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Notion – All-in-one workspace for notes, tasks, wikis, and databases (notion.so)
970 points by torvald 34 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 479 comments



Just in case someone might need it: I reverse engineered their API and wrote (an unofficial) client for accessing the data: https://github.com/kjk/notionapi

It's for Go but one could easily port it to any other language. It's just HTTP requests and some light processing of JSON responses.

I use it so that I can have my blog content in Notion. In a daily cron job I download the data from Notion, convert it to HTML and publish on Netlify as a static website. This script is open source: https://github.com/kjk/blog

Basically I use Notion as CMS.

I described my reverse-engineering process in https://blog.kowalczyk.info/article/88aee8f43620471aa9dbcad2...


Yikes, they don't have an official API? Hardly interested in making a closed system my "central source of truth"



Also, it's easy to export your entire workspace as raw data. Markup files, images, etc.


Problem is that the export does not preserve node nesting, which is a problem for an outliner


They don’t work as well with all the latex math.


The data is the "source of truth" and those can be exported, backed up, etc, easily.

Whether there's a programmatic API or not, that's another matter entirely.


That is because few people really care and aware of it.


I used this library for inspiration and extended to write some cli tools for use from vim: https://github.com/tmc/notion/tree/master/cmd


Aw this is perfect! I've been using notion and have always wished they had an api for this exact purpose! Thanks for sharing this!


Are you sure you want to invest into something that requires you to depend on some third party hack to do what you want it to do?


Nice job! How do you keep your login token fresh?


I don't.

When used on publicly visible pages, there's no need for login token.

For private pages, the user would have to provide a new login token when it expired.

It only happened once in several months for me.

I'm hoping that my library will become obsolete when they have an official API.

I talked with them and gave them my wishlist for what capabilities the official API should have.


Used notion for about 6 months, but stopped for two main reasons:

1. It's extremely slow on even a new iPhone - about 6-7 seconds until I can start typing a note. By then I forget what I wanted to write. It's basically a webview of a very heavy web app, so it's not snappy at all.

2. No offline support whatsoever.

In addition it feels like they have abandoned development or are busy being acquired (~bi-weekly updates until about three months ago: https://www.notion.so/What-s-New-157765353f2c4705bd45474e5ba...)

I migrated back to Bear (https://bear.app/) which was a pain - exporting from Notion is also not one of their best features.


> In addition it feels like they have abandoned development or are busy being acquired (~bi-weekly updates until about three months ago: https://www.notion.so/What-s-New-157765353f2c4705bd45474e5ba...)

Notion founders, do you care to comment on this? My company recently started a paid account on Notion and I'd love to know more.


Lillie from Notion here! We're working on a big release, hence the cadence has slowed down some. But we have definitely not abandoned development, nor are we being acquired :)


Thank you, glad to hear it! I use Notion everyday and am a big fan.


The founder (ivanzhao) has made an appearance and only made one comment to so far to thank for some praise.

Hasn't addressed a single question or replied to any concerns/feedback. Not a great sign and makes me reluctant to give it another try.


This lack of interaction and response to put a hold on my excited trial run.


Sorry about that. Heads down on the release at the moment and haven't checked this thread much. Will do better.

Ivan


Our team of 25 use Notion as a replacement for Asana AND google docs AND sometimes excel (for tables). We LOVE it. Thanks so much!


I also plan to buy a pro plan in the coming months, don't wanna buy a ticket on a sinking ship... A response would be appreciated


Bear is pretty good, but not really comparable.

Bear is "just" a personal Markdown note app. No folders, no support for anything other than text/images, no collaborative editing, no support for multiple workspaces. The tag model is nice, but pretty limited.

Notion's raison d'être is collaborative, structured text: Workspaces for sharing and editing documents, with a rich set of embeddable objects (for example, you can embed Github gists and CodePens). It also has some pretty powerful Airtable-type database support where you can treat pages as records, and then view/sort/filter them in different presentation modes (gallery, board, etc.). Like Airtable, this lets you build mini apps such as task boards inside pages.

Bear's in the same space as iA Writer, Apple's Notes, etc. Notion's closest competitors are probably Google Docs, Dropbox Paper and possibly Quip and Milanote.


There’s also another competitor to those mentioned, called Coda (https://coda.io) The biggest downside they have compared to Notion is that docs are separate from each other. There’s no structured workspace. Dropbox Paper also has this problem.


I didn't know about Bear. Just had a look on their website and the application and user experience looks pretty stunning.

However, I am not quite sure it justifies paying for this service when Apple Notes has got a lot better in the past few years (I also feel confident in the privacy approach of Apple).

Out of curiosity, what features make you use Bear and not Notes? I take a lot of notes, and if something can make my life easier, I would seriously consider making the move.


Main difference to Notes is that Bear uses Markdown as the data format. It has a rare capability of converting webpages to Markdown when you save them as a note using a sharing extension on iOS. The conversion is decent.

But as mentioned above it also lacks important organisation features: no folders, no dated notes, etc.


I use notes for every bit of random stuff, things to quickly remember, et al. I keep Bear for serious writing -- researching for a blog post, documenting for a Design Sprint. I love Bear's export to multiple formats.

So, I scribble on Notes and write on Bear.


I used Bear too but switched to Agenda recently. Check that out - IMO better organisation than Bear but feature parity is there.


Bear uses CloudKit for the backend so should be just as private as Apple Notes.


Lillie from Notion here again - this upcoming release is going to seriously help with speed as well as improve usage offline and on unstable connections. This is one of the reasons we've been working on it for so long!


I've tried using Notion on iOS and it feels so slow and I know it is not native because swiping back should get me back to the current page but it just refreshed the whole page. Are there plans migrating iOS to a more native one?


FYI, Bear does not support markdown table syntax


They recently announced that table support is coming: https://mailchi.mp/shinyfrog/bear-sneak-peek-2019?e=61b84ce0...


There is something about Notion that makes it feel very well-made and coherent. It’s one of the few apps I use with this inherent feeling of quality (off the top of my head Sublime Text/Merge, Beyond Compare, Things fall into this category of intangible greatness). Every interaction is delightful, and the app scales really well from basic note-taking to decently complex databases with grouping, filters, relations, templates and permissions. It comes with really good real-time collaboration.

On the flip side the software a bit slow to start and uses a lot of resources—it’s based on Electron, but I encourage everyone to try it (the demo on their website is cool!).

This is as close to “painting the back of the fence” as it gets.


