My requirements: multi-platform, multi-device, auto-sync (more than 2 devices in free ver.), tags, webclip-ability, preferably markdown format with code rendering. Text diagramming such as PlantUML is a big plus. The idea of owning my notes is very appealing.
My early attempts at synchronizing encrypted notes over OneDrive experienced repeated hiccups (stopped syncing for no apparent reason), so currently trying without encryption. Win10 and Android clients seem to chug along just fine, but the Linux client shows weird errors in the log - trying to hunt down the root cause.
The fact that Joplin is WIP and open source is encouraging. I'd like to be able to have separate DBs, e.g. for personal and business use.
ADDED: forgot to mention that the lack of dark mode on Windows EN client was a constant source of irritation.
Some cons I felt while using Notion:
- Mandatory to log in using a Google account is a _very_ big pushback for me - I need it to work all the time offline.
- E2EE encryption? I don't think it's there. It's something I strongly desire for privacy reason.
- It's a freemium subscription modal, I have nothing against it, but imho, completely free one is of course better
- It's not open sourced, but Joplin is.
Note that it is paid, the company has a longevity statement around that.
I just wish they had an API that I could use.
The nice thing is it uses 17mb ram so I can leave it running all the time which is a helpful thing since all the other electron apps keep my laptop at 18gb memory usage
1. You can't restrict search to just one folder.
2. You can't use tags (would be better than folders) and search by them. I have a partial work around (I just type #tag and search for that) but it does't work that well -- the search correctly filters for "#foo" but shows "foo" highlighted in the sidebar...and doesn't scroll to the match.
A small amount of additional functionality would pretty much nuke any need for Evernote or any of these other apps (though exporting is...tedious).
My app is intended for multi tasking individuals.
@iamdchuk is my twitter handle if you want to connect and check it out soon. I plan to start using the app this week for work myself.
I've now moved to Bear, and the experience is much better. Yes, it stores notes in a DB, not as files. But it is a standard, open SQL DB you can talk to if needed. Bear renders markdown nicely, has nice themes. And syncs between devices quick. I now read and write journal notes etc on desktop, iPad and mobile. And Bear supports inline images. This, together with nice rendering of quotes, code etc makes making complex notes possible. If I only could change the caret to a non-blinking, block everything would be great. Notes in Bear really are beutiful and pleasant to write and read.
Probably the only thing that’s so-so is search but worst case I have to check a couple of notes to find the right one.
If I need to share a note, I use a github gist but it's also just a linear text storage so I'll prolly replace it with something else at some point...
- info on where the note came from (that's why I like web-clip-ability)
- note history and possibly versions
- tags are really great for categorizing and quick/efficient search, etc.
It's had this bug for several years across a number of versions. I now have a huge buffer of sacrificial text at the bottom of any important note, which I then split if part of that buffer goes missing.
Ironically, this README loads more than a hundred images but I can’t even find a desktop screenshot.
The backup/sync system is great. Fully encrypted and numerous cloud configuration options. I use it with Fastmail’s $5/mo. service and it’s very easy to setup.
The iOS app could use some more improvements but far better than not having one at all.
Overall Joplin is highly recommended because of it’s compatibility, flexibility, privacy, and no-frills functionality.
So at some point I figured she could use my old ipad mini 1 with a size-fitted logitech "ultrathin keyboard" (that magnetically holds onto the ipad, making it one piece for storage) that I impulse bought and never used.
So hardware was there, but looking for a markdown editor that supported sync and that old device + her windows laptop was not fruitful. Except well, short story: joplin is awesome for that.
She could use the ipad to write a few minutes here and there during transit and was able to complete it.
The markdown file is then converted to latex/pdf using pandoc + pandoc-citeproc (for citations using a bibtex-file).
Support for antiquated iOS versions is rare (making the ipad mini 1 useless in many cases although it still appears to be a capable device) even though many apps don't seem to have a need for higher versions. I suspect that most apps use frameworks that have a version cutoff to reduce complexity if that even makes sense.
I do wish it would clean up the weird note/todo item duality (at least in the options). You can treat a note as a todo item, so the list of notes acts as your list of todos. Or you can just use a note and put the todo items in it (which is what I do). I just don't think the folder interface works well for the todo item paradigm.
Anyways, highly recommended if you're still spending money on Evernote and don't use any advanced features. If you're using web clips or other stuff, someone else will have to chime in.
I've always felt that text+shortcut first approach beats all of the prettiest heavy categorized approaches.
This sort of thing is best in a disposable fast changing format. Life is too chaotic and motivation varies where heavily organized and category driven systems often fail long term without vigilance.
