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Noteplan – Markdown Calendar, Todos, and Notes (noteplan.co)
184 points by jbverschoor 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 98 comments

There are many fully FREE & opensource tools

VNote[0] for all desktops (Linux, Windows, macOS), that discussed[1] on HN too.

Markor[2] for Android, already available on F-Droid[3].

[0] http://github.com/tamlok/vnote

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16149821

[2] https://github.com/gsantner/markor

[3] https://f-droid.org/packages/net.gsantner.markor/

You can get basically the same thing with Vim and Taskwarrior; this is my preferred solution because I tend to live in Vim (for better or worse) and there are Taskwarrior clients that sync to everything. You can search the whole thing, and version control it if you want. It's a bit more manual but I'd argue equal in effectiveness.



This looks really cool. I'd love to see it cross-platform.

There's an interesting pattern developing (hopefully). Things that used to be GUI-only are now getting text interfaces, many times with some modified version of markdown. I made a free tool to capture analysis notes and diagrams a while back. You can see a demo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFVfTpXCIiI As part of that, at the lowest level of detail I wanted a way to capture diagrams using plain text. Something universal.

We're almost there -- not quite there, but close. I found ways to do Activity Diagrams, flowcharts, domain models, and some other stuff using text. The formats were just a bit too dissimilar for comfort.

Why use text for all sorts of things that used to be graphical? Version control, text slicing and dicing, separation of document from view.

I'd love to see this trend continue, along with a consolidation into a super-markdown syntax. It could handle calendaring, diagramming, perhaps even layout -- along with what it currently does. I don't think you'd have to hack it up too much, but admittedly I haven't looked into the spec that much.

The endgame for this, IMO, is GUI tools that generate and manipulate text-based file formats. The tool Lyx does this; it's a kinda-WYSIWYG Latex editor. I'd like to see more of these, e.g. for Markdown, Graphviz, and OpenSCAD.

I'm guessing XML doesn't count as a text-based file format? Otherwise, that's what every office suite (technically a zip file of XML files, but that's splitting hairs), vector editor, and graphical HTML editor already does.

Anyway, I especially like the `sc` spreadsheet format and editor as an example of a GUI tool that works with text-based file formats. Despite the giant disclaimer at the top of each file saying not to edit it, it's shockingly human-friendly.

XML is OK, but it's not exactly human-readable, nor does it play well with version control tools. You can actually edit OpenSCAD and Markdown files and be reasonably productive.

For anyone who happens to come see this post from the future: FreeCAD does have an OpenSCAD interface, and Gephi (I think) has some kind of Graphviz import/export feature.

I'd looked at Noteplan previously, and it is a nice implementation.

They may want to re-read the first review that they have posted on their site, meant to support the product. It says, "Well thought through, nicely designed and untuitively to use."

Untuitive is not a word, however it is also listed as slang in the urban dictionary as the opposite of intuitive. "I couldn't figure out how to use that web app, the navigation was untuitive."

I'm sure the review meant intuitive not untuitive, but being the very first review listed on their home page, it may make sense to fix the listing in order to not to give people the wrong impression.

Thanks for mentioning. Yeah this seems to be a typo. The "u" is just beside the "i" on the keyboard. The rest of the review wouldn't make much sense otherwise.

Not a problem! I'm glad that helped.

I do like the program. Thank you.

Agreed on needing to be cross-platform. Evernote with this type of functionality would almost be there.

I tried it out a couple of months ago, but then decided to not go forward with it.

After the trial was over, i was inable ro access my markdown notes again. I really really hate when I get locked into a product. No matter how open and cool it looks thanks to Markdown.

I don't see any lock in: https://noteplan.co/faq/Save%20&%20Sync/How%20your%20notes%2...

I use it and all my notes are in ~/Library/Application Support/co.noteplan/Calendar as text files. I don't think you lose anything if you want to migrate away.

As soon as your subscription is over you lose access to everything? Ok, that’s a total deal breaker right there.

Something is not right here. The notes are stored on your computer in plain text files, so you can't lose access to them. If you can't use the app to access them, well that seems okay.

You were unable to access your notes or you were unable to access your notes through Note plan?

It’s slightly amusing how often people reinvent parts of org-mode.

This is a little bit of a silly sentiment. Not everyone wants to use emacs as their daily planner, esp. since it doesn't come with cross-platform syncing or modern GUI out of the box. It would be like saying "It's slightly amusing how often people reinvent the Model T" every time a new car was announced.

