Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Joplin – an open source note taking and to-do application with synchronization (joplinapp.org)
116 points by josefslerka 3 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 74 comments

Past related threads:

Joplin – an open source note taking and to-do application with sync - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22439485 - Feb 2020 (36 comments)

Joplin – a note taking and to-do application with synchronization capabilities - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21555238 - Nov 2019 (150 comments)

Joplin – A note-taking and to-do app with builds for desktop, mobile, terminal - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15815040 - Nov 2017 (204 comments)

Joplin is great, been using it for a little over a year now.

What's not the best is react native is... complex (rightfully so, many layers of abstraction) and it's hard to contribute unless you really grok every layer (JS/React/iOS Apps/XCode)

I tried to fix the spinner direction on mobile and trying to test was _challenging_. That said, If you are a react native expert, and can spare literally 30 min and wanna help feel free to take a look: https://github.com/laurent22/joplin/pull/4506

I used it for quite some time, but a couple of things have made me stop using it as of late.

Firstly, its just not very nice to look at, especially compared to something like Notion. I want something thats a joy to work in.

Secondly, the mobile experience kinda sucks. I used to use it to maintain a list of when i've taken my medication. Upon opening the app, i first have to wait to make sure my notes are fully synced from anything I changed on my laptop. Then once ive updated the note, I have to wait for the notes to be synced before i close it. If you close the app before syncing completes, it wont work.

Also all sorts of UX issues in the app, primary one I can think of is the keyboard going over the top of the text you are trying to write.

In general, a lot of the time I dont really have the need to have a see both a markdown-rendered window, and the text window. I end up closing the markdown-render window so I have more screen area to see what im writing. But then it just doesn't look good?

Im not trying to hate on Joplin, I really want to enjoy it. I even wrote a plugin for it. Does anyone have any similar thoughts?

I tried to use Joplin for a while, and stopped largely due to the same reasons as you.

I switched to Obisidan, which also stores all its notes locally in Markdown, offers all the features you want and a robust plugin ecosystem, has a (beta) mobile client, and is pretty.

The one thing it doesn't have that I really want is "WYSIWYG" markdown editing, a la Typora (but it's on the roadmap!).

I’ve been using a theme in Obsidian that’s _pretty much_ WYSIWYG, but albeit not _quite_ at Typora/Notion levels. If you’re working in that paragraph it’ll show syntax but hide it once that paragraph loses focus.

To me this felt like the best of both worlds since I can actually jump into an existing piece of formatted text and easily modify it or “jump out of” formatted modes like ‘code’ which was a bit of a pain in Notion.

Oh, that's cool! What's the theme?

I agree, the mobile experience is pretty dreadful.

One missing feature that has been requested many times, and largely ignored, is linking between pages quickly like in Confluence or a wiki. The biggest value in taking notes for me, comes from the ability to link multiple notes together freely and quickly.

that has been addressed in the quicklinks [1] and the backlinks [2] plugin, which are an absolute bliss

[1] https://discourse.joplinapp.org/t/quick-links-plugin/14214

[2] https://discourse.joplinapp.org/t/automatic-backlinks-with-m...

I just tested Quick Links. It looks okay, but the big thing is that you need to be able to create a link to a new page as you type, then open the page and start typing. Quick Links speeds up the process of linking to an existing page. You can already drag a page link from the sidebar onto the page.

Plugins shouldn't be required for core features. I consider linking as a core feature for any feature rich note taking application.

i have to drag and drop from the note list to link my current page to another

I didn't realise I wanted this until just now

So many people here are going to be one of today's lucky 10,000 [1] to learn about the awesomeness that Joplin is.

It's been around for quite a long time, in active development, with a nice ecosystem and well-polished featureset and interface.

I've been loving it for the time I've been using it. It even has a web clipper.

[1]: https://xkcd.com/1053/

13 days later, but better late than even later.

The web clipper, which I use constantly in Firefox, is a godsend.

I can capture: full page, simplified page, just the selected text, or just the URL. And then I can edit the resulting document with my own notes, add other links or attachments and etc.

It allows me to take my own notes and build on a collection of bookmarked pages that I can still search and refer to long after the original site has disappeared.

I wrote down some notes from previous discussions about note-taking apps, and one negative point I got for Joplin is that it uses an opaque & unstructured file naming: <UUID>.md

I guess this didn't change? While it seems arbitrary, I really would prefer to have some more readable names for when I access my notes with a plain text editor. Not being forced to use the same program everywhere in case I'm not on my computer or I'm in a hurry somehow and the software is not installed.