Which is why simple txt/markdown (combined with some text editor integration like vim-tasks to add things like lists of todo items which can be marked as finished + archived on demand) files remain the ideal solutions..
One huge selling point for Dynalist, and why I don't mind paying for it, is the data portability is perfect.
Will try it anyway.
I like Standard Notes' no-nonsense business model, with the downside that the free version is heavily feature-crippled (not even a Markdown editor, just plain text).
The Standard Notes server is self-hostable, but it requires a dedicated backend server  which was more hassle than I wanted to deal with. Joplin integrates much more nicely with Syncthing for self-hosted but still peer-to-peer replication.
Will see if I can contribute to this project.
Only thing I really miss is the ability to have completely separate instances. While it's theoretically possible to script different configs, they can't be used simultaneously.
Syncing works well both through Syncthing and Google Drivw. Haven't tried syncing through OneDrive, and IIRC the docs had some warning about it.
For some reason I like those old long readme.txt files from the 1990s. The ones formatted with max 80-120 characters wide per line, black background, etc.
I haven't tried this one yet. But the biggest problem with that approach is the links typically don't work, nor will citations render properly for Wikipedia. So maybe it's preferable using Lynx or w/e just for long-term reading or articles on news sites with disaster web design.
Joplin does the simple things I want, well. They are also adding features pretty quickly, but I'm happy with it the way it is.
It has all the best features, including client side encryption, while still enabling collaboration.
The major issue I have is it doesn't support stylus based notes like Onenote. A partial solution would be to extend Joplin to support additional file types so I can keep all my notes together when they are different types. For now, I keep my written notes separate.
If stylus support isn't a requirement for you, I strongly recommend Joplin. I've tried a number of closed and open source note taking tools - Joplin hits the sweet spot for me. For a long time I used Jupyter for taking notes with custom scripts for Search. It's been pretty good however it had two major shortcomings: no android client and the Jupyter client had poor conflict detection when using a a file based sync tool like Syncthing.
Update: This thread prompted me to re-check the options on Android and I found Markor . Much more polished and I was able to point it to the notes folder. Now I have the option of using it or WriterPlus (though seems to me that Markor's option of opening notes in preview mode by default + more customization options makes it better than WriterPlus).
Is there anything like that?
How hard would it be to extend joplin to write a service driver to sync via Git(-hub / -lab / your own server)?
After trying out multiple note taking apps this is what I settled on. You can use it as simple as a note taking app or configure it to do lots of complicated things like managing your to-dos, appointments, agendas. And my favorite feature is inline code-block that I can execute.
I spent years in the same position we've all been in, searching and hoping for the perfect note taking app to boost my productivity, have a "second brain", write down my fleeting inspirations, etc. etc.
After finding Emacs last year, I feel like I've been under a spell my whole professional life that's been broken. I'm a little embarrassed of the time I've spent griping and pining for the perfect note app. It took me far less time to learn Emacs than it did to try out the 20+ todo and notebook apps on the market.
To all who are still on the hunt: there is no perfect app, and we're all kidding ourselves. You're looking for someone to give you a fish. This is just text we're talking about, it's easy enough to learn to wield it, manipulate it, and organize it, and soon you become the man who has been taught to fish on his own. Plus, when you have the epiphany of how much more quickly you can manipulate text with the control of Emacs and/or Vim, you'll wonder how you spent so much of your life in typing in software without these capabilities.
Learning Emacs has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my computing journey, I highly recommend checking out a well-configured distribution like Spacemacs.
I'm using clients for Mac, Android and linux (manjaro) and all work well. There are also clients for the other major platforms.
One of the things I really like about it is I can do a screenshot on both Mac & linux, saving to the clipboard rather than a file, and paste it directly into an editor and inkdrop handles everything, including creating a file and corresponding markup. And that all syncs too.
Basically, you have your notes in a git repo, and this app keeps committing the changes to your remote repo.
If you feel adventurous, you can try it here: https://github.com/tanin47/git-notes (still in early alpha)
This might not be an ideal solution, but if you find an editor you really like, its an easy way to add git and backup to your notes.
This is the feature that has me locked in to Evernote and no one else seems to have. I'll be watching this repo and jump over as soon as it becomes supported.
(Not a dupe, link posted for info purposes.)
I use iOS.
I have been looking for a note taking app that will directly save my notes to my Google Drive as soon as I take it.