> since it doesn't come with cross-platform syncing or modern GUI

Nope. My side project literally solves that: https://github.com/mickael-kerjean/nuage/wiki/Org-Mode (it's open source as well)

I don't see a literal box in your side project, so I'm not sure it does?

This is a native macOS and iOS app?

As for now it runs in the browser (Sass version would be my demo: https://nuage.kerjean.me/ but you can host it anywhere else (even AWS Lammbda)). I never though about making it native to macOS, Linux or Windows as emacs is already available on those platform and pretty much superior but it can be done with electron.

I’m actually using it with “beorg” (iOS) and find it to be incredibly useful (and cross-platform). I use it for notes, outlines of lectures etc as well as managing my calendar.

Locking yourself into another proprietary tool is something you (eventually) learn is a bad idea.

Emacs is cross platform, and since org mode works on plain files, dropbox or any similar software will provide you cross platform syncing.

wow, emacs comes with dropbox out of the box now? That seems like scope creep.

> "wow, emacs comes with dropbox out of the box now?"

I think this was a parsing error.

Your parent:

> "Emacs is cross platform, and since org mode works on plain files, dropbox or any similar software will provide you cross platform syncing."

Alternative construction:

Emacs is cross platform and org-mode works on plain files. Therefore Dropbox or any similar software will provide you with cross platform syncing.

I guess the point was that it's still not the same thing. Sure you can do a whole lot of things with emacs if you configure it properly, but configuring everything to work together takes much more time than a complete feature set that is already included.

He was being facetious.

Not out of the box, but it sure has a Dropbox client package: https://github.com/pavpanchekha/dropbox.el.

Who cares? Org-mode wasn't the first, nor the best. People are often inventing different solutions for the same domain of problems. That's how healthy competition works.

What was? (First, best)

Lotus Agenda

That piece of string on my finger...

I've tried org-mode, and Emacs, several times. I even bought a copy of Mastering Emacs Mickey Petersen. But I just don't care for Emacs and I suspect that there are other people who feel the same way.

This argument is really important actually. The design pattern to separate the data from the application solves it. And org-mode has done that in a way as the data is in text-files. But it's not marketed like that. We should really see org-mode as two parts:

- Org-mode data format

- Software implementation that understands the data

  - Emacs

  - ...
The syntax is very well thought out as well. Specification here: (https://orgmode.org/worg/dev/org-syntax.html)

Maybe it's a bit late to hope for wide software adoption for the org-syntax. Markdown has in a way taken that space already. But... I'm still hoping! ;)

I'd love org syntax to be more widely adopted, but it probably isn't going to happen. That's because org syntax, without org mode, is just slightly better Markdown. That's not very impressive.

Org mode has so many fans because of what the implementation (i.e. org-mode in Emacs) can do with those files. It works as an awesome ASCII table editor. It works as a half-decent spreadsheet. It works as a great planner. It works as a better version of Jupyter. And couple other things.

Noteplan seems to separate data from application as well. All files are stored in plain text

I'm one of those people, I get why it's great in theory but in practice every thing about it puts me off, the commands all feel weird (again I understand why - I'm aware of the history), the documentation is lack luster in places, the whole thing just feels off.

I'm the same with vim (and against I get why people love it).

Most all of my programming is done in an IDE and when I just want an editor (markdown usually) I tend to use vscode (I use it when I have a lot of frontend stuff to do as well, it's TS mode is better than Intellij's).

I feel almost the same, although after trying to force vim on myself for a week I found that I missed the basic motion commands (moving across words and lines, deleting words and lines, etc.). It does feel faster to not have to move my right hand to somewhere else to move around in my code. Fortunately just about every modern IDE and editor has some kind of vim emulation so I can get the best of both worlds!

I'm looking for an organization tool like this.

I don't currently use any of the big programming text editors (no emacs) so am pretty much starting from scratch.

Is org-mode great enough to invest in the learning curve over something like this, or over microsoft one note?

Most of my work is in windows using excel/word/outlook + SAS, oracle SQL, and R (using enterprise guide, toad, and rstudio resp.).

> or over microsoft one note?

Choosing one note from the beginning is agreeing technical debt is an awesome thing:

- you're stuck with Windows (or whatever mac version they did)

- no way to properly version control it (proprietary format and not just text)

- good luck to migrate somewhere else (I already experienced it with a colleague that left the company and had his entire knowledge base in there ...)

