs-up on responding to feedback, one of the great things about HN.

Exactly what I thought. Nowhere near evernote and capabilities other note taking apps offer. The title is misleading.

What's on your shortlist of "more mature [with same or more functionality]" ones?

Simplenote would be the canonical example. BoostNote, which I think was an earlier HN item. QOwnNotes, if you like ownCloud. Turtl, if you like eliding the silent 'e'

Honorable Mention Notational Velocity (Mac-only)

I moved to Quiver from Evernote, also Mac-only. The solo dev moved to Berlin a little over a year ago, and I would describe the app as minimally supported at this point.

I've been at this a long time, and have run the gamut from Evernote to tagged text files managed in Emacs with some custom macros, long before org-mode was even a gleam in the eye of Carsten Dominik. So I've seen them all, and as noted by many other folks, the rules boil down to one - must have a portable base storage format (preferably Plain Old Text) and/or solid import and export to some such portable storage format.

If it's commercial software, pricing will get stupid and/or bug-ridden features that add bloat and that I don't want are added to justify said pricing; the product/company is sold to someone who will do the above; the product/company dies. If it's open source, more or less the same, with the additional stage of becoming closed/proprietary/commercial, which then reduces to the first case. I kind of assume at this point that I will be moving to a different platform every 4 years or so.

Just FYI, more than one year has passed since the last release. The commit frequency has declined significantly. I use it, but I am not sure if I would recommend it in its current state. It does it's job and I like it, but the future is uncertain.

A bit misleading. The maintainers have been working on large experimental features like a self-hosted "signaling server" which helps sync notes without storing any note data on it, and without relying on third-party hosting like Dropbox [1].

Also if you look at the dev branch [2], they have been making sweeping changes to the codebase; most recently it appears they have been removing "old" JavaScript libraries like Bower, presumably to move everything to an NPM setup.

[1]: https://github.com/Laverna/laverna/issues/778

[2]: https://github.com/Laverna/laverna/commits/dev

I am constantly looking for a good notes app. I have been a paying Evernote user for years and I really like it. The only problem is the formatting. I take a lot of pride in formatting my notes and like it to look a certain way depending on the content. Markdown is definitely the way I want to go which Evernote has promised in the past but still hasn't delivered. That said note of the buttons on Laverna seem to work on my Mac. Can't sign into DropBox and can't create a notebook. Oh well.

I'm also a heavy Evernote user, but have been exasperated by their Rich Text implementation for input.

I currently use Marxico on both the Mac and PC. Yearly subscription, but it's modest. I journal everything as I develop, and it automatically syncs the output to Evernote.

I start out by adding metadata like @(notebook)[tag1,tag2] so that my notes find their way into the right part of my Evernote structure.

The editor is based on Ace I think, so Vim keys work well. I can paste in screenshots I take, and even embed animated gifs of things happening at runtime or in my IDE.

Markdown support is great, which is good because I tend to structure thoughts in nested lists a lot. This has replaced the need for mindmaps for me, and is a lot quicker to outline thoughts, plans and tasks. Inline source code blocks look great.

I struggled for a while to put up with Evernote Rich Text, and tried Spacemacs for a month or two with Org mode. Hated configuring it, mostly, although I do miss the ability to fold selected parts of my list hierarchies. Org mode did that pretty well.

Marxico is the most comfortable solution I've found so far - at least for a Vim user. The tradeoffs are the usual closed source data liberation issue ones, but I'm looking into ways of getting things out of Evernote in bulk for backup.

Have you tried Bear Notes? I switched from Evernote last year and made my life easier.

Looks really nice, but I need my notes app to run on Windows for work. That’s one reason I use Evernote. It is so close for me, but falls short with note creation.

The encryption seems very insecure. I just tried turning on encryption and it revealed my password in the URL bar. And now each time I click on a new page, it shows my password in the URL bar.


There are so many note taking apps and yet I still can't find one I like. My requirements are simple:

- Markdown - cross platform with sync - tags

I have settled on SimpleNote for now, but I'm not completely happy. It's mac app is low quality and doesn't have markdown, It's open source but they ignore most of the issues. Bear Notes looks cool but wasn't cross platform.

I am still looking. If this thing had phone apps (I'm on iPhone) I'd give it a go.

I'm using Quiver [1] for this since some time and really love it. It's like the Evernote client but supports Markdown.

Unfortunately the client is proprietary, but the note format is open. 3rd party clients also exist, like an Android app.