Notion's founder here. Thank you for the kind words - we are honored :-)

To be honest, nothing we are doing is that new. Most of the ideas came from the 70s-80s (Alan Kay, Doug Engelbart, Ted Nelson...) We are just applying a fresh coat of paint.

Of course, there's still a lot more to be done to fully realize these pioneers' dreams of computing as a medium for everyone – not just programmers like us. If you are interested to learn more or work with us, feel free to message me directly at ivan at makenotion.com, or link below. We are happy to host you for lunch: https://www.notion.so/notion/Join-Us-e7aeb157238a4603a2964b2...

Have a good one! Ivan


I see a lot of potential for Notion and really enjoy the service, but currently it still feels a little rough. Some thoughts:

- while the browser-based webapp is mostly fine, the mobile apps feel really subpar and somewhat out of place on iPad and iPhone alike: Sluggish, slow animations, inconsistent keyboard behavior, unnecessarily large fullscreen modals on iPad - it's very noticeable that it isn't a native app. It feels like a second class citizen. I'd like to make Notion a central part of my daily, essential tools - similarly to an app like Things. Unfortunately the difference in user experience is night and day. Please consider developing native apps.

- this is a very minor issue, but since I often use Notion as a note taking tool the rigid separation of paragraphs into multiple isolated content blocks is rather annoying. It leads to side effects like "Select all" on iOS actually not select all, but just the current block/paragraph. I think text, regardless of the number of paragraphs or format, should be one single block until it's actually interrupted by inline data structures like tables or galleries.

Other than that I love the idea of your service, which can turn a blank canvas into a simple text document or a fully featured Airtable-like application, or anything inbetween.


I also have similar issues with the text processing.

I like the model they use that everything is a block - you get predictable behaviour, but I do think the normal shortcut for select all should select a page, and that I should be able to select text from multiple paragraphs using keyboard commands (if you do ctrl+shift+arrow you get stuck at the edge of a block).


Agreed. Mobile and text editing two of our weakest areas. A lot more work ahead of us but we'll get there!

Ivan


We love notion and pay you all a lot of money. Please please fix the search


What do you find wrong with the search? It's pretty good for me, except one day where the indexing must have screwed up and it was ignoring the thing I knew was there.


Since it's Electron-based are you open to the idea of supporting Linux instead of just Windows/Mac?


>Alan Kay, Doug Engelbart, Ted Nelson

It is impressive that your work is directly on top of the work done by the guy who invented the mouse, the guy who invented smalltalk and so on. Are you sure there were no inventions in between?


Give linux love. I was interested in trying it after reading comments, but as it is I can't touch it until there is a linux build.


Notion is a webapp. You can use it fine with a browser. I think everyone is missing the fact that the desktop apps are not necessary.


I downloaded the app months ago for my Mac but honestly forgot I even had it installed until I read this thread. I use the website every day just fine. There’s no need for the app.


I use Linux, am a heavy Notion user through the web app and I'm very happy. I'm not sure why people would want the desktop apps (I do use the android app for a bit of on he go reading and adding images).


Hi. Can you share how you think Notion is better than say Quip? I use Quip extensively but am open to trying something new.


Can you handle PHI? Because I can imagine letting small providers (like my wife) transmogrify this into their own personal EHR. If it can handle PHI.


Say what you will about Electron apps that use excessive resources and lack native touches, but they are definitely not “as close to painting the back of the fence as it gets.”

That Jobs-ism was specifically about caring about the internals of a product that nobody looks at, but you know are there.


This has been downvoted so let me expand on this. I am not judging Electron so please relax.

The Steve Jobs quip about painting the back of the fence sought to explain why the Apple II and Mac teams cared so much about the inside of the box and even signed it. It's why they invested so much in the OS X internals and stuck with a native focus that helped iOS be so fast and nimble out of the gate on extremely resource-constrained mobile devices. That's "painting the back of the fence."

It is a very distinct concept from focusing on user-visible details, which I think is what you're referencing here. That's still the front of the fence. Back of the fence is the fine touches on the unseen internals, but reflect a general care and pride in your craft that will probably pay off in the long run.

"And while sacrifices were often made of money, time and frustration, users of Apple products often reaped the rewards."[1] This is definitely not the Electron approach. It's about taking the extra time and care to do it native. You can chose that path or not, but understand what this very important element of Apple's philosophy means because it affects so much of the past couple decades of our industry.

[1] https://thenextweb.com/apple/2011/10/24/steve-jobs-obsession...


They use Electron, but don't have a build for Linux. Why.


Having built an electron app with linux support: it takes time and effort to get it right, you have to come up with a different updating strategy than windows/mac, and they might not have many users on linux at the moment (low priority).

It's not as simple as "add a flag to build linux." There's a little bit more to it.


You can access it via web with any modern web browser, so does it matter?


Then why bother with the desktop client at all?


Some people like to have things in separate apps (even if they are not native) just so you can open and close it quicker than finding it in your tabs or getting distracted by all the other content open in your browser.

That's why there are apps packaging websites in apps too: https://meetfranz.com


I agree. I'm just wondering why that's a good enough reason not to have a Linux client when it's already using Electron?


Yes it matters. I could write a WebKit2 wrapper for the webapp in 10 minutes just so I can treat it a like a standalone app and not just another tab. If it's electron, give me linux.


yes


I honestly never use their Electron app, even though I have it installed. One thing about Electron apps is that they also usually work great in the browser :)


I really like Notion and have this same feeling. The app being Electron is a really big bummer for me, though. Performance is terrible on my Android phone. I really want to ditch Evernote but nothing seems to compare still.


Lillie from Notion here! We're improving our speed and performance across the board. We're also still working on features that Evernote has to make the transition easier, stay tuned ;)


It made me sad that the Evernote migration wasn't full fidelity. Been a few months, but I recall it didn't bring over pictures.


Notion is all about manipulating 'content', which is what browsers excel at.a

Were it not in Electron, it would most likely still have a big web widget occupying most of its frame.


I am a paying customer and it has always stand out for me in terms of UX. The only problem I see is that sometimes when I am editing a page I need to use the mouse because the keyboard just does not work in the way I am used to. This is a huge UX pain and I don't understand how didn't they fix it yet.


Can you link to the Merge software you mention? It's a difficult name to google.


He means Sublime Merge. https://www.sublimemerge.com


https://www.scootersoftware.com/index.php - (I'm not the OP but I favour Araxis Merge https://www.araxis.com/merge/index.en over Beyond Compare)


I prefer FileMerge. Built in to osx/xcode I believe.


Give Semantic Merge a try https://www.semanticmerge.com


The "quality" feeling of sublime app for me is majorly undermined by the constant nagging popups to pay for it. so many other services I happily pay for and somehow sublime has made me not want to pay for their services.