For past 4 years I have been using the default Apple Notes. Back then, I noticed I can configure Notes to be synced with my Google account, and a new label called Notes is created in Gmail. But what I missed is that a separate Google account folder is created Notes and I need to save all my notes there in order for it to be uploaded to my Gmail in real time, and this I noticed only last week. So, for the past 4 years, I have been saving all my notes on my iPhone, in the default folder. And now there’s no other way except to manually upload all notes , one by one, which I have collected over the past 4 years, which goes in thousands, to Gmail.
Last week I downloaded Google Keep. There’s one big difference I noted between Apple Notes and Google Keep. In Apple Notes, the Notes which you have recently created / edited / modified / updated, automatically comes to the top, whereas that’s not the case with Google Keep. I love this feature of Apple Notes so much that I decided to stick to Apple Notes despite the disappointment I faced earlier of missing out on the separate Google folder in Apple Notes
Does anyone know of a way to upload all of my Apple Notes, which I have accumulated over the past 4 years, to Gmail directly in one go? Any workflows available to make this happen?
Any suggestion from anyone would be reciprocated with disproportionate gratitude _/\_
PS - I am looking for a free software.
this should probably be reconsidered, or least made clear to everyone.
I'm definitely going to try this and I truly hope it is good enough for me.
A take away from this scenario might be that this design space is wanting for a meta-editor. Some tool which allows feature creation in the same context as these markdown/note tools. An analogy might be that this meta-editor is to digital note keeping as racket is to programming languages.
Of course all the obvious requirements apply. Has to be usable out of the box, has to just work, has successfully convey it's ability to be changed to the end user.
I think emacs is such a solution, there are no features in the list of hn posts under the search "markdown" that it doesn't have. But emacs is missing all the requirements. It is not usable out of the box.
I think this meta editor could best be built on top of emacs, but this will require a lot of work. I have been playing around with this idea for a couple of years now and it's slow going but fun to think about.
iA Writer: Write something eloquent
Still searching for a markdown editor that runs on both iOS & Linux and does auto save & auto sync.
You don’t even need the same editor. You can use one on Linux, one on iOS and another on Windows.
In the discussion above saw many good suggestions, none that fitted the requirements.
For notes I use Bear. Which is, IMO, the best UX for note taking on iOS. But. It doesn’t have a web GUI or a Linux app. So. I can’t really keep using it.
I’ve tried them all. Joplin, SimpleNote, Evernote, Turtl, Laverna, you name it. But none of them have both Linux Apps and a great iOS app/experience. (80% of my notes is done from iOS).
One day I’ll have to go out to write something myself.
I resonate with that. I need to be able to add attachments to my notes - ideally with OCR capabilities. Evernote does that, but I've had a hard time finding something else for the Linux desktop.
It's 2019 (almost 2020) and a cross-platform note taking application that does notes + attachments + OCR it's still not available (I am not referring to "workarounds" or "tweaks", attachments as links, etc). If anyone knows one I would love to hear about it.
I am currently using a web app that I have built myself, it does notes and attachments but I am still working on implementing OCR via Tesseract (form images and PDF attachments).
@surfsvammel, if you decide to go that way and start building something, give me a shout - email in my profile.
* _Sync_ should not be solved by the note app (applications that implement sync themselves are usually buggy, I prefer to outsource sync to nextcloud / dropbox / ...)
* I want the same _editing capabilities_ as usual (block edit etc., note apps are usually less power full editors)
* A _tree organization_ is important to me, which is trivially solved using editors and the file system
* There are _Markdown_ packages for pretty much every editor.
Note taking apps tend to ship these features but are not as mature as editors are.
Especially noticable on Android where Google is obviously omnipresent
Android: no auto-save. type something, close it, lose everything.
Scrolling is a pain. Need to reach the end very fast? Forget it.
Nirvana hq and David Allen GTD are great for being organized and feeling in charge of all your tasks
I don't use vim, so it's just a matter of curiosity for me - but it's always interesting to hear what kinds of tools other developers like to use.
I've made a comparison table  comparing Joplin and other popular note-taking apps, you may find it useful.
Joplin could have been my go-to note-taking app, but IMO they made a few bad design decisions and there are few things I really don't like about it, maybe listing some of them from my point of view could be useful either to Joplin's maintainers or potential users:
- Notebooks are indefinitely nestable but tags are not, why?
- Joplin's icon is SO out of proportions, it looks way out of place in my dock, it may sound silly but I might not have used it just because of this alone.
- There's a button for opening the current note via a third-party editor, this is quite powerful because it means you can use all the fancy plugins and capabilities your general purpose text editor has, but why are all metadata about a particular note stored who-knows-where rather than putting them in the note itself as YAML front matter so I could have edited them directly too?