[1] http://happenapps.com/

It does look nice, but Apple world only... I'm currently with mac and iPhone, but as a principle I insist that my note taking app will be as cross platform as possible. This is not for practical reason, but for trust reasons. I don't think that every app should be completely cross platform, but notes, at least for me, are essential for the long time, and I don't know on which ecosystem I'll be a few years from now. So picking a platform that at least tries to be cross platform today is the best thing I can do to ensure it'll work for the long run.

Glad you like SimpleNote. How much time or money have you donated to it to get your desired feature set up to snuff?

I will happily give money to software I like. SimpleNote is currently a compromise which I'm not completely happy with so I don't feel the need to donate. If it answered all my needs, or at least didn't ignore it's users, I'd buy it.

Simplenote takes donations? I thought Automattic bought it.

If you are looking for cross-platform like MacOS, iOS, Android (I am not sure about Windows) then I recommend https://ia.net/writer/ It has apps for iOS and Android and app for MacOS. It is very fast (at least this is my experience) and supports sync with iCloud and Dropbox and Google Drive. I use only iClod and it works amazingly.

I am using it for over 3 years I think. It just supports Markdown simple. You can choose your extension .md or .txt - depending on what you want to do next with your files.

Try the Mac beta app. If you go to simplenote.com/blog or whatever, there's a download link. The beta Mac app is the same as Windows and Linux versions (I.e. Built with Electron) and supports markdown preview.

Thanks for the tip! I'll try that. The release cycle looks monthly up to Jan 17, since then not a single update. Is it still alive?

Try Nvalt on Mac + 1writer on iOS

Why not use a text editor w/ markdown syntax highlighting + some sort of syncing tool? Eg. vim + dropbox

This came up on Product Hunt today as well >> Turtl lets you take notes, bookmark websites, and store documents for sensitive projects. From sharing passwords with your coworkers to tracking research on an article you're writing, Turtl keeps it all safe from everyone but you and those you share with. < https://turtlapp.com/download/

I run a minimal alternative to Evernote called EmailThis [1].

You can add the bookmarklet or browser extension. It will let you save complete articles and webpages to your email inbox. If it cannot extract useful text, EmailThis will save the page as a PDF and send it as an attachment.

No need to install apps or login to other 3rd party services.

[1] https://www.emailthis.me

You lost me with your privacy policy

Can you tell me why it is bad?

I am actually very concerned with the privacy of the app's users. The only communications I send to your email address are the initial onboarding emails and the saved bookmarks. No drip messages, no promotional emails etc.

I guess I need to convey that better in the privacy policy. I'd appreciate any links/resources that can help me draft a better privacy policy.

Obviously I can't speak for @vmateixeira, but this seems pretty bad to me.

> We may share generic aggregated demographic information not linked to any personal identification information regarding visitors and users with our business partners, trusted affiliates and advertisers for the purposes outlined above.

Especially considering the numerous examples of "anonymous" datasets being de-anonymized.

That would preclude using things like Google Analytics on the website, it's not bad per se.

I think the key word is aggregated.

Bellow is just an example of what I consider a big red flag, which mostly represents lack of control over my data.

EmailThis has the discretion to update this privacy policy at any time (...) We encourage Users to frequently check this page for any changes to stay informed about how we are helping to protect the personal information we collect. You acknowledge and agree that it is your responsibility to review this privacy policy periodically and become aware of modifications.

I will not be prompted to read and accept your new privacy policy, which you can update at any point in time without notifying me. I prefer the peace of mind of not needing to visit a website everyday to check on their privacy policy.

I'm not saying that this kind of business model is bad, it's just not what I am looking for. I prefer to give away a couple of bucks a year for some subscription than allowing my data to be used for profit indiscretionary.

It doesn't do web clippings though.

Incidentally, I am building https://pagedash.com to clip web pages more accurately, exactly as you saw it (via a browser extension)! Hope this helps someone.

Your sign up JS is broken - I just tried to enter my email and got a "TypeError: undefined has no properties". Looks like a cool project, though - I've wanted something like that for a while :-)

(oh, and I'm using FF 55 on Linux)

My bad. I'll take a look at this soon!

Update: Fixed the FF bug. Many thanks for taking the time to report! :)

Is it similar to scrapbook on Firefox? (Scrapbook was one of the winners of the extension competions when Firefox introduces extensions IIRC. Still worked last I tried.)

Thanks for pointing this out. I'll need to check out what Scrapbook is all about :)

Edit: Okay, looks similar. Except that PageDash lives on the cloud. And hopefully with that comes multi-device support in the future. And also hopefully a much better UI.

Would be interesting to do a comparison with Standard Notes, which seems to offer the same features.