If you'd happily pay for it without the popups, why didn't you pay for it the first time the popup appeared? Would've saved you a lot of annoyance, no?


It's honestly the most polite nagware I've ever used.


So pay for it? Seems like you probably have gotten your worth out of it


That popup that appears like once in a while?

You know it goes away if you buy it, right? I own Sublime and honestly the nag is so NOT-annoying that I have more than one instance of sublime where I simply haven't bothered to enter the code


Hmm, I cannot seem to create an account without sharing my Google contacts; which I see no need to do and it's needless friction. I get into a loop of clicking checkbox "I don't want to share my Google contacts", then being rerouted back to login page and requested approval to share my contacts.

Pricing wise, I wish these types of apps didn't have such a steep escalation as soon as I want to share. $4 for individual, but $8/team member, which means wanting to share this with my wife is four times as expensive as just using it myself, with limited to no appreciable improvement.


Same here — I cannot create an account with a password. If you try to go in and do an email signup, they will punish you for it by emailing you every time with a new password, until you suffered enough that you'll relent and give them access to your Google account.

Not a great first impression — especially not after their support tells me that this is for my own security.


Wow. Thanks for the warning. Why the fuck would anyone be so user-hostile?


I use Notion with a non google e-mail and don't mind the password being e-mailed to me. I have to re-auth maybe once a month, tops, and it's one less password to manage.


It is an extremely frustrating practice (emailing you the password). I find that I have to go through this every few days for whatever reason and I've had cases where the email from Notion took five minutes to arrive.


I need to log in every time I close the tab. (For me, one less password to manage is not a concern, I have a password manager for that)


> wanting to share this with my wife is four times as expensive as just using it myself, with limited to no appreciable improvement.

I would hardly say "no appreciable improvement". IMHO it's appropriate to price products based on the value derived, not the effort to implement each incremental "feature". And the ability to share is the most human feature. We are social creatures. To share and collaborate and be relational is to be human :)

So the price jump feels fair to me. We can get near full-knowledge of the product at a reduced price point, but to be human with the tool, we get hit with the real cost :)

EDIT: I also don't like the actual pricing structure, but that's only because I would rather participate in co-operative systems, and dislike capitalist ones. The above comment is my putting myself in their shoes :)


I absolutely agree with your general principle, as I read it: price is not necessarily determined by your cost (which goes up only incrementally with added users), but by the value (what the customer is willing to pay, which may go up more significantly).

Specifically, however, I am indicating by my post that I'm not willing to pay 4x the price, for privilege of sharing - it does not have that value to me and it's not where my expectations were level-set :). [I currently use ToDoist which makes it easier to start (no privileges/contact sharing required) and add guest-editors/share]

My post is meant to provide feedback: I'm currently not trying their product (and I've explicitly provided why - the seemingly minor request to share my contacts), and I may not become paying customer once I figure out a way to try it (because the jump to my desired level of service is too high). It is up to the developers, if they read it, to gauge how representative I am of the target audience and therefore how relevant my concerns are; I'm assuming somebody like Pateo11 would quickly setup A/B switch - signup with and without asking for contact permissions, and see the impact :)


This suggests an opportunity for a separately priced "family" option to allow sharing for non-commercial use. Say $7/mo for up to 4 users?


ABsolutely; putting a maximum cap of 4-5 makes it a nice distinguishable offering; and it probably doesn't need same features as small workgroup, so they can differentiate on features (artificially or not:).


Are there examples of co-operative apps or pricing? I'm interested in that as well, but don't know of any!


Note: Notion's free plan actually provides unlimited users. But it only allows 1000 "blocks" (a heading, paragraph, file etc. counts as a block), so I imagine two users sharing notes would run out of space fast.


Where do you see it asking for contacts? It didn't ask me when I signed up and when I check my Google Security settings it only says it has access to:

* View your basic profile info (per Google: name, email address, and profile picture)

* View your email address


Hi Weizilla; that's interesting!

At approximately 14:00EST, clicking on "Get Started", then inputting a gmail address, offered ability to login via Google; then, request for contact permission. There was no way to avoid it.

As of right now, 16:22EST, that behaviour is different and I'm no longer seeing the prompt. I've tried different computers & laptops/browsers, to ensure it's not some cached/cookied experience, but it _appears_ the actual request is no longer being sent. Not sure!


Not surprising they're watching this thread, it would be a pretty massive deal inside a small company.


There is a way around that. First of all, if you and your wife have two free accounts and share workspace subtrees with each other, you can double the free content limit.

And if you pay for just one personal account, you can still share content with a free account. This is very close to having two people sharing one paid account, feature-wise.


Its really easy to sign up for a Google account for stuff like this, and I have multiple accounts on gmail anyways in case I dont want to share my important personal email.


Thanks Danvayn! :)

Agreed, but -- Ironically, one of the reasons I don't want to share my contacts is that I did use the Google Account I use for commercial tryouts... so there'd be no value in Notion.so having access to the contacts, let alone spamming me with any potential "helpful" tips or contacts or recommendations based on such contacts :P


If you install a native app, doesn't it completely have you by the balls anyhow?


The world is not android ;) Permissions and proxies exist.

Notion is a web app to AFAIK


Android would actually leave you in a much better position than Windows or macOS here, since the app has to at least go to the trouble of enumerating and requesting the permissions it wants. PC operating systems don't typically sandbox desktop apps by default, so the Windows/macOS versions of this would have free reign over anything accessible by your user.


On the latest version of macOS (Mojave), applications need to request the users’ permission before accessing photos, emails, webcam, microphone, calendars, and contacts, like how they do on iOS.


Neat. Hopefully that becomes standard practice for desktop operating systems.


I'm trying to create an account via desktop web interface, FWIW.


I am uncomfortable to put all personal thoughts, diaries, etc into a non-self-hosting place.

Can they dockerize this and sell that so I can self-host the docker image instead?

for people that is not tech-savvy, what about they buy a docker-container-hosted-by-the-vendor-company but can encrypt the contents in a way that nobody else can peek into the content ever?


It looks like they use FullStory, so employees can probably see everything you're doing. I'd be surprised if they were recording without ever watching the recordings.

(FullStory records what you do in your browser. It records all DOM elements, so all your data is being recorded and sent to a 3rd party.)


You can opt out of Fullstory tracking here > https://www.fullstory.com/optout/


These types of "services" should be opt-in, not opt-out.


Not that it should be necessary, notion should not be violating you're privacy by default, but at least uBlock/uMatrix block the entire fullstory domain by default.


