“I want to be able to take notes on my phone, share some of them online, and publish a few on my personal blog — oh, an I also want an API!”
I built this is because no tool out there satisfied my needs:
- Notion had no native app so it's very slow to use on mobile. Plus is too general.
- Medium is a disaster for readers, they shouldn't be the ones paying to read. Native app is slow AF.
- Most note-taking apps were too complex and feature creep. I wanted speed + power with simplicity first. Just give me markdown.
- Apps are either online or offline, none tried to mix those two models seamlessly.
- Blogs are either static (I need to be on my laptop and code) or use CMS which are too general and complex.
I sense there’s a demand for an easy to use native note-taking app that can also serve as an online publishing platform. A place where you can use your domain and update your notes right from your phone.
Of course, this is just a theory, so I would love to see if you all find it useful. You can try it https://collectednotes.com
- Markdown with live preview.
- Custom Domains.
- No ads, no tracking, no modals, no vanity, no nonsense.
- No data lock-in. Export your notes from day one.
- Restful API, Your Notes in different formats.
- Native experience iPhone & iPad:
Share extension, Quick actions, FaceID, Quick Actions, Keychain, Keyboard shortcuts, Slide Over & Split View, Dark Mode.
Sample note: https://collectednotes.com/blog/api, Would love to hear what you all think
One thing you might want to consider is having one domain for a website about collectednotes (collectednotes.com) and another for hosting user's blogs (collectednotes.blog for example) because it is currently not clear what urls are official and made by you and which are just blogs made by anyone.
For example, https://collectednotes.com/accounts/ is genuine and made by you whilst https://collectednotes.com/account/ is a blog I just created. To me there seems a very real risk of users being mislead.
There was a story here a couple of weeks ago or something with a post mortem from someone who got their websites taken offline and access to their mail suspended or taken offline because some automated system at a giant corporation decided so.
It stayed offline for hours because there was no competent humans available with authority to override the clearly (AFAIK) stupid decision made by the system.
Personally a key takeaway from that (except not depending on said company) was to make sure one has at least two domains, preferably with two registrars, and make sure user generated content is not available on the one you depend on for email etc.
Note that in that case the user content was on a separate domain—the registrar blocked the entire account.
(Although I think there might have been some comments about user generated content on the main domain.)
EDIT: I couldn't find anything directly on point, but I did find this related horror story about a company whose ICANN email contact information no longer worked because the company's contact person had left the company. An ICANN email to the contact person bounced back. ICANN took the entire domain offline. The company's Web person had a lot of trouble getting through to a human at ICANN to straighten things out — and even then: "To make a long story short, my client was required to submit articles of incorporation, bank statements and other documents in order to get the domain working again." 
EDIT 2: Thanks to Chris Morgan, who provided a link to a GitBook horror story. 
I added both stories to my "Startup Law 101" page , with a hat tip to both Erik and Chris.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a very cool project and it looks like you’ve done a great job. I would recommend looking into Micropub support though rather than role your own API. The IndieWeb group has worked hard and built up a lot of easy to use and powerful standards around this stuff.
Currently google tends to highlight the big sites/authoritative sources etc, and not the smaller blogs/forums/etc as much.
We basically need some filter against the winners that take all. Block off the top 10-20% sites and only show the long tail.
I imagine many people might give up after that, so I just wanted to mention it.
Another minor bug: when toggling private to public on mobile, the drop down menu doesn’t go away after you press public. It also blocks the save button, so it’s not entirely clear how to save. (I eventually figured it out.)
iPhone 8 on safari, if it helps.
This is impressive work. I was up and running in about two minutes, and I’m thinking about upgrading. https://collectednotes.com/shawwn/sample-note
My only hesitation is that it doesn’t feel like “my” notes. They’re my notes on your platform. And I don’t know whether your platform will die tomorrow. But I try to resist such concerns.
Is there a way to export all my data somehow? Also, some way of adding google analytics?
Thank you so much!
Google Analytics I won’t add. In fact I don’t even use it for the site. I don’t want to track people. But views counts will come soon.
Maybe as a premium feature under my domain?
If you "view source" on the markdown page, you'll see:
Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/theshawwn">@theshawwn</a>
For https://collectednotes.com/shawwn/sample-note, I would put GA into my notes.
See markdown: https://collectednotes.com/blog/twitter-usernames.md
The main reason to let users inject HTML is that they can add features you don't have. GA is one; mathjax is another.
Otherwise so it looks great, I look forward to giving it a go.
Other really minor bug. In dark mode the [heart] in "Made with [heart] by Alejandro Crosa" isn't visible. (FF Preview)
Your "export from day one" sparked this thought:
Allow access to your gdrive and make a collected notes folder.
two UX: 1. anytime a post is made to collected notes, a backup copy appears in Gdrive/Dropbox/Gist/whatever....
