What some are missing is the fact that low barriers to entry sometimes turn into barriers to growth at a later stage. After (!) one has sunk thousands of hours into them. I used to keep my academic notes in Evernote and it turned into hell after about 2,000 notes and a few years of work. I couldn't find things when I needed them, it didn't support a non-linear mode of work. It became my personal black hole that swallowed up information but never gave it back.
With org-mode I have created my very own filing and research system. After years of using it and thousands of articles I find things. Quickly. Now, with org-roam, I create hubs of knowledge and ideas that I can come back to at a later point without worrying about linearity or chronology. No longer do I need to know where things are. I know what ideas are in there. If I don't like a certain workflow, I can grow, develop or change my filing and note-taking system as I see fit.
In my opinion, org-mode eliminates the risk of hitting any sort of barrier after years of sunk costs.
Emacs will be here for us in the next decades, even well after our career ends, and then some.
Org is like Common Lisp in many ways. It offers you lots of paradigms to build your own workflows, but you don't need to use or understand them initially.
An it might suffer from the same PR problem Emacs has. Manuals, tutorials and guides throw all features at once without focussing on core concepts first. And it's overwhelming for newcomers.
Perhaps some articles and the book in https://www.masteringemacs.org/.
At some point, I would like to write an introduction to Emacs, Org, Notmuch and friends. Their docs are great if you have been using Emacs for a long time. But if you are a newcomer, the learning curve is really steep. And it shouldn't be like that. At their core all these are conceptually simple, easy to understand, and to hack.
Emacs and friends are IMHO really worth investing time into due to the Lindy effect. They will be around when most of the current software is gone. Besides, a text-mode Lisp VM (which is what Emacs is), makes your life as a developer much more enjoyable.
For now I've settled on Apple Notes which works well with the iPad and pencil across all of my devices. I also use Drafts for longer form writing. The downside is that I'm trapped in Apple's ecosystem, but I'm already deeply there so I might as well embrace it.
Wait - I see that org-web says it does sync with Google drive, so I will try that out. Seems like I can use it by self hosting and not requiring giving google credentials out to some scary startupm (or large corporate entity I don't want to trust either).
Thanks for the tip!
There is also a guide for android https://orgmode-exocortex.com/2020/04/28/voice-capture-org-m...
More fundamentally, if you (anyone reading) can think of any easily usable way to sync files between devices, I think it might not be too hard to get Organice/etc. to support that as yet another backend.
They also don't give me RSI, which is a welcome change from emacs.
1. Org-mode (or Emacs?) is not completed, by which you imply it is in some kind of premature state that it's not ready to use. like some kind of "version 0.2 beta, use at your own risk". Nothing is further from the truth. Org-mode is currently on stable release 9.3.6. It has been tried and tested for many, many years and is widely used in its niche.
The fact that it is under active development is not a shortcoming, it's a plus. Unless you're arguing by analogy that you cannot use such software as "Chrome" or "TensorFlow" because they have not yet been completed.
2. RSI - I've heard this argument multiple times, and I believe that it actually might affect some people. I, for one, have been using Emacs for well over 20 years and have never had any problems along those lines. But for those who do experience issues, there are multiple solutions around that you might want to give a try. They range from remapping of some central keys to completely different ways of inputting commands, e.g., inspired by vim.
Don't get me wrong, you can user whatever you want. But if these two points are the only reason you shy away from giving org-mode a try, do not worry and don't let them stand in your way.
In fact that's pretty much the start of every org mode article - "here's how to change your config file"
(There's nothing wrong with that - I totally enjoy it for some things. I just need a workflow now, not when I've put all the pieces together)
And the "remapping central keys"/"completely different ways of inputting commands" is exactly the faffing about I refer to as well. I know I can customize it to my heart's content. I've done that. I've written way too much elisp. I don't want to any more. I want something that works for me, as out-of-the-box as possible. Many SaaS offerings do.
It's not to say you shouldn't use org mode if it works for you. But I'm not "going to give it a try" if I have a solution that works right now. Nope. Thanks. I have things I'd rather do.
Also note that my point about the remapping was this: I never had RSI issues with Emacs, so for me it actually works pretty much out of the box. If you experience certain problems, Emacs provides what it takes to adjust it to your specific needs. Can these other SaaS tools do that too?
It's great that not everyone has to use the same tool to get the job done. Variety rules.
1) org-mode makes a bad spreadsheet
2) No good Android interface, Orgzly is OK, but doesn't do advanced features and often crashed for me.
3) Despite lots of trying, I couldn't get "into" using the Emacs shortcut keys, which are different to every other application on Windows.
4) I like variable width fonts, and variable width fonts don't seem to work with various bits of org mode (for example tables)
I'm sure you love org-mode, and that's great, but plenty of people over the years have tried and failed to love emacs, and lost a whole lot of time in the process.
2) I'm using Orgzly and yeah, it's OK. For me, OK is all I really need here since I mostly need org-mode when I'm infront of a computer. When I'm away all I really need it for is quickly adding things to do.
3) Definitely takes getting used to. I started using org-mode a couple years ago as a vim user.