Precisely why I use it. Unfortunately it can't block everything, and it's under heavy attack[1], as we know.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14978228


...Christ. DMCA against a plain-text list of domains? What is this, Shadowrun?


In the EU they are by law. In reality not all websites disclose all services they share data with though. And all users click accept in the cookie pop-up anyway.


FullStory is not opt in.

Source: am European


Have you seen those pop ups with a button to consent to cookies and a link to a privacy page where usage of 3rd party services like Fullstory has to be disclosed? That's your opt-in.


It is not opt in if I do not have an option to decline. "By continuing to use our website you agree" is not opt in and isnt GDPR conform.


Does that also opt you out of their apps too? Guessing all this does is set a cookie for that browser.


It sets the following:

{ "Domain": ".fullstory.com", "Name": "fs_optout", "Value": 1, "Path": "/", "Expires": null, "Store ID": "firefox-default", "First Party Domain": null, "Secure": false, "Session": true, "Http Only": false, "Host Only": false }


> "Session": true,

As in: this cookie will stick around as long as your browser is running, but when you close it and start it up again it will be gone?


If it’s like Matomo’s opt-out system, that cookie is required – it’s the very thing that turns on the opt-out.

When you opt-out of Matomo, the message warns that “if you clear your cookies, delete the opt-out cookie, or if you change computers or Web browsers, you will need to perform the opt-out procedure again”.

Matomo also honours the browser’s DNT setting, which is a) nice and b) rare.

https://matomo.org/docs/privacy/#step-4-respect-donottrack-p...


Mine has an expires set: 2046-05-31T19:47:10.000Z


Disabling by the browser will take no effect on the app or other browsers.


There's a reason nobody really does this: there's just no money in it. Nylas mail is a good example of this: it offered the ability to self-run it and pay them for the license, but nobody really did. I wonder what they would need to charge to make it feasible? $1000 a year? It makes me pretty sad, but it's just such a distraction for a company of Notion's size and stage.


On-prem enterprise software does make money. You still charge money for it either way. A few examples: Github Enterpise, JIRA, etc.

And notion doesn't need to see their users data to charge money for a service. They could engineer it to be E2E encrypted for the group and not have the ability to see their customers data even with a subpoena.


Enterprise is the key word here. Much more companies care about having control over their infrastructure. As for Notion, I guess even on Hacker News only a small share of users would care enough.


It's possibly something many of us should care more about, though.

Suppose your company handles a fair bit of confidential information, and some of that information ends up in Notion as part of your general project management workflow. Now you've got to worry about Notion experiencing a data breach, and whether or not that breach could get you in hot water with your clients, or even into legal trouble.

With on-prem options, you can gain a little extra confidence, because it can all live behind a firewall instead of being directly exposed to the Internet at large.


But again, that's enterprise.

This started with the idea of a personal on-prem solution, which is probably not worth the cost to maintain for the company. I mean, how much is it worth to you to have an on-prem personal solution for a diary? Because that's the worry... people are afraid that their household budget or their database that tracks the content of various adult films or whatever is going to get exposed. That's mostly about embarrassment, not actual harm. That's not something worth hundreds of dollars a month to most people.

And really, if I want to write down my deep dark thoughts where no one will read them, I'll use paper.


Personal users want E2E encyrption, so it doesn't matter who is running the server. And most users do not have the skill to run their own server. The technically advanced can just use the enterprise version if they really care about personal on prem.


Maybe we should change the notion that it's difficult to deploy an on prem service.

Why can't it be as simple as containerizing it and presenting it exactly like your would install an app on your phone, with the same possibility to grant permissions? App store provides automatic OTA updates so you don't have to bother about security. And the app itself should not have internet connectivity, connectivity is provided through authenticated tunnel into the container so the app cannot phone home in the background, you can only connect into it using the tunnel with your own password.


Even if you have the skill, is it worth the time to do on-prem, considering, you know, a pen and paper?

(Full disclosure: I'm a total bullet journaling convert. Given a choice between giving up my bullet journal and giving up Google Calendar/Docs and Trello, I'd give up the online stuff in a heartbeat.)


> It's possibly something many of us should care more about, though.

Definitely, but I'd argue that even with containers etc., we don't yet have the capabilities to make what we know is right, as easy to operate as SaaS.

> Suppose your company handles a fair bit of confidential information, and some of that information ends up in Notion as part of your general project management workflow.

Many folks that post to HN seem to miss this even though they are probably very technically capable. Many IT people in small/medium organizations don't have the time to consider this. Sometimes relationships with big organizations force this reality and threats get addressed, but it's not the norm. Most IT managers are under pressure to cut costs, reduce staff, modify accounting (review vs capital budgets), coexist with shadow IT, etc. Cloud solutions seem fantastic to them, and they don't have the energy to fight with someone in marketing who introduces a rogue solution because they don't understand how the current Wiki works.


> a rogue solution because they don't understand how the current Wiki works.

That's usually a sign of an IT department not listening to the needs of their end users.


I think that's pretty common, so I don't disagree entirely. It can also be the case that you have increasing numbers of tech-savvy folks who feel that they can build their own tech solutions, but aren't actually equipped to build/select something that is equipped to serve the needs of their team or the organization.

This can result in the team being left holding the baby when certain individuals leave, data loss, security issues etc. In 15+ years of enterprise probably two-thirds of the time I've seen this issues and it has been predictable that it would work out this way, but IT didn't help themselves by pretending their solution was better. When IT tries to learn and adopts the tool, or incorporates the needs then things work out better. But, that's only a third of the time.


The ideal model for me is third-party syncing with client side encryption. That is:

1) sell me apps (desktop, mobile),

2) let me sync the content via my choice of providers (dropbox, iCloud, google drive, my own WebDAV server, etc)

3) Let me manually enter a strong password/key in all of my clients to E2E the data, so I don't really need to trust that sync provider.


The two examples you cited are centered around building software. How many of their clients are building software? It's not 100%.


Well, then we should create open-source analog of notion. I actually was itching wondering what could I create in OSS realm. Probably will have a look at this task :)


That seems to be pretty hard. I just finished a long search for an Open Source one-page markdown editor (no split windows for preview and editing): the closest I could find was an editor called MarkText but even that doesn’t have half the functionality of Notion or Dropbox Paper. It’s hard to compete with fully funded and devoted teams.


I've been looking for something too. GetCanvas (now defunct but released as open source) was wonderful, but seems abandoned.

stackedit.io has been the closest that I could find.