For me Obsidian is better but Joplin tramples it because it is open source

Pros: - Open source - Rich markdown with math notation, code highlighting and more - Sincronizable - Actively maintained

Cons: - Not so polished, especially in mobile - Less support for linking short notes than, say, Obsidian - Difficult to contribute to codebase

Just put markdown in a private git repo. There are good markdown editors (and git clients) for desktop and mobile. Much more portable and less reliant on some specific software.

I'm doing the same but with syncthing instead of git to get auto sync

I have been doing the same for the last year or so too. Syncthing has been very good and reliable.

What are you using on mobile for: - search - note editing

I'm on Android and have found nothing good.

I've transitioned to Joplin as my every day note taking app. Evernote did their dash with me when they limited to 2 devices (I was considering paying for it until that point, it showed that they're willing to change terms on a whim).

OneNote never resonated with me.

I was just syncing a directory of MD files for a while.

Joplin ended up working well for me, syncing to my own NextCloud server. The only thing I wish were different is that it wasn't an Electron app using heaps of memory (this is what stopped me adopting it earlier).

How do the UI and features compare to Evernote?

I would say underwhelming.

I have been looking for note taking apps and shorted listed Joplin and Trilium [1].

I'm currently experimenting with Trilium since couple of days. While it looks complex at first, it seems to have a lot of extensibility which might make it "future proof" for extensive data.

So far it looks good.

[1] https://github.com/zadam/trilium

I could use the opposite:

A TODO-app which has no synchronization capabilities so I don't need to worry about leakage of private data.

Ideally it would use a very simple plaintext file format for its database so it is future proof, e.g. http://todotxt.org/

The TODO.txt format seems very nice but the Android apps listed on that site are either not fully developed or unmaintained, and one even looks like it's not open source.

Simpletask seems like the most advanced implementation, but it got kicked out of Google Play for the usual Google shenanigans, so the author says on a sticky GitHub issue that he has lost motivation: https://github.com/mpcjanssen/simpletask-android/issues/1110

I believe Markor[0] might satisfy your needs of having a TODO.txt editor that has no sync capabilities. I have to use in combination with Dropsync[1] to sync my notes.

Admittedly, I only use Markor for my plaintext notes and rely on Todo.txt[2] for my TODO.txt needs, which is still maintained and has syncing builtin.

[0]: https://gsantner.net/project/markor.html

[1]: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ttxapps.dr...

[2]: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.c306.ttsup...


I had tried Markor already, and its TODO feature seems like a prototype unfortunately. It lacks crucial UI to use it properly and it's clearly visible that the TODO part is "bolt-on" only on top of a text editor. :|

With regards to Todo.txt[2]: I can't manage to find its source code, is it open source?

I use Markor for plaintext notes and TODO.txt files as well, synced with Syncthing. Markor itself is open-source under Apache License, and you can disable network access via permission or firewall if you don't trust it.

FWIW, synchronization in Joplin is:

- Optional

- End-to-end encrypted

- Can be self-hosted or restricted to a file-system (like a network drive)


That is nice but consider a broader point of view please:

If not carefully choosing offline-only software, then almost everything demands internet access nowadays. All of those things will claim that they handle my data safely. Obviously that cannot be true, leaks do still happen.

So from the perspective of someone who has to actually install, use and frequently update a dozen of Android apps, it is much easier to stick to only using such which do not want internet access instead of constantly having to read a very large amount of changelogs because all software you use is hooked up to the internet.

> So from the perspective of someone who has to actually install, use and frequently update a dozen of Android apps, it is much easier to stick to only using such which do not want internet access instead of constantly having to read a very large amount of changelogs because all software you use is hooked up to the internet.

Even offline-only apps might gain online capabilities. You need to read the changelogs nevertheless.

In the case of Joplin, AFAIR it is offline first when you start it. As it supports various sync options you have to configure one before it will start syncing over the net.

I think the risk of Joplin getting a sync option that is activated by default is about the same as an offline app getting online features.

> Even offline-only apps might gain online capabilities. You need to read the changelogs nevertheless.

No, I only have to look at the permissions. That is much less work because they're not arbitrarily long like changelogs can be.

And Google Play flags new permissions with a green "New", so it's easy to spot.

AIUI Joplin effectively does that; its synchronization abilities boil down to "Integrate with file synchronization tools that don't natively create sync folders on your phone so you don't have to pay for a pro Dropbox account".

I just set up a test sync, and the files in my Dropbox Apps/Joplin folder are just Markdown and JSON (there appear to be some dotfiles, but I'll bet they just cache the database graph etc).

Well thanks, but on Android it demands "full network access", so it does want to do something on the internet :|

I suppose it's possible they want to use the sync service's API rather than the app? Web stuff is really the wrong end of the stack for me, so not sure what the "right" decision there would be.

See my reply to jszymborski for my problem with that.