I've also lost a lot of time trying different apps such as Evernote, OneNote, and Trello. And setting everything up to integrate between them. Eventually I decided on markdown files for notes, but the TODO and tag integration of org-mode is what made me switch.
They're syntax highlighted in a distinct way and that should be all you need.
This is the fundamental tradeoff of emacs, basically: it's nearly always possible to get exactly what you want, in exchange for an unreasonable amount of effort.
Once one gets the hang of using those spreadsheets and has written oneself a few examples, from which one can always copy or look things up, I think they are pretty amazing. Perhaps this is exactly the time you do not wish to spend on it, which is fine. Just saying, that for many purposes those spreadsheets work very well. There is after all GNU Calc behind them and if you want a complete programming language in form of Elisp as well. Power they do not lack, that is for sure.
Same. I use mixed-pitch, a package on MELPA
M-x package-install mixed-pitch
Emacs is not ideal. But it is the most flexible and configurable piece of software in the world - and org-mode is the best outliner ever created.
1) When I google for some advanced operations (like multi-column sort), the advice seemed to be export as CSV and do it in openoffice.
2) While orgzly is a good attempt, if you google around you will find lots of limitations (it's too long since I've used it), as it is a reimplementation of org-mode so can't hope to be feature complete.
A noob can pick up emacs, type M-x cua-mode M-x org-mode and have a simple to use outliner which recognizes most of the keyboard shortcuts they're familiar with.
I use emacs extensively, but I started using omnifocus years ago and that is what I still use. The features for me are: just about perfect sync across devices. self-hosted data. enough sorting and prioritizing features.
But I will say around ios 7 timeframe they drank the apple Koolaid and changed just about everything in the app - and most were meaningless look-and-feel changes. Just about everything else in the app was negatively impacted.
to think of putting my data - the data I run my life with - into something that will only ever improve over time is very compelling.
Ultimately, it depends on the type of user but the "barrier" may be that it's plain text. So Org Mode's data format as a desirable selling point is also its ceiling of functionality.
Yes, I store 90% of my notes in plain text. But I also store some programming notes in MS Excel because I need a datagrid as UI with dynamic calculations. I store some project notes in MS Word because I need to embed graphics along with text. I suppose I could use Org Mode as a "single source of truth" by linking to .xlsx and .docx files but I reorganize my folder structures too often to make such file links stable.
I made a previous comment why Emacs Org Mode along with everything else I tried in the last few decades to organize life is a very hard problem of "boiling the ocean":
* Recalculate formulas a la excel: https://orgmode.org/worg/org-tutorials/org-spreadsheet-intro...
* Actually you can go way further than cloning basic excel functionality. For example, you can write inline code to generate or retrieve some data, feed that into a graphing program, and then inline the resulting chart back into the org file. https://orgmode.org/worg/org-contrib/babel/intro.html
* Display inline images: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/17621495/emacs-org-displ...
(I'm an enthusiastic org-mode user, by the way.)
I find inline pictures very helpful when Org Babel is used as analog of Jupyter notebooks (plantuml diagrams, pandas plots).
I am back to using org-mode for other stuff.
The other limitation of out-of-the-box Org Mode "plain text" architecture is that it limits collaboration of letting other users edit my file because fine-grain locking is not as straightforward as with a db file like SQLite. My "master todo list" is easier to manage if I can let my significant other can enter items for me instead of me doing all the manual data entry myself.
I do understand that since Emacs has Lisp, it can ultimately do anything if you really want to customize/extend/research it.
That said, no, I don't actually think it is a replacement for spreadsheets. Especially not if you are already fluent in them.
(EDIT: In the meantime, I guess you could shell out to https://www.gnu.org/software/datamash/manual/datamash.html.)
On the topic of commandline spreadsheets; I'm a huge fan of sc(1), a cute curses-based spreadsheet calculator.
However, at this point I'm OK with shelling out to external tool for data wrangling.
Linking implies too many manual operations to keep things tidy when moving headings around. Try Org attachments.
- Basically, a heading has an attachment directory, whose name is by default generated by Org, and optionally inherited from some level in the outline hierarchy.
- Any attachment is represented by a heading with the :ATTACH: tag and an ID in the :ID: property of its drawer. Actual files can be e.g. copied, moved, or symlinked.
- Attachment directories, the :ATTACH: tag and :ID: property are conveniently added by one of the attach commands, but can also be customized (`org-attach' is the dispatcher, bound by default to <C-c C-a>).
- For a given heading, run a command (conveniently, from the dispatcher) to visit the attachment directory for the heading from the configured file browser or Dired: <C-c C-a f> and <C-c C-a F>, respectively.
If it makes sense to move attachments when moving headings around, or when otherwise adding files externally to the attachment directory, there is `org-attach-sync' (<C-c C-a z>):
Synchronize the current task with its attachment directory, in case you added attachments yourself.
When referencing one of the attached files within the heading, one can use the `attachment' link type, which points to files resolving to the attachment directory. The format is [[attachment:FILE-IN-ATTACHMENT-DIR][DESCRIPTION]] and can be easily inserted with completion by `org-insert-link'.
For more complicated attachment linking scenarios it might be better to configure the attachment directory to be absolute (`org-attach-id-dir').
Conclusion: The use of Org attachments and the attachment: link type stabilizes links to files.