Further down the page there's a mention of an OSS equivalent ("Outline"):

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18906118

Haven't tried it out personally (only support signing in from Slack/Google), but it might be your kind of thing. :)


Trilium is close - it's _more_ flexible, (arbitrary scripts/css) but less 'for free' out of the box.


Bitwarden offers self-hosting as one of their paid perks (Docker image and documentation included), in addition to a free tier. It may not be viable as the only business model, but I appreciate that they cater to the small number of people that will make use of it and I imagine the token of goodwill does something for the product as a whole.


Bitwarden is a niche application which handles very sensitive data. Value is created when it is hosted internally by a security sensitive organization.

When it comes to business and productivity applications the situation is very different. Many IT admins are tasked with moving to cloud (or other outsourced) solutions. When you see posts you have to realize you, or I, who value autonomy and control may not be the expected customer of these solutions.

To reduce the economics further:

* Startups like this have a product which may not have a complete market fit or reknown. They can't build something that's most likely to stick e.g. a required mail system because a couple of cloud products own the market. Therefore, they move up the productivity stack to team and document collaboration.

* Since they aren't a mature product and will likely change it considerably in the short-term, possibly "firing" customers as they search for a bigger market, they'll need their product to keep up. If they host it, then they can change it end-to-end.

* Any time you release a product that gets deployed on-prem it's virtually impossible to get people to update in a timely manner. Even if you decide to provide an on-prem version to a potentially huge customer, the enterprise sales cycle means that there is a risk your product will have changed before it gets deployed, but some person/process will prevent you get updated to the latest version as they advocate for a competitor.

* Worse, they like the old version and want to stay on it. How do you support these on-prem customers? They liked the value at your cloud pricing, but the cost to support on-prem customers can be much larger.


As of last May, you can apparently export all of your data:

https://mobile.twitter.com/notionhq/status/99643620080931635...

Just shipped: export your entire workspace with one-click.


Couldn't help it.

> For a Linux user, you can already build such a system yourself quite trivially by getting an FTP account, mounting it locally with curlftpfs, and then using SVN or CVS on the mounted filesystem. From Windows or Mac, this FTP account could be accessed through built-in software.


tbf I think the "I don't want to entrust all my notes to a startup that might not be here next year" issue is more relevant to the average person than "but surely you could roll your own if you were a desktop Linux user". On the other hand, I agree normal users don't want software to stick in docker containers, they want a nice friendly GUI that also happens to backup copies of their data somewhere they might be able to access them with another programme if the company ends their incredible journey.

One of the best things about Dropbox as an early adopter was knowning that if they died or got acquihired, you still had one or more local copies of everything you'd ever uploaded to them.


Notion allows you to export your notes. Also, you can say that about any service, even one run by Google.


Oh, I agree that even Google isn't immune to "sunsetting" useful products. But I'd still rate files on my Google Drive as being a lot more likely to be still usable in 5 years time than a service from someone with a few million dollars in Series A funding to get big or die trying.


They could sell a VPS with the app installed and only you would have access.


I miss the days when you could buy a piece of software -- like, physically buy a license that allows you to use it in perpetuity on your own terms. Then, if you want to pay for some hosted features, it makes sense to have a subscription. But the default cloud subscription dependency business plan immediately turns me off to any product. I've got too many damn subscriptions, and I can't take on any more.


I see the same problem with many products nowadays. There is a whole part of the economy following this and I wonder how so many users can cope with it.

Examples: - Adobe (PS, ID, AI,...) all cloud + subscription model since CS6 is gone - Music (Spotify & Co) - Movies/Series (Netflix, Amazon,...)

And there is many more not only focused on software products. That is why I pirate stuff first and then try to buy something that offers value to me (like vinyl from bands I like to hear) while supporting the real minds behind the work (I don't like companies just (ab)using their power for profit like amzn without delivering real value themselves).


With https://collect-app.com I'm indeed trying to build such a tool that is not requiring any service and giving you back 100% of privacy and data control, right now. But it is in a very early state yet. But I would love to get some feedback on the idea.


I'm developing an ipfs-based personal knowledge manager that works on similar principles.


I have been contemplating making a similar thing for years now. Nothing I have used really has gotten me all the way.

Is it going to be open source?


I haven't figured out. My current plan is to open source the layer that allows users to access their own raw data, to ensure portability.

Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to maintain the project if it doesn't bring in revenue.


I've been looking for a Personal Knowledge Manager for a while (and been thinking about creating one). Feel free to message me if you're considering open sourcing or releasing it.


I'll let you know when I make the initial public release.


If you don't mind, could you ping me as well? I'm looking for a similar solution


Definitely. I'm turning the last corners on the mvp, and very eager to put it in front of people.

I very much want to talk about it, but it feels a little meaningless to do so until I've shipped it :)


Looking forward to it!


For Diary/Journal use only: If you are mac/ios user i've created app which uses iCloud as backend, but you can export all entries to markdown.

https://pureformstudio.com/diarly

Think the reason for non-self-hosting is price really. One time purchase is.. well it's one time.


Looks nice! would jump on this if it supported Android :)


That sounds like a good feature - I think the app is trying to replace current jira etc functionality for now, is that something that Jira and other offer?


Jira has a self hosted version at very reasonable price ($10 one time for small teams with a single server up to $500k per year for high availability setups with >50k users).

The same is true for all other Atlassian products.

https://www.atlassian.com/software/jira/pricing?tab=self-man...


That $10 is a bait and switch price.

The next tier is 25 users for $2500. So it went from $1 per user to $100 per user.

JIRA is, by its nature, a multi-user software. The $10 for 10 users is clearly engineered to get small teams to commit to using it and then squeeze them when they grow.

That is a reasonable strategy for what is a product for companies i.e. enterprise software.

It wouldn't work for a product that is primarily for people who are paying from their own pocket, like, I assume, everyone here that expressed the want for a self-hosted version.


In a personal use case you more than likely stay below 10 users forever. If you are a company paying multiple employees 2500 should be easy to justify: that's 25 users at 10$/month for Jira Cloud would cost you 2500 in 10 months, with hosted Jira it's just a one time payment


jira offers task linking, which I don't think notion does.


Jira is a bug tracker.

Notion is a hierarchical note-taker/wiki with some additional features like simple databases, task lists etc.

They are not the same kind of software.

Also, you can link notion pages. They have a block element that is a link to another page and for inline links you can use the regular link (each notion page has its unique, stable url).


Notion does but it's not well implemented. If you copy a link to a notion document and paste it in another it does create a link. Wish they made it a little more well defined though (I don't want to copy a link and paste it).