One distinction appears to be that Laverna syncs through an adapter you maintain (like Dropbox).

Although with Standard Notes you're free to setup your own server too and can backup to dropbox.

I've been using Notion (https://www.notion.so) for a while and have nothing but good things to say.

- It's incredibly flexible. You can model Trello Task Boards in the same interface as writing or making reference notes. - They've got a great desktop client and everything syncs offline. - Latex Support - Programmable Templates - Plus there seems to be pretty neat people behind it

I switched to it 8 months ago or so and haven't really looked back.

Last I checked Laverna, they had really serious issues with losing data after every update or so. I stopped using it after encountering one of these. Looks like a lot of these issues are still open:







Edit: Formatting

One of the biggest use cases of Evernote for me – OCR notes with search. All my important checks, slips and papers are going there. It's seems that Laverna doesn't have this feature. So it's not an alternative for me.

This is what I'm missing from all alternatives. I do the same as you: Scan everything I receive. I rarely use it to take notes.

OneNote is the only one that I think that has this as well.

Same here, its just awesome to scan all your stuff and being able to retrieve it

Recently went through the process of evaluating every note taking tool I could find. Settled on TiddlyWiki which is slightly unintuitive at first but very well thought out once you get it customized to your needs. Fulfills most of the needs I see people requesting on this thread, i.e. flat file storage, syncable via Dropbox, markdown support, wiki structure.

I use plain .md files in a github "Notes" repo. I even don't render it, just using Material Theme for sublime text.

Screenshot: https://user-images.githubusercontent.com/5549677/29492466-0...

For notes, I use a text editor and Resilio Sync/Syncthing.

It's great!

Can you please describe this setup ?

Yes, I have a folder called "pocket-cloud". Using syncthing, this folder is synced between my phone, laptop and a server at my house. Whenever I add or modify a file on any of those devices, it automatically syncs to the others. Because there are three devices, it's very uncommon to miss updates. If my laptop or phone are asleep, the server picks up the changes and passes them on.

Did I mention? The devices don't even need to be connected to the internet! They only need to be on the same LAN!

I have other synced folders, including PDFs, music and phone pictures/videos.

My girlfriend and I have a Resilio Sync folder that we use to share stuff with each other. It works flawlessly and we don't even need the internet!

Resilio Sync and Syncthing are amazing tools. If you have any capacity to fix bugs, I recommend using Syncthing (open source), so that you can potentially fix bugs :) It's becoming much more stable, but could always use the support!

Another thing: I'm using Syncthing to back up my 50+ GB bitwig projects folder. It does automatic versioning in case something funny happens. This has actually saved my neck before.

On a slightly unrelated note (the following is totally unnecessary for Sync/Syncthing): I forgot to mention that I'm also using tinc for a mostly p2p, mostly decentralized virtual private LAN... it's amazing! Like I said, it's not necessary to do this for Sync/Syncthing, but it really helps smooth the gap. I tinc installed on quite a few devices, which makes remote work really seamless and presumably quite secure as well. I'm extremely satisfied with tinc. It's another tool with a similar "beauty in its simplicity".

A ridiculously simple, but good notes app I've found is https://standardnotes.org

What are the main concerns people have about using evernote, data protection, the company going out of business, the code being closed and proprietary? I can understand all those but sometimes it also feels like everyone (me included) expects every software to be free now.

I have a free evernote account and don't use it very much but I find it handy for some things such as cooking recipes and walking maps. I think it would also be great for Dave Allen's GTD technique if I could ever be disciplined enough.

If evernote removed the free tier I think I would pay up, the pricing for the personal plans is very reasonable. I'd probably make more use of it too. Humans don't tend to value free stuff. For someone like me I think they'd have had a better chance of turning me into a paying customer if their model was an initial free period followed by having to pay up. But I will never pay up if I can get away with paying nothing.

I used to use org-mode to take down notes when I attended seminars or meetings (I'm an astrophysicist). However, a feature I missed was the ability to quickly take photos to insert into my notes, in order to capture slides or calculations/diagrams done on the blackboard.

Thus, last year I subscribed to Evernote (which provides both features), and I must say that I am extremely satisfied. Moreover, Evernote's integration with Firefox and Android allows me to quickly save web pages for later reading (this might be possible with org-mode, but not as handy as with Evernote, which just require one tap.)

I think that Laverna is interesting for users like me: it provides a web app with a nice interface, it implements the first feature I need (easy photo taking), and if really an Android app is on the way, integration with Android services might allow to save web pages is Laverna using one tap like Evernote.