I'm a big org-mode user as well, and that solves most of the "write stuff down for later" needs for me.
Nah, it moves the barrier, but it's still there. There always are barriers. In case of org-mode it's the limitations of emacs and time you need to invest into forging them into whatever system you seek, which often is not even possible with emacs.
However, if there's something you really cannot do in emacs, my advice would be to try praying, because at that point nothing else can help you.
But that's okay. Every job it's right tool.
Chrome in emacs? No problem. Excel on linux on emacs? No problem, just run Excel on Windows on VirtualBox on emacs.
(in case you missed it from my first comment, I'm being facetious)
If you do stuff like this, at least use https://github.com/manateelazycat/emacs-application-framewor... for some better level of integration. Though, still seperate and limited.
No, this is important for integration. Integration is the main benefit you have while using emacs.
> One of the most powerful features of org is babel, which clearly pushes out the execution to the external tools.
Yes, but it has very limited interaction with them. The whole interface is in emacs. Emacs is doing many of this embedded fire n' forget-style interactions. That doesn't make them richful.
If anything, I think I dislike the other tools so much because they do fall into the trap of requiring all things be in process. I think that is a huge reason that they don't focus as much on the serialization of their data in a friendly way.
That is to say, if other programs worked harder (or at all) at making themselves programmable, their programs could force a form of stability that is unheard of in many of them. And then I could happily control them from emacs. :D
When I visit evernote.com, I see the obvious fails: "sign up", "log in".
You gotta own the data, so that no matter how bad the program turns out to be, you have some a nice local file sitting on your hard drive from which you can ferret it all out somehow.
There isn't a single piece of software that has replaced as many other tools, or simplified or otherwise benefited me as much as Emac+OrgMode.
OrgMode is what I now use for:
- project management
- various almost-literate-programming tasks
- calendaring, to a very extensive degree
I could probably spend a good few paragraphs explaining how making a note in my 'knowledge base' file can be given a due date so it shows up in my calendar, etc., but I'll just say that Emacs+OrgMode has effectively replaced:
- DayOne (personal journalling)
- and probably a few more
I don’t happen to agree with this in the specific case of org-mode, but it’s a useful generic insight.
Just look at the document. It's a 400+kb HTML page of Emacs configurations, keybindings and other stuff that makes absolutely no sense unless you've been an avid Emacs user for years. Where is the Plain Text here? I see nothing of the sort. Sure, the output might resemble Plain Text, but it's clearly not.
I have nothing against it or those who use it, more power to you, but please be realistic.
Sorry about the rant.
The "plain text" catch phrase is not baseless, though. One of the best things about org mode is that there really is a simple and intuitive markup format at its core. Most users probably only ever use the "outliner" features, which are pretty obvious. But once you're used to that, there are lots of more complex features you can start using, one by one. Or just ignore.
Being text, org mode files are also pretty easy to e.g. grep.
In my experience, one does actually just edit text files using org-mode. It is different than the Tasks sub-application of Thunderbird/Lightening, for instance.
I’ve been a long time org user and am slowly starting to move bits of my workflow out of it to ease collaboration with the staff I’m planning to hire in the next couple months. I absolutely love Org and am not particularly happy about moving away from it, but... it seems like trying to use it in a collaborative way is not going to go well. I’ll keep using it for myself though because it’s awesome :D
Well, you can, if you export your issues. Jira has a well working API. It's not hard to write a script for fetching your stuff locally. There are even one or two plugins on melpa for loading it directly into org-mode.
Running `grep` from the root of my Org directory gives me access to about 10 years of notes from various projects across various organizations. In hindsight, I could have tried to periodically dump things out of my clients' various project management systems for historical reference, but just using Org on its own has proven pretty effective at that :)
Could collaboration be done using a public git repository?
Forgetting to commit and push my notes before switching from my Mac laptop to my Linux laptop would be pretty disappointing, compared to them magically showing up. On the other hand, if I had multiple people working on the same set of org files in Dropbox, I suspect Dropbox would start having trouble with conflicts pretty quickly.
And... unfortunately... it seems unlikely that someone I'm going to hire is going to be on-board with project management in Emacs. While I'd love to have an army of Emacs lovers working for me, that seems unrealistic to expect :)
1. A syntax for organizing information
2. An Emacs configuration to create and maintain files in said syntax.
Clearly, the "plain text" part of the quote that tripped you off refers to 1. And in theory, you can write and read that format in any editor that supports plain text files. But I think you're right that in reality, and unlike competitors like Markdown or reText, this one is tightly coupled to a single text editor: Emacs.
Does that make the tag-line wrong? I don't think so. But perhaps it sounds like a stretch in the light of point 2.
At the same time, I think this motto ("your life in plain text") has been around for a long, long time - from a time, when org-mode was less complex. Like many successful (niche or non-niche) products, it has grown tremendously in terms of features. So, perhaps that motto was more fitting to org-mode's beginning.
That said, all tools for using anything with a non-trivial set of options or features are complex. Think IDE's or Photoshop etc. -- you don't need all the features to get started and you won't even use all features on a regular basis. But whenever you want to do something, and the tools gives you the possibility to do it, it will make you happy.