That is like so not worth their time and energy


I'm a big Notion fan. Use it for everything in my life, both work and personal. Here's a screenshot of my Notion homepage: https://twitter.com/benln/status/1034475232445181952

I also made this site for people to share their Notion pages: http://notionpages.com You can use that to get a better sense of use cases for Notion.


I see that your site only includes screenshots of Notion pages. Have you considered asking people to share Markdown exports of their pages as well?


Some have templates. Hoping Notion releases clone feature soon. Didn't know you could export markdown, will look into that.


I love the product, but the login workflow is awful. Why innovate on logins? We've solved that problem.

Specifically, the login is a randomly-generated one-time code sent to your email address. Notion says this is more secure than them storing a username+password, but that's a dubious argument. They've also said this is two-factor auth (lolno). A side effect of this is that Notion is unusable on my mobile device since I have no email on it.

I really hope they implement a more traditional login system. Until then, I'm sticking with Evernote. :(


They imply that the login is 2FA-protected because your email or Google account can be 2FA-protected, and they're piggybacking off that...

Having passwords means storing them correctly and still implementing some form of reset -- and if email is a weak point, they would have to 2FA prompt you to reset your password, or not use magic links, or handle such issues out-of-band. They're probably trying to avoid auth/password support by outsourcing this function to Google for the time being.

I agree though, the user experience that is hardest-hit by this is mobile, where iOS now supports much better integration with password managers than was allowed previously...


Thanks for telling me this. I will definitely avoid Notion now. I want a username/password combo at the very least, both different for every site I use, and preferably with TOTP as well. I never want my email to be used for security purposes as it is among the most hackable target out there.


That very strange. If you don't have 2FA then you can just reset your password via hacked email.


Yeah dude someone might go through the trouble of hacking your email just so they can find your todo page with an unchecked checkbox for feeding your goldfish.


You have no idea what they want to put in their Notion account. And so what if they want to have high security for something you deem trivial? You gain nothing by being an asshole about it.


Ugh you reminded me why I never went all-in with Notion. Having to remember what email I signed up with every time I need to log in is super annoying (as it doesn't seem to trigger my browser's autofill dialogue).


Yeah, Medium does this same thing and it makes me hate logging in so I'm rarely in the account I pay for. Especially since Medium makes you log in seemingly every few days.


> A side effect of this is that Notion is unusable on my mobile device since I have no email on it.

It’s unusable for me as well, but for a similar reason on the computer. When I’m on a computer, the last thing I want is to be forced to login to email for a code since I use web based email (which I don’t keep open all the time). Even if I were to use a desktop client, I wouldn’t have it kept open all the time.

These are “chores” added to the user experience.


They also have a OAUTH login with google, which is the one I use.

But on the merits: not storing the password is safer than storing it so it's a valid claim.

And it is a 2fa mechanism to a tee (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-factor_authentication)


Agreed. The login scenario has me highly dubious about going all-in with Notion.


I actually love their login, but it's not for the reason you would think. They expire the session very frequently which has been an annoyance for me, so log-in with the magic link has been faster than digging for the password through my manager.


Digging? Doesn't your browser autofill it for you?


Slack tries to do this too. You have to click a few buttons to get the app to let you type in your username and password.


If you like Notion but are looking for something open source, similarly polished and more wiki-focused then this will be up your street - http://getoutline.com

We've been building it for 2 years, happy to answer questions.


Looks great, except I cannot use it because, I don't have a google company account nor a slack account. It seems that self-hosting solution requires those accounts too.


I previously tried to sign up via a Google account but it required a 'company Google account' - I was slightly confused about the reasoning behind this.


It's designed for teams, Google auth is used to avoid having to manage invites etc. If you could sign in with any old Google account then it would introduce a class of problems with having to manage invites / user management / accidental duplicate teams.

Having said that, I do think it would be cool if signing in with your personal gmail account gave you a personal non-team wiki.


I've been looking for something similar for a while now, and I love the fact that it can be self-hosted. Is there any way to easily disable the Google / Slack auth integration in favour of something local, for small self-hosted installs? I'm trying to reduce external dependencies (and specifically dependencies on Google).


Is there a way to sign up without Slack or G+?


Nope, fraid not. Is there another service your team uses for identity when signing up for tools?


The service itself? SAML (e.g. Active Directory)?


I don't have a team. I was just curious.


LDAP?


Looks very nice!

On the integration side of things I'd wish for GitLab and other chats (don't like slack).

I'm afraid it's not easy to test your app without Slack/G+ Account and would be grateful if the project could "open to the free software world" a little more.

Thank you either way for sharing and keep up the good work!


Looks awesome! Any plans for mobile apps?


Not just yet, but we'll get there. Also there is a full, documented, API so perhaps a community member will start something first


Looks great, would be nice to have syntax highlight support for more languages and maybe MathJax support.


Definitely, with the syntax support it's just a matter of balancing bundle size – need to figure out a way to dynamically load the language syntax and then we can add all of the languages


For me, Notion replaced Evernote and I haven't looked back. Three features that have been particularly useful for personal productivity are

1) explicit support for Kanban board-ing tasks and similar to-do management

2) collapsible blocks

3) substantially smoother linking to, or embedding, notes within notes

Notion is just as sleek as Evernote for small independent notes, but these two features allow Notion to scale much better for projects that require an inter-related network of notes with substantial breadth and depth.


Evernote's killer feature for me is the automatic OCR on images, included in the search. Any way to rig that in Notion?


Not that I know of, and probably an area that Notion won't catch up in for a long time, if ever.


Is there any sort of IFTTT integration? There's gotta be some way to rig this up.


I hard-swapped to Notion from Evernote about a ~month ago. The Markdown support is excellent, and I really like:

- The "database" type that give a table view over child pages has been great for organizing recipes. I can quickly filter by {protein, core ingredients, cooking time, etc}

- The same again for blog posts

- Free-form writing for talks & other notes

- Shared to-do lists, which I used for organizing an apartment move w/ my partner

- Search works great - across titles, labels and document content - with a quick Ctrl+P.

- The web-app is fantastic. The Electron app on Windows is solid, although sometimes takes a while to sync after being minimized for a while.

Being able to export everything into a reasonable format was a requirement for me, and they've had that for a while. I'm OK with having "some" element of lock-in for the convenience, provided I can get my data out in a structured format. There's _always_ a risk something might be deprecated or shutdown.


How good is the offline support?

Edit: After testing, seems not too bad. Reconciles non-conflicting edits just fine. But apparently, in the iOS app, search doesn't work in offline mode!

Edit 2: It seems like "attachments" (files like PDFs, and also images) are not stored offline, either. In the iOS app, clicking on a file or image brings up an S3 URL inside an embedded web browser.


Akshay from Notion here. Better offline support is included in the next release. Coming very soon!


Thanks. Will it include offline attachments?


How's the search ? evernote's search sucks. Is this significantly better?


I use search way less in Notion than Evernote due to the ability to hierarchically organize notes in a manner that better matches my mental map, to the point where it's hard for me to comment on the quality of search in Notion. I haven't had any complaints with it during the occasional times I have used search though.


Some good alternatives

- Quip (https://quip.com)

- Airtable (https://airtable.com)

- Taskade (https://taskade.com)



- Coda (https://coda.io/)


Notion is now becoming a lot more like coda. I love how Coda exposes tabular data in a programmable way (but programmable as in easier than spreadsheets). It also even has API access: https://coda.io/developers/apis/v1beta1


Chrome-only.


Those are different products.

Notion is primarily hierarchical note taker/wiki.

The closest product is Quip but Quip is like Google docs - each page is its own thing. It's not hierarchical.

Airtable is a database. Notion has similar functionality, but not as rich and their tables can be just part of the page, like a picture.

Taskade is a task tracker. I use Notion for a similar purpose but it's not the primary functionality of Notion.


Nuclino is also a very strong offering in this space.


Here is a deep comparison of Notion, Coda, Airtable and Zenkit

The Next Wave of Work Management Software https://hackernoon.com/the-next-wave-of-work-management-soft...


Airtable was really bad for me compared to Notion. The rich text support is the primary but not only problem. I can't speak to the others, but Airtable is a really bad alternative.


- Dropbox Paper


- Zenkit (https://zenkit.com)


- cicles (https://circles.app)


- Lanes (https://lanes.io)


This isn't self-hosted? I'm interested in a self-hosted solution that uses local markdown files and directories to manage content.


Same, I tinkered around a bit and so far really like the semi-free form nature of how this looks and feels, plus the dirt simple, out of your way/distraction free interface is something that could easily line up with how I scribble down notes in my pocket journal, but am averse to signing up to another account somewhere for my obsessive checklisting and note-taking.

I'd gladly pay for a desktop application of this where I kept all of my notes and todos with local persistence that I could backup, migrate and move (similar to something like Notational Velocity), I like this, but I guess so far OneNote remains my personal champ in this regard-even though I have to tie it to OneDrive across my pc and surface.

Edit:

Although feverishly refreshing the thread and looking at all the praise...maybe I'll give it a more thorough shot for a couple of weeks.


This is one thing I've wanted. A local app that lets me store all my data with markdown syntax, syntax highlighting, in local files and directories, specifically for macOS although a cross platform app would be fine. One that doesn't require an account or the internet at all for it to work. I've wanted this kind of app for many years (and wouldn't be opposed to making it if no existing solution is all that great at it).


Emacs with org mode, helm, and projectile as a starting point would hit all of your asks (although org syntax has differences from markdown, it's still quite intuitive).

I use org mode for: my tasks (gtd style), food log (using org columns), notes (easy export to any other format), habits. Alongside beorg for iOS for quick capturing on the go, I cannot imagine I would be any happier elsewhere.


Same here, org-mode is going nowhere, it's one of those things that just works. From wikis, todos, document authoring, agendas, code notebook, ... On mobile, there's a few options, I made one, a web app called filestash: https://demo.filestash.app/s/hn . It has a lot of the org mode candies: agenda, todos, and the real org-mode exporters: HTML, PDF, Markdown, TXT, Latex, iCal, ODT and even beamer


And literate programming too with Babel!


Org-mode, Helm, and Projectile as a "starting point," is pretty steep. Org alone probably covers the bases.


I’ve been using Quiver for a few years, and love it. Totally replaced Evernote for me. Not sure if they have syntax highlighting though — there is a “code” cell, but I haven’t used it.

http://happenapps.com


I also use Quiver, I just wish I could have my notes on my Android phone. No one has yet brought together quite everything -- there's always tradeoffs between the various note apps, even though there doesn't have to be.


Perhaps Boostnote? https://boostnote.io/

Been using it for a work journal for a while, and it's pretty reasonable. I used to use RedNotebook before that, but I finally got fed up with the lack of Markdown syntax.


Bootsnote and Joplin works great for notes, but Joplin was less than ideal last time I checked. Hugo is really the tool I think will get me closest to what I'm looking for.


Could you expand on why it's less than ideal? I'm considering moving, so far it looks good.


Because the way it backs up your files isn't symbolic with the file system. The Hugo template I'm working on does this for you. Their are some minor annoyances, but it is the most powerful tool that I know of to get setup quickly. Wish there was some more standardization around Templates though, and the ability to do custom output templates for section lists that create paginated sections of content based on grouping, custom parameters and more. Best thing is it is all managed in a logical folder (section) and file (page) hierarchy and so far I've just about got a infinitely nested template setup with paginated sections and pages throughout, with the ability to add custom paginated sections using specific layouts for custom sections.

It's a bit less than ideal, overall. I would like to see you be able to assign a custom output format, so for each index and section kinds it would be nice to automatically create paginated sections that you want for specific layouts. I've tried this and it only sort of works, but expects them to be the pages as your lists.html or index.html, and can't paginate a path.

Also, built in client-side search. I'm working on Mermaid.js, Chart.js and Reveal.js short-code integration next.


zim? http://zim-wiki.org/ with the "source view" plugin?


It sounds like a private git repo would suite you fine. You'll only need an internet connection to update when you've made changes on a different device.


The interface is that of a notes app rather than a board like Notion, but I just started using Joplin for this and have been really liking it so far.


I use Quiver for this purpose. http://happenapps.com/


Seconded that org-mode sounds like a good place to start.


I'm pretty happy with Gollum (https://github.com/gollum/gollum/wiki) for this. Your data is just a Git repository containing a hierarchy of files. You run Gollum to fire up a local web server, which gives you a wiki interface to view and edit any Markdown files in the hierarchy. You can use a local Markdown editor if you prefer, as long as you commit your changes. You can choose whether to run Gollum all the time and expose the server to others, or just launch it locally when you want to browse your own repository. And you can use Git to create, push and pull branches.

Gollum also seems to have powerful customisation features like macros and YAML front matter, but I have yet to make use of them. For now, Gollum suits me as a simple, free alternative to Confluence. Notion is obviously a far more powerful product.



(disclaimer: I'm building something similar)

Why is it every time something like Notion is mentioned, there is always someone who wants "local, self-hosted, Markdown"? Just build it yourself.

This clearly shows you have no understanding of the product at hand. Notion is so incredibly powerful that Markdown doesn't even scratch the surface here.


I'd prefer a local or self-hosted product because when the innevitable "incredible journey" blog post comes out, I don't want to have to try and migrate everything to a new service. If I've paid for a product, I can at least keep using it as-is when the company goes under.


The problem is that economic reality doesn't allow for the market to clear for such product.

In other words: you're not willing to pay enough for such a feature to make anyone capable of building it make it for you.

There just aren't enough people like you to support self-hosted $4/month product and you're not willing to spend $2000/month for self-hosted version.

So your options are not using the product at all or using hosted, incredibly cheap, version.


At least in Notion's case, it's a proper enterprise SaaS product with a trial tier, rather than a free consumer product attempting to go enterprise.


Proper enterprise products are hosted on-prem. This is exactly why atlassian is pretty much the only contender in a lot of cases.


I don't know if I agree with that distinction, but an on-prem version would be nice.


Many people care about things such as "what is this company doing with the data I store with them?"

And many people don't have the time or skill to "just build it yourself," so when something awesome like this comes along that looks really appealing, you get people asking for self-hosted options.


Friends don't let friends use web apps. Aside from privacy concerns, relying on someone else's server functioning and being forced to use whatever the newest "improved" version are all strikes against em. Who needs another login collected by someone else (so trustworthy) that you fill with credentials that will be stolen in a hack revealed a few years down the line? There's never any real consequences for service providers. It's best not to use new web services for anything important.


Notion doesn't store password.

You can either log-in with Google account (which you most likely already have) or via 2fa mechanism where they send an expiring login link to your e-mail address.

There are no password and therefore nothing to hack.


Well... there's the data you've stored, if you're trying to keep it private. But, yes, it does invalidate the original point. :)


Having no password doesn't mean it can't be hacked. Maybe Notion won't end up in a haveibeenpwned email, but that only addresses half of a single one out of three of my objections to web applications.


> Why is it every time something like Notion is mentioned, there is always someone who wants "local, self-hosted, Markdown"? Just build it yourself.

Why not? Is there something wrong with wanting a local, self-hosted tool? Or wanting to pay for it instead of building it yourself?


Maybe GP meant it as a call to arms? We're all here asking each other for something, but apparently none of us are building it.


Maybe what he meant is that he wants all of the contents and databases to reside on his machine unless an item is explicitly shared with someone else.

For some people like me that's a basic condition to even consider a tool.


Exactly... I've started building something using Hugo that does all this. That way you can create a calendar section, and then use front-matter to define the calendar entries in that section. It even creates an ICS for each item and a calendar for the entire section.


Hugo? As in the static site generator Hugo? That sounds very interesting, I've been using Hugo at work for an internal-only facing developer 'blog'.

Do you publish the progress of this project you're working on for interested persons to keep track or should we wait until you're ready to unveil it?


I've got the theme and here:

https://gitlab.com/equalos/equal

I've been trying to get it into a nice state, but it is a process.


Markdown and front-matter does scratch the surface, and I do have an understanding of the product. It just isn't what I'm looking for. I care about my data and having it accessible, even outside of the application. I like organizing my content using directories for sections, and files for pages. I don't want everything saved to the cloud using a database. I want to use local files and front-matter to create content, and Hugo does this... I've started building what I'm looking for already.


Markdown is a fileformat, while Notion is an interface which can utilize this fileformat. I don't see anything in notion which I could not fit in that fileformat and some folder-structure.

The problem is that making a good interface is a though and long task. It's not done with crapping something together which then barfs out some file. That's people just can't build it themself, because it would be months and years to reach a good quality.

The demand for local&selfhosted on the other side is clear: people don't trust the companies. Companies peek into your data, sell them to other, or just disappear one day. With something under your control this will not happen.


You're pointing out that there seems to be this unmet demand for a self-hosted markdown based product. Rather than wonder why people keep asking for that, maybe you should include those features in whatever it is that you are building.


Maybe the demand is from the worst kind of users a business would want, those that would never convert to actual customers but want something for to tinker and install for free...


those that would never convert to actual customers but want something for to tinker and install for free...

There also might be a valid demand from those who would want to use the features of a collaboration suite like this for internal projects but find themselves beholden to internal or even client-demanded security/data retention policies.


Authentication can be implemented via a proxy, it can build very complex and encrypted data-types with pretty little automation.


Who said anything about free? I pay for all kinds of software that I install locally.


But they're trying to run a business, so why ask the question as if it's surprising?


It's surprising that I (for personal use) and my company (commercial use) would be willing to pay good money for the ability to run this app on-prem?

Personal data notwithstanding we have data we put in our company wiki that is simply not allowed to be hosted on cloud services without lots of red tape and compliance certifications. Offering a on-prem option, at least for us, pushes all that responsibility onto our ops team, and Notion gets paid about the same but without the hosting costs.


The problem is that what you consider "good money" is probably not even close to making such a product a viable business.

Their personal plan is $4/month.

Maybe one in a few hundred people (let's say 500 for easy math) would want self-hosted version.

Are you willing to pay $2000/month for a note-taking application? I doubt it.

Not to mention the support burden of trying to figure out why something doesn't work on your self-hosted installation.

That economic reality is why on-prem, self-hosted software is almost exclusively a very expensive, enterprise software.

Companies can justify paying a few thousand a year for installation and a salary of an in-house employee to manage and maintain it.

Individuals can't.


But that’s fine. My company can easily afford a few tens of thousands per month for the on-prem version.

If the on-prem version does not exist, I’ll never even try to convince them to switch, since we aren’t going to store anything sensitive on someone elses infrastructure.

So we stick with Confluence. Which everyone hates, but is still the best solution around.


I'm not sure I understand your math. The support burden is very real but why would the pricing be anything other than $premium/user/month with tiers based on support requirements?

Self-hosting nerds like myself would be able to get by on a no-support 'community edition' for like $10-15/mo.


Why would running a business prevent them from offering a self-hosted solution? Look at Confluence, if you need examples.


Or MS Office :-B


Or every software product before about 2005.


Business is not synonymous with 'subscription model.' It's good for people to express their desire for on-prem, one-time payment products. Maybe the market can find a middle rather than the utter domination of subscription services.


what about a self-hosted gitlab instance? I can see it would fall short on a few elements but it has a great API that can be integrated with.


Check out Fossil-scm.org which supports Markdown, Fossil's variant of Markdown and plain text.

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