2. Post a thing to the collected docs folder in GDrive and have it slurped and presented in CollectedNotes.MYBLOG.DATE whatever...
Your video walkthrough is good.
Can I edit my notes / blog from a desktop?
edit: ah I see from the comments it is https://www.rotato.xyz/
\int_a^b f(x) dx
(I'm currently working on adding wysiwyg math editing to ProseMirror -- see the gifs here  for an early proof of concept).
Roam-style bidirectional linking would be cool, but I wonder if it's better to keep it simple for everyone else rather than add very specific features for the few people like me. Your call...
Anyways, cool project! You're definitely making something people want :)
Markdown plus an API feels like a great idea. Apps like this would be very useful for teaching the kinds of thinking used in computer science.
They encourage writing instructions for the computer in plain text and then building upwards from there. This is a much more powerful way of operating a machine than the top down with apps, in the old ICT style of learning.
Markdown is a great introduction to the concept of telling the computer what to do, rather than doing what the computer lets you do.
Good luck with the launch and traction!
The last days I was working on my personal wiki/notetaking/knowledge management because it was bugging me, that everything needs a subscription and offered too much or not enough.
The biggest problem I have is finding/discovering my notes or snippets, especially if its scattered across services. For public notes it's easy, using `site:domain.com searchterm` in a search engine. For private notes/services it's harder.
Especially the discovery feature is quite important for me, to randomly find notes I forgot about (at the end, all notes are work in progress).
I tried to collect my thoughts about it here: https://marcus-obst.de/wiki/Notetaking
 It's based on Markdown Files in a Dropbox folder hooked into Pico Flatfile CMS, I pay for webhosting anyway and dropbox is still free. Else I would use Nextcloud to replace it. Sublime Text on desktop and Drafts o iA writer are doin g exactly what I need
(I knew I bookmarked this page, but couldn't find it and had to use google :D and 5 iterations of search terms to find it again - I need to improve that...)
"The simplest, and most powerful note-taking blogging platform ever made"
Doesn't seem to be sarcastic...
On another note, is it just me or is the note-taking app the new ToDo list, a system that all developers eventually build and add to their portfolios...
I'm a compulsive note-taker and frequent writer, so this is something I will personally be taking advantage of. The blogging feature is interesting, but I'm actually going to experiment with using it to replace my current use of Notes on iOS/Mac and Typora.
I'm curious if your development path includes Desktop. I've been between Ulysses and Typora for years now. Neither covers the entirety of my file syncing, desire to access from a browser or cross platform needs.
I really think you're on to something here. Best of luck!
Everyone else is working how to best publish things and you stumbled on the solution: there is no publish.
The copy url option screen after publishing reminded me there is a publish. I think transparently use a Share option to share the url and have a share option under the notebook title.
The sample note is private, I did not realise this until my second session. I’d set it to public to illustrate the point above.
Between the recent launch of Obsidian and this, I'm probably going to go with Obsidian particularly because: I know how to set up websites and I always trust offline more than online (I've lost multiple drafts on Substack which has taught me always to either use GDocs/Dropbox Paper/Offline text).
Obsidian looks really nice, I think it’s similar to Roam. I wanted to make something simpler.
I do want to add local storage of notes for offline more.
PS: You can export all notes easily from the site at any time :)
One thing I've noticed is that when I edit a note the url exposes the ids of my account and the note I'm editing; idk if it's right or wrong to do that, but I tend to hide any incrementing key in the url. I know I'm the twothousandth-something user of your app, you are the first, etc. Not a bad thing, but a thing I would avoid. Also a bot could scan your database very easily and I'm sure you don't want that. For indexing purposes (speaking about using your app as a blog), it's bad for seo to have two urls pointing to the same resource (/sites/1 == /alejandro). My go to solution is to use random uuid for anything user facing.
Keep up the good job!
I am not able to find that website now. Can someone share it with me if you have it?
The reason I am curious about that, and the tool that OP has built, is that I have now realized that most of my personal notes don't have to be private - I can just put them out there. Now, no one will ever see them but that's hardly the point. I want to revisit that website and see what technologies they used to build such a public knowledge base.
I also started looking at Docusaurus yesterday (again, from an HN comment) and was planning to go with that, unless I find something better/simpler.
Can someone recommend tools that can help me build something like this? So far, I've thought of Docusaurus+Gitlab+Netlify with a custom domain to build such a website but wondering if there's something better.
OP's tool looks cool. But I am fairly technical, so looking for something I can fully control and isn't tied to a monthly subscription.
I've been using a similar live markdown formatter for my personal knowledge base, which I started not long ago. But it's still not something that I can easily post to from my phone... https://l-o-o-s-e-d.net/knowledge-base/introduction
Will you release an Android version for us to try?
It's very usable already! Impressive to ask for money so early in to the process. I struggle with even launching products, much less monetizing them from early on in the process. It's a major growth area for me and I've been really working at it.
It's also good to see the twitter and the speed at which you're adding features. You've done a good job launching and marketing this. I am planning to build a similar feature into a note app I'm working on and I've taken a lot of inspiration from your Show HN. Best of luck!
Didn’t know about the swiping until I saw the video which I didn’t know was on the site.
I was swiping the notes in the list view but there you have to long press.
The share button for posts doesn’t list safari, unexpectedly.
I could figure out how to go premium from the iOS version I guess this is Apples restriction. I was able to set and remove a domain which is listed as a premium perk.
I think I'd like it more if the native app was decoupled from the backend such that I could also export my notes and re-appropriate them any way I want. As biz models go, charge for the native app.
Ultimately, I'd like more control, specifically of my data. That also means offering a self-hosted version.
I like the product. I like the experience. But I want to retain more control of what's mine.
Not explaining how they make money is one of the top reasons I won't use a "free" service.
I hope you don't take this as a criticism, just feedback, because your product looks quite nice and if I weren't such a worry-wart, I'd probably subscribe.
My issue with all notetaking applications is that all of my notes are "very sensitive data" to me. I treat my notes repository like a combination diary, scratchpad (where I plop things like temporary passwords and API keys), and memory dump. I know it's probably unreasonable--you seem trustworthy at first glance--but I have this pretty big fear of my notes store accidentally leaking or even just an admin trawling where they shouldn't and reading stuff I've noted down.
Like you, I'm still on the hunt for "the perfect notetaking system" but my A-number-1-highest-priority feature requirement is self-hosting on my own hardware. If you offered that, even for a fee, I'd probably buy it because it looks quite nice.
Same here. I'm currently using Joplin (https://joplinapp.org/) for note taking, which syncs my notes via WebDAV to a server under my control. Supports markdown, but if I want to publish certain notes, I have to manually transfer them to the website.
Also, for some reason YouTube embedded markdown files when exported missed out the whole section including video link and text following it.
I'm not sure I buy your reasoning though. I could be wrong, but I believe Notion does have native apps now. Also, despite not being dedicated to note-taking, it doesn't keep you from publishing simple, complexity-free, notes to the web.
Another reason is a lot of features like continuity, slide over, share extension, etc etc. Are not available on web apps.
Basic principle is you encrypt the DB or the individual notes with an AES synchronous key with a password that you put through a KDF and then apply your sync method to the individual notes.
I think I'm showing my ignorance as I didn't get why code blocks are surrounded by four back ticks (I thought Markdown used just one), but that's just me asking and certainly not complaining.
I think one backtick is pre and three (with optional language is code with syntax highlighting)
Let me see if I can illustrate. On HN, backticks are meaningless, and code blocks require two space indents, so this should render as you would write the Markdown source:
Here would be `inline code` delimited with single backticks.
It translates to <code>inline code</code>.
Here would be a multiline code block.
It typically translates to <pre><code>Code is here.</code></pre>:
Code is here.
Swift code is here.
I know it’s probably too late for this, and I’m probably in the minority wanting this, but markdown is too complicated for my note-taking.
Also, Im kinda curious on how you got your
Terms & Conditions,
Personally, I don’t have a use for this particular app (at the moment), but I really like your interaction with people suggesting changes.
I also like that RotatO service. I bookmarked it.
e.g. a public friends list, likes/comments controlled (or at least signed) by the commenter
Def tempting. Hope it sticks around
Delivering this in three weeks is very impressive.
Mind sharing how you made the walkthrough video?
I wanted to do something similar and yours really catches the eye.
 - https://standardnotes.org/
Can you please implement accessing imgur accounts for the images... I like to post my stuff to a premium imgur account that I have had since their inception as private albums - if I can give my creds to this app, then just have it pull the images from my private albums on imgur... that would be great.
Also, im going to have to go ahead and ask you to come in on Saturday.
Do you plan to make an Android version of it?
As an aside, I wonder if apps and startups "Made with love" do better than apps and startups "Made with coffee".
This service might not be for you, but there is no reason to post such a negative comment degrading someone else’s work.
I get that you're trying to be helpful. But the way you say things come through as being dismissive about other people's work. They just put in a bunch of work into it; they seem very open to getting feedback and working on it. I'm curious what you're trying to prove by calling it "crappy"?
you offer a premium package yet there is no info on any of the above? Security/privacy concerns aside you extract money yet haven't even got a vision on how to grow this (no business plan)
... I'd give this a hard pass since it seems to be just another hobby project where everything depends on a single dev but the product ultimately doesn't have a vision. (not that this would be bad - but the fact that there is no clear statement on it _while_ extracting payment leaves a first impression that is fishy, questionable and unprofessional)