- you got to be happy with the direction Microsoft is taking it.

> Is org-mode great enough to invest in the learning curve over something like this

I don't know about this tool but org mode is as open as it can be and it's been here since years, text based. The time investment is minimal if you just want to use it, it's just all the features around that can take time. I wrote up a tutorial on getting started with org mode if you want to touch the surface of it (https://mickael.kerjean.me/2017/03/20/emacs-tutorial-series-...)

> Most of my work is in ..... R

You can literally put R code snippet in your org document and execute it straight from there but that's just one of the many features org mode has to offer

> - good luck to migrate somewhere else (I already experienced it with a colleague that left the company and had his entire knowledge base in there ...)

That's not a real problem, you can export onenote to many other doc formats. https://www.howtogeek.com/howto/22679/beginner-save-your-one...

> That's not a real problem, you can export onenote to many other doc formats

Oh it's a real problem alright.

Having used many notes apps & formats over the years, I've been burned by this notion too many times to ever fall for it again. Exporting is only a practical means of migrating sizeable note collections if the export and subsequent import into another system can be done with high fidelity for both content and metadata. This is extremely rare. In practice, the exported version nearly always requires an amount of reorganisation work that's impractical if you have years' worth of notes.

I'll never again use notes software that uses an opaque storage format. In a way I regret this, as it precludes Onenote, Evernote etc, which do have their advantages (no note app I've tried has ever had as nice a basic canvas as Onenote, for example). But longevity and cross-platform availability are the keys for me.

None of the export option are grepable. In 2018, it's a nice touch to be able to export your note making it discoverable and searchable for anybody in the team (even if they don't use your note system).

I would have love to put my colleague note on our internal slack, the html export was the closest thing I could use but in practise the generate code is so crapy that it's wasn't possible without spending a lot of time cleaning up the mess and nobody were able to properly find something in his many years worth of internal knowledge base.

Seriously? If you can't do all that with a .docx file then you might want to branch out of your .txt comfort zone a little more often.

My colleague many years worth of knowledge base didn't really fit in a .docx that can be shared and used among all the coworkers in something like slack. I'm not talking about just a few pages, but literally book worth of internal knowledge.

Wow, apparently you really didn't know that you can export from .docx to text or html. Well, the good news is that you could export from OneNote to .docx to text or html, and now you can finally use your colleague's notes again in slack.

Thanks for the rely and tutorial link! I will definitely check it out when I'm not behind my damn work firewall.

Quick added question (And apologies if addressed there already) any thoughts on alternate editors to emacs that also work with org-mod if I'm not invested in emacs already?

I've been doing some searching and see suggestions for spacemacs as a more intuitive editor to roll it into. (space key instead of ctrl, mnemonics used in commands)

> any thoughts on alternate editors to emacs that also work with org-mod

emacs is the roll roice when it comes to org documents but out of it is perfectly fine, it's like editing markdown documents. I created a web version of orgmode that has quite a few of the goodies from the original orgmode: https://github.com/mickael-kerjean/nuage/wiki/Org-Mode

> I've been doing some searching and see suggestions for spacemacs as a more intuitive editor to roll it into.

spaceemacs is emacs + some stuff. It's like choosing ubuntu over arch linux, the only difference is the flavoring. Personally I'm a purist so I only go with the original version. The link I sent you is actually part of a serie I wrote on emacs that start here: https://mickael.kerjean.me/2017/03/18/emacs-tutorial-series-...

Learning org-mode plus enough emacs to use it is vastly more difficult than learning OneNote, and the macOS and iOS versions of OneNote are also quite good (it's not at all Windows-only). You may also export to various other formats and it's not text only; sometimes notes aren't only text but include images or handwriting (which can be OCRed and searched).

If you're not already using emacs I don't know if the learning curve is worth it just for org mode.

But as an example of what it can do (with a little customization), I use org mode for writing fiction. I give each scene a header kind of like a film script slug line. They automatically become foldable, so I can collapse them and just read the headers as an outline. Scenes can be rearranged at will. I can also work backwards from the headers, starting with an outline then filling in the scenes. I can also throw in todo list items wherever I want, on their own or interspersed with the text as reminders for things I want to go back to and edit. Then I have the exporter strips out all the org mode formatting, headers, etc and spit out the text in double spaced manuscript format.

It's the best writing tool I've ever used, with the possible exception of Scrivener.

Another +1 from an Emacs and Org mode user. I keep on wishing that I got introduced to Emacs sooner in my life.

It will help you with the organization using Org mode. But as you use it more, you might find yourself doing many more things more efficiently in Emacs.

Emacs is not something like Notepad where you go through all the settings and be rest assured that you know everything about the tool. Emacs is so extensible that if someone claims to know it 100%, they are naive. The beauty is that you learn to use the stuff that only you need, and learn more things as they come.

I am telling the above because you might get overwhelmed looking at Org mode feature set. But you don't have to know everything in that.. just learn and srart using what you need right now.

Emacs has reminded me of learning an instrument. It takes work to become proficient, but it is a rewarding and enjoyable process.

Emacs Speaks Statistics is a project I want to get into but have heard great things about that might interest you, it has support for R, Stata, SAS, etc.

Emacs is also great for email (I use notmuch). I also thought that Spacemacs or Doom were great ways to get into Emacs. Once you get into Emacs you won't be satisfied with most other things. Org-mode is the only platform that can do anything I want, and things I didn't even know I wanted. If you like tinkering and have free time (a spare weekend here and there), configuring Emacs becomes a hobby that is quite captivating and rewards you with a powerful tool for productivity, education, or work.

With enough effort invested, org mode would work for you as an organizational tool + a better Jupyter for code (R, SQL).

The learning curve is not really that big - you just have to accept you're going to learn using a new power tool, and be actually willing to spend more than 5 minutes on it, and occasionally open a manual or a tutorial. If you have couple of hours to spare, I recommend getting Emacs and playing a bit with Org mode. This will be enough for you to get a feel of whether you may like it or not.

(However, if most of your organization is related to your work on MS suite, I think you might be better off with One Note anyway, because of the deep integration of Microsoft tools.)

I tried using org-mode, but I would actually like simpler/reinvented version of it.

The great thing with org is that you can as much or as little of it as you want. One can even use it as a simple TODO list in a single file without using any of the power features. And then one can gradually expand this by using more features if needed. But org can be used efficiently as a very simple, barebone tool if one prefers that.

My keybase is in my profile, drop me a line!

Or rummage about in my github. It isn't alpha yet, but what's visible is the tip of an iceberg...

I've started using org for a month or two, and I love it. However, getting things synced across my devices is a problem, especially since beorg doesn't support Google Drive sync.

I feel like this product has its own unique spot on the market provided they can get sync perfect and feature parity with org-agenda. Hopefully they have a CLI client in the works.

I sync with `git pull`.

really? dropbox does a better job with the sync for me, across all devices.

I guess that's true, but I personally use Drive more than Dropbox, and I just wanted that choice to be there.

Shameless plug: https://github.com/mickael-kerjean/nuage/wiki/Org-Mode

It works on google drive and pretty much everywhere else as well but it's open source

I think there's something to be said for out of the box sync and integration with calendar support. Within 10 minutes, I have my phone / computer setup to Noteplan. It is synced with my calendars and I'm playing around with the different syntax to create events and lists.

If I spend more than 30 minutes on something, 35$ is a fair price to pay for that time. I have used org-mode and getting it setup cross-device takes significantly more than 30 minutes.

(cross device including mobile where git isn't available like it is on a desktop)

> cross device including mobile where git isn't available like it is on a desktop

Proper version control for note is a great thing to have, fortunatly there's ways to make it work cross devices: https://github.com/mickael-kerjean/nuage/wiki/Org-Mode (the screenshots were taken from a mobile device using Git as the place to store documents)

That sounds a bit to me like why should you create Slack when you have irssi.

Great idea. Not as sophisticated and little simpler I published a new day-to-day journal standard called Journal.TXT [1] - The Human Multi-Document Format for Writers a while ago. Lets you write single-text file journals in text with markdown formatting conventions. [1]: https://journaltxt.github.io

I'm a fan of the idea and design, but I'm curious how well it works for non Apple users. Is there a web interface planned? I've been wanting something like this for a while now.

Syncing with existing calendar apps would be cool too, but I care a bit less about that, and maybe a bit more about some form of self-hosting the data.

Does it sync with my normal calendar? (e.g. google calendar setup)

I think it works with the iCloud calendar, maybe if you have the Google Calendar setup on your iPhone, then it does.