- Attachments are stored on disk as plain files, that's great because now you can find them and edit them without going through Joplin if necessary, but those files are named with unique ids so actually finding the files you're looking for will be a problem.
- And why not storing all notes on disk directly too, so that you could have done fancy things like running a global search and replace on them, run git on them...? Storing them in a database is generally better for performance, but you can do both.
- Notes have a separate title field, why wouldn't I want to write my titles in an H1 heading in the Markdown content directly instead? The default notes look a bit silly because of this, coming effectively with 2 identical titles.
- The UI looks pretty ugly, there are too many buttons, the interface isn't properly responsive (at some widths the toolbar gets cropped, labels spawn multiple lines etc.), useless things like the "Watching..." label are displayed etc.
- The database location is not customizable, if it were you would have the ability to store multiple notes collections separately, and you could achieve synchronization for free just by putting your database inside Dropbox for instance.
- Some shortcuts are weird and/or missing, for example there's a shortcut for cycling between previewing, editing, and the split editor. That might be useful sometimes, but don't people just want to toggle between editing and previewing or between previewing and the split-editor most of the times? There should be shortcuts for doing that instead.
Your "comparison" is just a long list of what you think if bad about Joplin, as if there could not be a single good thing about it - there's nothing neutral or fair about any of it. You're just denigrating competition and advertising your own stuff.
I guess it's to be expected from someone whose tagline is "the app that doesn't suck", yet heavily copying features from all these other apps, which presumably, suck.
I think I may have something interesting to say given that I'm writing one of these apps myself, and mentioning for example that in Joplin tags aren't indefinitely nestable but notebooks are is not like I'm making stuff up, if I weren't writing one of those note-taking apps that wouldn't really change that fact.
> Just be honest that you want to advertise your (commercial) product.
Partially my comment was prompted by the opportunity to target new potential users, i.e. people reading this thread are people interested in Joplin, which is an app very similar to mine.
Partially I want to share what I think about Joplin from my perspective.
> Your "comparison" is just a long list of what you think if bad about Joplin
Well, I started my sentence with: "Joplin could have been my go-to note-taking app", meaning there's a lot about it I like, mentioning that I like that it supports Markdown is not an interesting point to make I think, plus I'm actually praising some things, like the ability to edit a note in a third-party editor, is mentioning an ever more powerful way to implement this (i.e. notes stores as plain files on disk with metadata in the front matter) not interesting?
And not all the things I don't like about Joplin are even solved in Notable, some are though, obviously, or Joplin would have been my note-taking app too.
> as if there could not be a single good thing about it
As I said that sentence started with "Joplin could have been my go-to note-taking app", which I think implicitly says a lot of good things.
> there's nothing neutral or fair about any of it.
Ok, what's not fair or neutral about stating the fact that tags aren't indefinitely nestable?
Or maybe your point is that since I'm working for a competitor app I can't talk about this?
> You're just denigrating competition and advertising your own stuff.
I don't think that's fair to say, obviously I wouldn't have made my own note-taking app if I thought Joplin didn't have any important shortcomings.
Would my comment have been fairer if I didn't mention I'm developing Notable? I mean I'm a person who tried Joplin and there were some things I didn't like, how am I supposed to be talking about these things then? How would you have phrased my comment?
> I guess it's to be expected from someone whose tagline is "the app that doesn't suck", yet heavily copying features from all these other apps, which presumably, suck.
If the very first calculator did only additions it would have sucked, if any later calculators _also_ did additions that doesn't imply that they must suck as well.
Plus that's kind of a cheeky tagline that's meant to say the following: I tried other note-taking apps, I couldn't find one that I really liked, so in this sense they sucked for me.
Like if you absolutely need a web-clipper I guess Notable would suck and Joplin would not suck _for you_.
I don't think it would have been right to make specifically a comparison between Joplin and Notable in a thread about Joplin, in fact my app also has some of the issues I'm mentioning, not all of them of course or I would be a Joplin user now, what does it matter what my app does to the points I'm making? I'm talking about Joplin as a person who tired it.
The link to my app is kinda there for people who might be interested in that, which is also one of the reasons I made the post in the first place, but I would have written something regardless if I'd be passionate about these note-taking apps without writing one myself.
Would my post have seemed fairer if I didn't mention I'm working in Notable? Or like am I disallowed to talk about other note-taking apps now that I'm developing one and I know something about them? Like, given that I develop Notable and there a few things I don't like about Joplin which didn't allow me to become a Joplin user, how do you think I should have phrased my post?