That's why you end up with long instruction manuals.
Is it different for any other tool of sufficient complexity?
So I think "Your life in plain text" still holds today.
I use org cause I can write code in multiple languages as well as having my notes and thoughts on the process. Again colleagues like that I then share those as HTML. I like that is instant documentation.
Trello and family don't do that.
Well, I mean this does come up all the time, where people talk about how much time they sink into Emacs. Emacs is an interface to a programming language. Of course you can stick time into it, just as people spend hundreds of hours writing code with any programming language. For basic usage, you don't need to. I don't think Emacs needs to apologize for being a lot of fun for experimenting and customizing. Those same people would be scrolling Twitter or Facebook if they procrastinated using Emacs.
I think there are a lot of org-mode users that would like to see org-mode for VS Code (there are some starts) and other editors. Org-mode is really an extendable dsl for personal information. Source code (which is what you are calling the output) is interesting in that it looks like a semi-structured text file, and compiles to many output formats (pdf, HTML, spreadsheets, etc).
- the venn diagram of people using emacs and using org-mode seems to largely overlap. That makes it impractical in non emacs heavy environments (aka. the wider industry).
- tooling outside of emacs is mostly not there.
- org mode is a basically similar to other wiki dialects with similar syntax, limitations, tooling, etc. Other than the (emacs) tooling, I don't see a strong reason for preferring it.
The above makes it a non-starter for me personally (not an emacs user) or for teams that have non emacs users (i.e. all teams I've been on, ever). That does not invalidate it as a personal note taking tool of course. But lets indeed not overstate its utility. Some people like post-its, scribbling in a notebook, simply remembering to do stuff, or their super duper emacs setups. Whatever works for you.
1. org-mode is already installed in Emacs. Open a .org file in Emacs and you have everything you need ready and waiting.
2. You can make an outline by putting * for first-level heading, two * for second-level, and so on.
3. You can add notes below a heading simply by typing.
4. You can link wiki-style to other documents with the shortcut C-c C-l and entering the filename. Remember to include the path as in ./filename.org. The same shortcut works to edit the link. You can click on the link to open it and then start typing.
5. You can move headings and the full subtree below them using the Alt key plus arrows. This outlining capability is very nice if you're used to it from Workflowy or Dynalist.
There are lots of other things you can do with org-mode, but as a basic way to organize your information, it's very simple even if you've never used Emacs.
Be dismissive of my comment if you want, but I'm guessing you either didn't bother to read it or to understand it, because there's nothing in there that the vast majority of computer users don't already do.
Depends. It's very practical if you're an independent contractor. I run my contracting from Emacs, including tracking tasks, time, generating invoices and processing documents. The main extra integration I have is LaTeX, which I use to generate nice PDFs to send to customers.
Before, as a salaried employee, I still used it for task management and time tracking - regular software used for that purpose (e.g. Jira) is nowhere near ergonomic enough to make detailed TODO lists, and store notes and code samples along with them. Not to mention, it's not the kind of stuff you'd want to spam on public time/task tracker systems. So Org Mode works really great as a private, more detailed tracking/noting system. Bonus points if you develop with Emacs too, as then you can achieve nice synergy (e.g. evaluating code snippets straight from the notes).
> org mode is a basically similar to other wiki dialects with similar syntax, limitations, tooling, etc. Other than the (emacs) tooling, I don't see a strong reason for preferring it.
That's only partly true. Org's markup language is pretty similar to Markdown. But it's the tooling - the Org Mode - that makes it unique, and mostly unusable outside of Emacs. Within Org language, like TODO markers, priorities, drawers, header options, code block parameters, etc. serve as hooks for the tooling, and this is what lets you turn an .org document from a glorified Markdown into a fully-featured outliner/task tracker/time tracker/spreadsheet/literate programming environment.
Org-mode has a strong focus on organisational features (hence the name) and is quite extendable and modulare. With org-babel it has also a very sophisticated environment for literate programming. How are wikis in that regard this days?
org-mode is great tool for emacs as an environment. If the idea of having such a tool so close so tied into how you're working then it's the best tool I know of.
If you just want a markdown-ish outliner you can probably get that workflow elsewhere.
That being said, there are many tools built on the org mode format to help with things like todo management and interactive execution of code blocks, but it doesn't make it any less plain text.
Org modes files do export as plain text; this makes them super simple to deal with. It looks similar to a non-rendered markup file. Not pretty, but definitely plain-text.
One huge feature of org mode I have yet to use is that you can nest org mode files. So you can have ten org mode files from different parts of your life all get pulled and displayed into one screen.
this thing is a 5 year old specialist's setup and its not appropriate for new users, even the installation instructions have not aged well.
that didn't stop me from copying way to much of his work into my initial setup and crying about the mess i made when i got started though :) if you want to get started with org or that strange editor, consider yourself as having been trolled and look for something that has popup captures and does linked images not something this time/billing specific at first!
The latter is robust to your hard drive failing and downloadable in plaintext, too. And it looks better. And you don't have to learn a billion key shortcuts with silly names like "yank" to use it.
And later on, if you decide to keep using it, you can decide to add more shortcuts to your repertoire on a case-by-case basis.
"Yank" is not specific to org-more, btw, but Emacs lingo which predates, of course, a lot of modern UI conventions. Most other names are quite straight-forward.
Note also, that it's not the keyboard shortcut that is called "yank" - the latter is the name of a functionality which you could, if you wanted so, type out in order to use it. The keyboard short is there so you don't have to, and you don't even have to remember the proper name of the function that the shortcut is for.
Or if you later find some other tool that suits you better it may not be possible to move all your data to the other system, or at least prohibitively hard. With org mode, you can probably whip up an extension that mimics that other tool, or else just port you data.
The attraction of org mode is that it it's probably close to the simplest, most primitive way of solving that problem it solves, while also being one of the most easily extensible and customizable (because, emacs).
I don't want primitive, I want convenient and easy to use. I don't want to have to think about how I'm taking notes or write in lisp or "rice" anything.
Also, Emacs is ugly and doesn't sync with my phone. I'm sure I could fix both of those things with sufficient effort, but again, I want to put forth effort solving actual problems, not remaking my Workflowy setup.
This entire topic is microcosm of goofy command line/unix fetishism.
If you want primitive, get a paper notebook. One page per day. That works well, too (seriously).
I'm not claiming Org is a silver bullet, or even better than WorkFlowly or anything else people might use, but it definitely has it's place.
Workflowy has the opposite problem of orgmode. Workflowy owns your data and unless you frequently sync it with your hard drive then you risk losing all of your notes.
However, the best tool is the one that fits your needs and that you're familiar with. That said, would I encourage you to Wade into the orgmode pool? Most certainly!
It syncs to 3 places, of which 2 are encrypted off-site backups. Since I already do everything in Emacs, org mode extends all the tools I already use (links to emails, specific lines in a source code file, contacts, IRC). I spent one hour learning it about 4 years ago and I use it to manage just about everything I have to do on my computer.
If you are not already sold.on Emacs, however, I understand that it can be a tough thing to swallow.
If you also use org-mode for tasks then you can add todo items to your notes that show up in your general agenda, which you may be using to keep track of meetings or events, as well.
in the last year i know two new developers who have written their own emacs configs.
Emacs can't be appreciated for any one feature, even org mode, powerful as that is. You have to take the entire system and all it's possibilities into account. Org mode is particularly special because it integrates so many of Emacs' features, from literate programming to keeping a Wiki, to scheduling, to keeping a diary, to file browsing, to accounting, to emailing, to so much more. But to try to judge one package like org mode is a bit like judging a car by the quality of its seats.
The only thing I've experienced which compares to this is, perversely, the Office 365 suite. Yes, of course, all the functions are completely different and I'm not making a like-for-like functionality comparison. But in Office365 an email client (Outlook) is integrated with a team's documents (via Sharepoint), chats (via Teams), calendar, etc, etc. The value of Office365 isn't in any one app, it's their integration. It's the entire system.
Obviously the Emacs system has a completely different and opposing design philosophy to Office365's. It's ground-up, fully-extendable, initially demanding, text based, exportable, self-hosted, free, and so on. All of which increasingly goes against the grain of the trajectory of software today. However for those who give it the time and effort, it really does offer to organise your life, and yes, in plain text.
For Office 365 that ecosystem is by and large constituted by the paid labour of workers employed by Microsoft, together with a minor subset of plugin contributors for certain applications.
For Emacs, the ecosystem includes everyone who adopts the use of emacs.
In other words, to Microsoft's system you are a customer. Microsoft may choose to adapt their system to your use case if you are lucky enough to represent a big enough user or use case. To emacs you are part of the very ecology which sustains the whole system. That's where the sense of empowerment and 'freedom' (I hate the term) comes from.
There's a critical optimization problem here the young often get wrong. One needs to "Huffman code" the work put into organizing on entry, versus the work later in retrieving. For example, I save physical receipts into four rotating bins by quarter, then I vacuum pack the old receipts and stash them in the garage. Occasionally I save hundreds of dollars by proving I shipped something (and that would be a receipt I probably scanned) but any more work than this on entry would be a mistake.
It's the complete lack of organizational structure, other than date, that make my log files so useful. I instead get good at including keywords, always asking how I would find this later. I never have to wonder whether I filed this under "garden" or "tomatoes", resorting to a system-wide search. And this system has survived many editor migrations.
I agree with the arguments not to use a commercial system. That's like putting an aspirational cookbook on your coffee table. Org Mode is also too structured on entry to be optimal for me.
A thread here about a week ago on bookmark management reinforced this idea for me. When it comes to general knowledge management, complex, predefined taxonomies don't feel worth the overhead when retrieval is so often ad hoc and messy. Grepping about in log files for keywords usually does the trick. Tags are nice, but like you say, getting good at including searchable keywords performs a similar function.
Sync all my calendars, OS notifications (considering the time it would take me to walk/drive), sync all this in mobile/iPad and be able to edit effectively there, and the list goes on. Laptop/Mobile notifications are the biggest ones, as if I'm not reminded on what I've to do, I will probably miss it anyways.
I've found org-mode much more practical for taking notes while working, as I'm already in Emacs writing code.
I found out about it through HN, iirc, and it’s how I got started with using org-mode.
I just stick it all in a single file. Well, two: one for work, one for personal. It's still fast. It's still easy to pull information up when I need it.
In org mode you get faster, more efficient and more powerful as you develop, which means you don't need to summon that willpower.
For instance when I asked about accessing org from a phone, this person told me he sshed in and accessed it using a phone terminal emulator.
Yeah... No... That's not my ideal way to organize my life.
I use this format:
## yyyy-mm-dd name of the homework
- for tasks that have to be done
! for tasks that contain a warning, careful, beware
> for tasks I am waiting for others to give me output about
? for tasks I am not sure about
v for tasks I've completed
x for tasks i won't do, WONTFIX
so, for example, today i'd have:
## 2020-05-25 orgmode
> ask about orgmode on hn
v rant on hn about my own flatfile task management
x install emacs
? look if orgmode can be tested on vi
… seriously. The list is so long. That's just off the top of my head. Granted, some of this is more useful in academia, but depending on how much research you do, it can come in handy at any time.
I can close tasks and it automatically update when I closed them. I can use keyboard shortcuts to cycle through what state a task is in. e.g. TODO, DONE, BLOCKED etc.
I can assign types to the task, and update these with a few simple keyboard shortcuts.
If I have a list of tasks, e.g.
TODO Foo [0/3]
- [ ] A
- [ ] B
- [ ] C
I can plan my week ahead org-mode agenda,where it will auto generate my week. I can see reports based on what I did and didn't get finished. I can archive this data off to an archive file.
I can easily create plaintext tables that will auto format for me to fit stuff, I can do calculations in them (as these plaintext tables are basically spreadsheets).
All through just typing text and learning some keyboard shortcuts.
And its always just plain text, I can open it in any editor and what I see will make sense.
Can write code in line in a number of languages (e.g. Ruby, LISP etc) and have it executed in the file.
I don't know how customisable it would be in those editors. My org-mode is pretty customized via my emacs config and I don't know if they would support agenda.
The markup is just markdown, modulo a few conventions. The power of org mode is manipulating the data / text / content you have written and marked up
As one example of this, org mode makes it easy to collapse/expand the content of a task.
Its basically text only onenote.
You aren't going to look like a wizard, but you are also not going to need to maintain anything ever. These kinds of cookbooks are nice to have around, but it's best to treat them as references, not guides.
Now, looking at this, all of these features make sense to me, but I'm far from using all of them. Agree it's more of a kitchensink reference.
edit: Also interestingly Vscode feels much more cross platform for me. I have tried to get Emacs running on windows and it wasn't a good experience.
Much like Rome, this document wasn't written in a day. You can start using org-mode for task planning and agenda with a fresh (Doom/Spacemacs/vanilla)-Emacs install and be productive from the get go. That's what I did.
Then, you add things whenever you feel like it. You may never feel like it, the default is already very powerful, and I don't have a lot of customization around agendas, etc. in my configuration. The only thing I actually do is set where my org mode files live, set a couple of keybindings, and add one agenda view. That's it. I've been using that same setup for years now.
The rest of my config is merely making it a bit prettier, because default Emacs is somewhat ugly.
Are a great business idea for this very purpose because it gives people the illusion that they are getting organized --> productive.
Why do such super organisation, where you have great search at your disposal?
I just have everything inside Notes folder with subfolders if any project is getting bigger. Anytime I want to look for something, I just do global text search for the whole Notes folder.
First I started scheduling things. With org, you can schedule items and have them show up in your agenda regardless of what org file they are in. Org agenda gives you an outline of your week, and your current day, and it says how many days you have left until certain items are due. This has replaced my calendar, and feels superior to a calendar to me.
Then I started using org-drill, which lets you drill org notes, emulating the spaced-repetition behavior of Anki. You could just use Anki, but it's nice to have all of your personal information management in one place, and have it editable from your text editor.
I've also started using hyperlinks to make links between my org files and also to any other file on my computer, to web URLs, to executing a script, to mailto links... This has been helpful.
I still don't use plenty of features, like the literate programming stuff, tables, tags, capture, etc. But I don't need to. They're there for me if I feel they would be helpful. But they're invisible to me otherwise. Org isn't "insanely complicated" because it's mostly just a text file, and the features are there for you to use if you need them, but there's no cluttered UI that actually adds any complexity.
This is like saying that excel is insanely complicated for no reason, when pen and paper exist. If this is all you need, great, but if it is not then the comparison does not even make sense.
But tasks or todo lists benefit from being well-organised.
Ultimately, I switched to using specific tools for specific tasks. For example, I found Zotero a much better way of managing research, while still allowing export to BibTeX.
I still can organize in plain text, I just avoid getting tripped up with endless tool maintenance and customization.
Now, I rely heavily on Apple Notes (this required discovering a little app that exports the notes for backup, and also realizing that I can use the web apps in iCloud.com on my Linux laptop).
This reliance on Notes may change however as just recently I have developed the habit of keeping a Mosh (like SSH) session always open between my iPhone and iPad to my remote server, with appropriate tmux setups for each device. I was just thinking yesterday about how I could now always keep a tmux pane open to emacs+org-mode.
Also which app for Apple Notes exports do you use?
unfortunately, i don't work closely with any developers. i took a job a couple years ago in order to apprentice under a linux guru, but unfortunately he left the company 2 days before i started. i was fortunate to learn a lot from the remaining team before the company shuttered 8 months later.
Where ever you work, it is fair game to ask people there for advice.
It's the highest productivity format I have ever encountered, and we haven't even touched org-agenda.
> How do you use org-mode to automate pull-requests?
I have a script called 'new_jira $JIRA_NUMBER' which pulls relevant JIRA information from the REST API and generates an org-mode file. I do my work and list implementation details, gotchas, and generally narrate work done. Details are light for easy tickets, and heavy on complex ones. Finally, render it as markdown and copy/paste in the GitHub PR field.
I also include tips / tricks if it's not appropriate to comment directly in the code base. I come back and search for these later (knowledge base).
> Do you make the pull request inside emacs?
I've usually faced admin issues trying to get the necessary tokens to make PRs in emacs. Just render, copy & paste in the PR title/description field.
> Are you using it to compile a note from all of the commits in a certain branch?
That's right. All work relevant to a particular ticket is captured in a single org-mode file. I keep my git history clean and well documented so it's not necessary to use these files to understand commit history though.
> Or something else?
For work unrelated to the JIRA flow (e.g. security bug hunting) I use org-mode to track the entire narrative and use org-babel to inline code necessary for the exploit. This makes security reporting easy as I just render as PDF and shoot it off to the security people.
(It's FOSS but available on the App Store and Google Play for convenience. It will be available on F-Droid soon as well.)
If you're on Android then you can wait for F-Droid, or you can get an automatic refund from Google Play if you uninstall it shortly after purchase.
Otherwise you can always build and install from source, since it's FOSS.
When my scroll bar turns into a tiny square in the top right of the window for something as trivial as a note-taking system I nope right out of there.
The author logged how he customized his setup to do whatever he needed and shared it. I found great tips there.
I fail to understand the negativity in the comments for such hacker friendly system and submission.
One would have thought that a programmable editor (using LISP, no less) would be held in high regard by the majority of people on here.
Just goes to show that you can't please all of the people all of the time.
Maybe these people are hackers who hack as-in "hacksaw", to punch a hole quickly. There is no sense of urgency in the french synonyms etymology.
What I found pretty quickly was that org-mode is great for organizing things in emacs. BUT if you ingest any meaningful amount of ideas from outside of emacs, it gets orders of magnitude more difficult to put your "whole life" in there. Emacs was built in a pre-web, pre-mobile world, and it's a frustrating experience to try and wire those up to emacs.
There are some helper packages, to be sure, but tools like Evernote have seamless capture built across all the platforms without any effort on my part. I found once I'd decided to switch from using org-mode to using Evernote as my life organizing destination a whole class of challenges simply disappared.
In my opinion, we should use the right tool for the job. Org-mode, by the nature of living in emacs land, is very difficult to actually get you whole life into, even if it would be nice to organize once you did so.
Also, I stopped using Emacs as my daily driver when I started working in Java professionally.
So, something that helped me get pass that inertia was learning where init.el resided and how it is loaded. After I read about that, installing a package manager that's not constrained to the minibuffer was a 3-4 line endeavour (use-package). Save, reload. After that, you might get a notification of Emacs warning you about trusting an unknown source. (I always accept here.) After that, it was a matter of using M-x use-package and installing packages that I remembered from Spacemacs: which-key, restart-emacs, swiper/counsel/ivy, and hydra were enough to get me up and running.
Regarding the overly complicated commands, I agree that they're a bit lengthy but you are able to change the ergonomics of your keybindings at will. My config is heavily inspired by evil-leader and I put a lot of functionality behind "C-;". So, "C-; f p f" will open a search dialog for all of the files in the current VCS repo. This might be lengthy for some but it feels right to me. I like that about Emacs.
Sorry for the rambling! If you ever decide to try it out again, feel free to message me and I'll help where I can.
The most detailed org LP example I have is at
the tangled products are at
and the "woven" HTML is at
Sometime in the near future I'll split the LP tools off from the rest of my configuration so that others can use them more easily, if they're so inclined.
It just seems like it has so much promise, and people have done a lot of interesting things with it, but it's clouded behind this learning curve and toolchain.
I ended up using OmniFocus for my tasks and Notion for "information and note storing"; they have great, built-in support for the things I need to do and I spend very little time managing them and keeping them in order, so they simply do "what I need them for". They also play nice with mobile devices, images and external documents, and integrate with my Outlook calendar (something I am forced to use for work).
I have no doubt that a proficient Emacs user could create something similar, even better, using only Org mode; I don't use third party configurations and keep mine to one hundred lines, more or less; when things get more complicated, I notice that I mostly end up in a game of min/maxing without getting the same amount of "useful" that I get from other systems.
The big problem is that, the way I'm running now, I don't own my data; OmniFocus worries me particularly because, as already said in other comments, it's Apple-only. Notion worries me too: I wish them all the best, but what happens if they go out of business? Sure, I can export everything in plain text, but the structure of my data would be pretty hard to recreate in another system.
Even though configuration + Org files amount to some amount of complexity, I can have trust that their format is long lived and that they are stored where I decide. This is a sort of "peace of mind" I can relate with, and that I have somehow lost when I decided to use these other systems; however I am infinitely more satisfied with two systems that do "exactly what I want"; I hope to find a way to reconcile these ends sometimes, but for the moment Org mode is "only" my outlining tool of choice.
Those are my core must haves, but there is much more which really motivated me getting into Joplin.
Plus, org mode encourages so much planning to be productive and customization that I end up without any time to get any real work done
For context I have lost files because the old version of the software which could read the formats would not run on my operating system, and purchasing a new license for the updated version was no guarantee that it would work either as the format had changed.
Yes, this is a stupid qualm to have when Excel/Word exists, but in those cases the alternative is not easily digestible plain text documents.
The case for making things more proprietary and costly should come with serious considerations.
Especially at $10/mo. That's more than I pay for Netflix.
(FD: I'm not an org-mode or emacs user, and this was written on a Mac)
Information on the '.ofocus' file format here: https://github.com/tomzx/ofocus-format
I agree that a FOSS solution is preferable to a proprietary one, however, an easy to use software with a GUI is also preferable to one with a good amount of learning curve. I don't have any issue with the GUI.
I also don't have any issue with costing money. Quality software can cost money, since it costs money to create it. The alternative is software which spies on you and serves you ads. I don't know any other model by which a note taking app can make money.
What's wrong with costing money anyways. A vast majority of HN earns fat salaries writing software. Either those salaries have to come from selling software or from tracking users. I much more prefer software being charged for.
The idea of locking myself out of my data is unappealing.
And as I replied to the sibling: the ability to export to a format does not mean that it's the default, that it's optimal and not lossy.
If you were able to change the output format permanently to .taskpaper and the software "just worked" I would have less of an issue.
I don't mind software costing money (I pay for an all-license JetBrains account) but that doesn't lock information away in proprietary formats requiring me to renew my subscription or lose my data.
All of this is lost on export/import from .taskpaper, since there's no easy taskpaper representation of such data.
Representing this as a "backup" implies that it can be completely recovered, but that would certainly not be the case, this is an export, a new, lossy, representation of data.
That is also assuming that you consistently export to .taskpaper and not just rely on the default format - which is what everyone and there mum is going to be doing. Because consistently exporting to plaintext is not a common workflow.
I am not an OmniFocus user, recent versions of OmniFocus can export data to the TaskPaper format (which is just plain text) or to a CSV file.
You _can_ export Excel documents as CSV too.
Organising life is an abstract monster that no one has ever gotten even close solving it. The question of how do make the most out of our time in our short and unpredictable lifetimes has become somewhat intriguing and boggling to me.
Over the years I've been playing around with a architecture of a tool that would take a crack at this ambiguous challenge.
If someone's interested in trying out an early version, feel free to leave your email here. https://forms.gle/tqpuNpfdpdB3DZLi9.
Remember, that you don't actually have to learn Emacs, like you had to learn vim to use it. It's just an ordinary text-editor, no huge upfront time investment is needed, especially if all you are after is OrgMode.
Since remote work happened, I use a big single org file, with headers and a date here or there.
Now I have the opportunity to fix this and a guide to how.
I've seen a great org mode webapp here, but Google drive permissions means you are forced to grant the webapp read/write to everything (not just a folder or mimetype).
In spite of that I still use it because I've never seen anything like it in terms of functionality.
(1) I can export to many formats.
(2) I can choose what to code export (source blocks).
(3) I can choose what code to run on export.
(4) I can give names to source blocks and then link to them in other source blocks, basically building a code dependency tree with them, allowing me to focus on one aspect at a time.
(5) I can link to other source blocks out of order.
(6) I can specify how the output should be put back into my document.
(7) I get syntax highlighting for any language, that is usually highlighted in my Emacs.
(8) I can use multiple (programming) languages. For example I could output a data table and then have another source block using GNU Plot to make a nice diagram.
(9) I can write explanations next to the source blocks in a lot of detail.
There is probably more, that does not come to mind just right now. Then there are some git hosts (notabug), which can render org-mode files like the usual hosts render markdown files (readme.md). So when you upload into git, you get instant readability in a rendered version, plus possibly syntax highlighting on the website.
That is only one aspect where org-mode really shines. I find it also indispensable for to-do lists. Using shortcuts to check or uncheck items and recalculating done/to-do count or percentages in a higher level of the to-do list. One can prioritize headings and use tagging, to enable later filtering of headings and narrowing down visible content.
One can also render Latex formulas inline for preview. If you need only standard document classes, you can go ahead and output to latex. Or you can create your own document class in your init.el file and customize everything as you would in writing Latex yourself, only that you get the benefit of writing org-mode instead. Much more focus on the content.
And then of course everything is plain text, which makes this even better and easy to manage in version control.
I just love org-mode! For me, easily one of the huge selling points for Emacs. The only other easy to use plain text format, that could get close was reStructuredText for me. Unfortunately there are few good reStructuredText parsers in many programming languages.
It was okay, but I didn't (and still don't) use Emacs for anything else.
I get the impression that unless you live your life entirely in Emacs then it's just not worth it.