It appears to import from your calendar, but doesn't export to, unless I'm mistaken.

very clean looking productivity tool. desktop client looks especially slick.

aside: i thought the time lapse transition[1] in the demo was pretty cleverly done

[1]: https://i.imgur.com/X6BwS9c.gif

My two criteria for it to be useful for me:

- Can I use latex?

- does it render inline single page PDF images?

This is exactly what I've been looking for. I tried to fill in the gap with org-mode a while back, but I fell out with it. It simply doesn't cross the gap of calendars, ad hoc meetings, etc.

I really like how integrated noteplan is cross-device and to my calendars. It "just works" and took me only a few minutes to get setup. The biggest setup pain point is that I didn't have my native calendar integration setup right.

35$ is more than fair for something that would take multiple hours to setup with other tools.

NotePlan is really nice indeed, and I’ve recently started using it as it’s avalible through the Setapp [1]. I think the iOS app needs some more polishing but since files are plain text, I can live with it and edit stuff on some other apps on iPhone or iPad. I also wish they’d have used the Taskpaper syntax for date-time management.

[1]: https://setapp.sjv.io/c/1237684/408056/5114

I have tried to design a similar workflow using OmniOutliner, but miserably failed. I'm using it for basic todos and one line notes but it is nowhere close to this functionality.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Joplin[0] yet. Markdown support, great synchronization (for the supported options), cross platform support (albeit with Electron), and mobile support.

It doesn't do calendar integration (which probably makes it slightly off-topic), but for a lot of the other items mentioned in general note taking posts below, it works fantastically well.

[0] https://joplin.cozic.net/

I've been using Dynalist.io to the same effect for over a year now. It's also a bit more flexible than Noteplan looks, and has similar features like Workflowy

I love using Dynalist for lists. It works very well with how I think.

For a complete note taking app I would like being able to insert more than text (or richer text) into the lists.

For simplicity and speed (the mobile app is an adapted version of the webapp, which is adapted well but still has problems with gestures, UI consistency and has to load for up to seconds on startup) my notes king is still Simplenote, which just processes text, but is very fast, native on Android (web on desktop) and has amazing synching.

I haven't noticed any performance issues with Dynalist, but thanks for the tip on Simplenote!

This demo page is sluggish on a year old Macbook (Chrome). https://dynalist.io/demo/4kpmt51ULD2RgJlcb8IZLZai

It could be just the demo. I've never experienced sluggishness of even older hardware with the actual app

Serious question: why is keyboard long-press for moving the cursor gone? That bit of UI solved a real problem, and I'm finding this app very clumsy to use without it. For $15, I dislike feeling mildly annoyed the entire time I'm trying to type into a text app.

Limitation in the framework. We are re-writing the iOS version to support this. See https://noteplan.co/assets/videos/new-ios-version.MP4 somewhere at the end of the video its working.

Are there plans on implementing end-to-end encryption for syncing? This is the most important thing missing in almost all other notes/todo apps in my opinion.

We are using iCloud Drive, which is encrypted as per Apple before it is sent to their servers. But we are thinking to implement local encryption as well, if this is something users want.

You could build in end-to-end encryption on top of iCloud Drive. Without it, anyone with access to iCloud servers can read users' private notes, including Apple, Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry Co. in China, etc.

I have been looking for something just like this! But, even though I use a Mac, I have an Android phone (Android One, Moto x4). So close!

This is great. Someone has taken org mode and make it work outside of emacs.

Very nice.

It already exist and works out of emacs: https://github.com/mickael-kerjean/nuage/wiki/Org-Mode

So I can download an app and use it right now?

The app is a browser you can use once you found a suitable home for the server either by:

- Selfhosting: you install the server all by yourself

- Saas mode: https://nuage.kerjean.me/ (that's my instance I use everyday)

- PaaS mode: Coming soon with heroku but also works with AWS Lambda

Could make it an electron thinghy as well but just never thought about it until now.

Well, the beauty of it is that it integrated niceley with calendar and reminders

if emacs?! why this?

because mac != emacs

Still pen and paper for me! (Said in Ned Flanders’ voice)

Wow, I was expecting this to be open source. I would never pay money for this.

(I'm not affiliated w/ this product at all)

this seems un-constructive and mean-spirited. IMO, at the _very_ least, you should offer a reason as to why this isn't your cup of tea.

Why would you never pay money for this? Do you mean this is a poor product in some way or simply that you would never pay money for software, either for ideological or financial reasons or both?

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