I tend to use Workflowy.com for anything hierarchical/simple/listy and then Trello for anything bigger.

For instance, recently did some CTO interview screenings via phone. It was really easy to set up a Trello board with a card per candidate, drop them in the list matching their current position in the pipeline, attach a resume, recruiter notes, due dates etc. The interview itself I threw as a bulleted list into Workflowy and just crossed things off as they were covered. Took notes in notepad and uploaded to the Trello board at the end. Invited stake holders to view the board and sent out a daily email with progress. Interviewed 8 candidates this way in a total of about 10 hours, including all the time spent prepping and scoring and communicating with the hiring team.

I recently tried it again, Laverna is very buggy and I just received an email from dropbox noting that the api they used is being deprecated. The app isn't really native, just a chromium window running a local web app.

So if it needs to be mobile, I am using onenote, but have to use the web app in Linux, and search is useless on the web app. So for desktop only, I use Zim. Cross platform, lots of plugins, stores everything in a file system with markdown. I haven't been able to get SVG to render in the notes though, which would be awesome, then I could just edit my diagrams and pictures with Inkscape. I can read the notes on mobile devices as they are just in markdown, but a mobile app really is needed.

For desktop only you should give Boostnote a look. It's got markdown support and has a "tabbed" note type of feature as well. It can do images, but they have to be links to pictures on the internet currently, though there is some thought to localized storage of images somewhere in the future. This is what I've personally settled on since there isn't really a good Evernote clone available.

I used to be a heavy Zim user, but the inability to store arbitrary text, such as code snippets, pushed me away.

Does Zim now support Markdown as a storage format? If so then perhaps the issue of storing arbitrary text is resolved.

The source view plugin is what I really like about it: http://zim-wiki.org/manual/Plugins/Source_View.html

The txt files are in markdown. For whatever reason though, they decided @ was a good choice for a tag and not #.

Here is the relevant bug report: https://bugs.launchpad.net/zim/+bug/946229

I'm going to give this a go.

Self hosted Dokuwiki has been my note taking tool of choice, usable on multiple devices, easy to backup, easy to export notes but markdown sounds good.

Is it possible to share notes or make notes public?

I found google keep to be the best for small notes without too much categorization, and google spreadsheet to be the best for larger scoped note taking due to the tabs.

I hit the maximum character limit in Keep notes from time to time. Quite annoying :/

yes also no history in google keep so i keep it for quick notes, it's really for quick notes and not more than that, like i'm in a meeting so i do very quick summaries there.

but permanent notes instead of any onenote, tomnote whatever I just use google spreadsheet, I find it very useful, because I like have a single spreadsheet for one big topic (like one spreadsheet for the company I work at) and then I separate for subsheets for subtopics, I find this method to be perfect!

subsheets could be:

1. useful urls 2. useful commands 3. administration 4. high level overview


I gave up on Evernote after experiencing syncing problems. Now I just use the default MacOS and iOS notes.app. Seems kind of boring but it actually works really well, and is nicely minimal. Also it’s free, pre-installed, no sync problems, and has web access via iCloud when I need it.

But for the love of god, why did they make link colour orange instead of the default blue? And why can’t it be changed via preferences? They had one job…

What I really really want is a tool that keeps notes in github, therefore an open/standard/robust way to do offline, merge changes, resolve conflicts.

I've lost so much data from Evernote's atrocious conflict resolution that it's my central concern. I don't see any mention of that here.

Use case: edit notes on a plane on laptop, edit notes on phone after landing, sometime later use laptop again and zap.

Presumably if you just designed your note app to work with any generic Git, you could interchangably use GitHub or something selfhosted.

Notes are data. We need ways to input and store it fully under user's control. And we need a much better way to get insight from our own notes.

I still use Evernote on my Android phone (Galaxy Note 4), mainly because of handwriting support.

For simplistic notes, well Google Keep is enough.

Still looking for alternatives :)

Using the online editor on Android with Firefox is essentially unusable. It feels almost like Laverna is trying to do autocorrect at the same time as my keyboard. Characters appear and disappear as I type which makes for a really confusing UX.

org-mode works well enough for me. It's a bit awkward at first and requires you to remember a lot of key combinations and things, but it does the job.

It doesn't work so well across devices (especially mobile), so I tend to carry around a small notebook, and then when I'm back at my computer I type anything useful that I'd captured in my notebook into org mode.

Sometimes I just take a picture of my notes in my notebook and then use the inlineimages feature to display the image inline, that works pretty well too although there's no OCR.

It seems to work OK.

I'm very happy with Bear notes. Will give this a shot though.

Title is making me post this: http://elephant.mine.nu

Cons: no mobile app, no OCR for docs, no web clipper

The macOS and web application don't look like the screenshot on the landing page. Is there a theme that needs to be configured separately?

I'm happy with Inkdrop https://www.inkdrop.info/

Like what's wrong with the macOS Notes app?

For me the biggest annoyance is its insistence of "helping" you by auto converting double quotes into smart quotes.

Handy for nicely formatted prose, not so useful for code snippets.

I have been using Trello. To save a screenshot, I Ctrl+Cmd+Shift+4 the screen, and paste directly into a card. It's fast.

Very cool!

Just wanted to say that the nodes app in nextcloud is very handy too!

Actually, if Nextcloud could embed this Laverna somehow... that would be awesome.

I exported my contents and I found my contents in plain text. I think exported contents should be encrypted too.

I love Evernote for its ocr capabilities, so I can go paperless. But it seems this is not implemented here.

Bear notes is free if you don't sync your devices and it supports markdown well. Very clean app.

The two must haves for me are integration with org mode (as was mentioned in thread) and with Zotero.

I like it. Better than evernote. evernote was like trying to win a marathon running backwards.

We have had this application for a long time. It is called a text editor or a word processor.

Creating notes is not the problem people are trying to solve. They're trying to make managing them easier.

“laverna.app” can’t be opened because it is from an unidentified developer.


Right-click and select Open.

Last release 1 year ago... seems dead, right?

while the demo worked well, under the hood looks like a somewhat aging codebase

>Laverna for android is coming soon

I'd probably start using it right now if it was already available for Android.

It's really cool to see another app using remoteStorage for sync! I built Toc Messenger a few years ago on top of remoteStorage for sync as well, and it was a pleasure to work with (https://github.com/lewisl9029/toc, the actual app is no longer functioning since I took down the seed server quite a while ago). Unfortunately, it seems like the technology hasn't gained much traction since I last worked with it. The only 2 hosts listed on their wiki that offer hosted remoteStorage are the same that I saw two years ago: https://wiki.remotestorage.io/Servers

The other alternative sync method offered is Dropbox, and if it's also using the remoteStorage library as the interface as I'm assuming, it would have to depend on their Datastore API, which has been deprecated for more than a year now AFAIK (https://blogs.dropbox.com/developers/2015/04/deprecating-the...). Is that aspect of the app still functional? If anyone knows any other user-provided data storage APIs like Dropbox Datastore or remoteStorage that's more actively developed and supported, I'd love to hear about them.

The concept of apps built on user-provided and user-controlled data-sources, envisioned by projects like remoteStorage and Solid (https://solid.mit.edu/), has always been immensely appealing to me. If users truly controlled their data, and only granted apps access to the data they need to function (instead of depending on each individual app to host user data in their own locked-off silos), then switching to a different app would be a simple matter of granting another app access to the same pieces of data. Lock-in would no longer be a thing!

Imagine that! We could have a healthy and highly competitive app ecosystem where users choose apps by their own merit instead of by the size of their moat built on nothing but network effects. Newcomers could unseat incumbents by simply providing a better product that users want to switch to. Like a true free-market meritocracy!

Sadly, this is a distant dream because both newcomers and incumbents today realize the massive competitive advantage lock-in and network effects afford them. Incumbents will never give up their moat and allow the possibility of interop without a fight, and newcomers all end up racing to build up their own walled-off data silos because they have ambitions to become an incumbent enjoying a moat of their own one day. Even products that are built on top of open protocols and allow non-trivial interop tend to eventually go down the path of embrace, extend, extinguish, once they reach any significant scale.

I'm starting to think strong legislation around data-portability and ownership may be the only way a future like this could stand to exist, but the incumbents of today and their lobbying budgets will never let that happen.

Download no thanks

I'm still using paper over here, nothing seems to do it for me on the computer. Paper is great, and paper is king.

I'm working on that too. Paper is king. Unfortunately my paper king has multiple fiefdoms strewn throughout my house and office. Sadly his territory span not just space, but time. There are unsearchable notes in books that cover years. I need to move the kingdom into the digital age.

I also love paper (and notebooks and pens) but am in the same situation. The new iPad Pro + Pencil look like a real alternative. I like the idea of having all my notes stored digitally especially if I can get OCR to work reasonably well.

Much like the wicked witch of the west though, the paper king is easily destroyed by water.

Or fire. Or wind. Good earth resistance, +1 if clay coat.

Or by my own sweaty hands.

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