Use Obsidian or Logseq or Zim Wiki or TiddlyWiki or Zettlr or one of the many others.

org mode in emacs is pretty great and there are lots of org editor apps for smartphones if you don't want to run full emacs.

Personally I sync my org files along with my calendar using git and that works well enough for me.

I’ve had a lot of trouble finding org editors for my phone. Org web like it might be the favourite right now but I don’t really want to host it myself.

Can I ask what format you use for calendar files too? That’s another one I have a bit of trouble with! Everything seems to want to use the Google APIs for everything.

Emacs actually has built in support for the unix calendar format and the official distribution has import and export utilities for ical files so you can handle/generate invitations. I keep it in the same git repo that I have my org files in.

I'm actually a vim user (and have been since I was ~12.) I just use Emacs because it's where all the good PIM tools are for Linux.

Any issues with Orgzly?

Org web looks neat, though I really hope there's some theming options.

Cannot see the clickable actions on the yellow background.

Edit: also from the looks of it Org-Web only needs a static host and some keys set up, as the gDrive/dropbox is done via client SDKs?

As a user of Orgzly, it's not the best note taking tool on mobile. Its a _great_ todo/reminder app that stores and syncs using org-mode.

You might be interested in a project I created for exactly the use case you describe - simple, text-based notes/todos managed via a CLI: https://github.com/dkaslovsky/textnote

The project received some attention on the front page of HN a few months ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26123436

Because all notes are plaintext and stored in a single directory, it is easy to use standard tooling (such as grep) to extend the functionality. If cloud synchronization is a must-have, simply sync the directory to your provider of choice.


I'm looking for an Android app unfortunately, sorry :|

I've been using https://github.com/vimoutliner/vimoutliner for about a decade, everywhere I work. Just text files with simple Ascii checkboxes.

Can you not just use a bunch of .txt files in a directory and whatever your usual editor of choice is at that point?

I have multiple thousands of personal TODOs, so it is impossible to manage that size of a workload without proper UI for moving, sorting and filtering according to priority, location, project, etc.

But thanks for your suggestion anyway :)

Why do people keep using Dropbox and others for syncm?!

Just use syncthing.


I have to admit, my experience with Syncthing is not what I'd call smooth. It's great when it works, but I didn't find it trivial to set up, the sync didn't work all the time, and then I was running my own storage/backup system.

I use Joplin with OneDrive and it works great. Setup was clicking a couple buttons. My employer provides me with 1 TB of storage. The free version gives you 5 GB and OneDrive standalone gives you 100 GB for $1.99 a month. I'm just a user but I'd encourage anyone to go the OneDrive route with Joplin rather than messing with Syncthing.

That's unfortunate! If it has been a while I would give it another swing. I'm even using it to have a shared drive in the company I'm running.

And on top of it I'll add that Syncthing added a feature called "untrusted device encryption"


So you can set a node in the cloud and set an encryption key between two endpoints, and whichever nodes that have the directory synced but doesn't have the encryption key will never have access to the decrypted data.

This feature is great! Super simple to setup offsite.

I use it for simple off-site redundancy.


joplin is one of the initial open source note taking tools with cross platform and device support. they were an inspiration for me for making my own note taking tool.

shameless plug: if your looking for a modern dev focused note taking tool, would love to get feedback on what you think of https://wiki.dendron.so/

I am a heavy one note user with a group we all sync our notes to a network drive abs it works well.

Would this be equivalent but supports iOS and Linux?

I've used both a fair bit and I think it would be hard to replicate the multi user magic of older OneNote versions in any program at the moment.

Is newer one note not as good? It always bugs me to upgrade but usually the newer versions of everything are worse for the user.

You cannot use your own file server anymore so it is unusable by some organizations.

Also it feels more like a toy.

And so it goes. A program solves a problem for you, it is good value, you start to use it, it is changed to further lock you in, and then it changes to a subscription

One day I dream that OneNote will be open source

Let's have Windows switch to GPL while we're at it too ;)

I exported my Evernote content and Joplin can open it without any change.

Joplin has been around for awhile in this space; has anything new happened?

Looks like a v2 recently went into "pre-release": https://joplinapp.org/changelog/

Does it have images/pictures?

Yes, but the support is a bit clunky compared to the competition.

It’s a pity OSS doesn’t have the resources to vet the names. In Russian this name doesn’t sound good no matter how you pronounce.

I guess no Russians listen to Janis Joplin either then.

"You can please some people some of the time. You can't please all the people all the time."

I’m alluding to this, context matters: https://www.carthrottle.com/post/49rx9gg/

Actually it is named after a pianist: https://joplinapp.org/faq/#why-is-it-named-joplin

My point exactly, you might think it’s a safe name to pick. Context is everything and for a todo app this name is quite unfortunate.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact