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Show HN: Plain Org – A new org mode app for iOS (apps.apple.com)
132 points by xenodium 66 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 55 comments

I'd almost swap to an iPhone for access to this app!

Org is amazingly powerful but as someone here commented recently, the learning curve is a brick wall! I was an emacs user for decades before getting up enough momentum to tackle org and make it useful for me.

That said, I think org mode text is a much better basis for PKM and Productivity tools than the proprietary or markdown based tools that seem to be gaining in popularity. Its great to see tools like this one, plus Flat Habits[1] and LogSeq[2] join BrainTool (mine)[3] as part of an org-based ecosystem.

[1] https://flathabits.com/ [2] https://logseq.com/ [3] https://braintool.org

Seems that org-mode is powerful enough to not only convert vim->Emacs, but also Android->iOS

As a Vim user, orgmode has always been very tempting. I’m watching this new Neovim plugin now: https://github.com/kristijanhusak/orgmode.nvim/tree/0.1

VIM user here. Yes, after over two decades of VIM I've almost completely converted over to SpaceMacs thanks to org-mode. It is that good.

BrainTool looks incredible. I'm on Firefox, so can't use it yet, but this is the _exact_ tool I wish was integrated into my browser.

My workflow is almost always:

1. need to solve $problem 2. do a big Google, collating some mental state along the way 3. end up with a rudimentary understanding of $problem, with some books to grab, tools to consider, next steps to take 4. resolve $problem sufficiently _for now_ 5. leave those tabs to exist forever, repeat entire process in 6 months time when $problem comes up again

BrainTool looks like the shortcircuit I need.

Not exactly the same but as a fellow Firefox user here is one of my workflows (some practical stuff at the end):

- research one topic, using a Firefox instance with Tree Style Tabs, ctrl clicking each link I follow thereby opening it in a new leaf-branch, producing a tree of tabs documenting where I have been.

- research another topic... and another and then a few more.

- realizing after a few days I have more than 600 tabs open just in my research browser (I have one reserved for customer systems and mail, and on that I use mostly only Bitwarden, uBlock Origin and container tabs).

- I select one or more trees from my research browser, export them to markdown and get a nice indented markdown list of everything, copy those into Joplin, go back to Firefox and right click to close all selected tabs.

- that's it.

Hints: For this to work you need Firefox, the Tree Style Tabs (TST) Firefox extension as well as one or two TST extensions. Yes, on Firefox extensions can have extensions, and no, it doesn't bog down my browsers to any significant degree. The relevant TST extensions can be found linked from the TST addon page, yes they are also Firefox extensions but they won't help much without TST I think.

Yeah, I used to use TST (well, Sidebery) but have recently switched it off in an effort to curb my tabs (along with session restoration; now, it's a fresh browser every time, so I actually make the effort to archive something rather than leave it to linger forever).

I was unaware TST had an archive to Markdown feature though (just found the ticket in https://github.com/piroor/treestyletab/issues/1274) -- that's really really cool, and is something I'll try out! I think what I really want is "bookmark _with notes_", and that'd give me that, much like BrainTool would.

It's a bit jankier, and I suppose updates don't work (delete & recreate would do it) but it's almost built in to FF: save all tabs to folder; open all from folder.

Yeah, that's close, but it's not _quite_ far enough (thanks for the suggestion though :)). I've tried that in the past, but (like I said in the sibling comment), what I really want is "bookmark _with notes_". Sibling comment suggested that TST has a feature for that now, which looks really useful too.

Wow, you seem to have read my mind! I’ve just recently gotten sick of dealing with the data portability nightmare that most apps have and am in the process of moving everything over to plaintext.

Logseq is exactly the notes app replacement I was looking for (as soon as it comes over to iOS).

Also, are you planning on porting BrainTool over to Firefox or safari?

I've had a lot of requests for Firefox. It will definitely get there in the reasonably near future. It currently runs on any Chromium-based browser, so Edge, Brave etc as well as Chrome. The FF api is just different enough (no support for tab groups) that the port is real work. This is the first request I've had for Safari tho, so its not on my list yet.

Plain text all the way!

Note that Logseq is made by the same team who wrote Obsidian, and Obsidian has iPhone and iPad apps already.

No they are not

Huh, I’d heard that several times, and that they’d moved to working on Obsidian like a sequel to Logseq. I can’t find anything showing that it’s the same team, though, so I guess you’re right until I see otherwise.

I think you're thinking of Dynalist.

OMG, you’re completely right. Yep, that’s exactly what I was thinking of. Thanks for the correction!

http://www.orgzly.com/ is a FOSS alternative for Android.

> [3] https://braintool.org

It looks really interesting. However, it asks for access to your browsing history, Google Drive, including all personal information associated with your Google account, which I think is a bit much given that I couldn't find any information about the author or source code.

BrainTool creator here. BT is very much a private and local first application, see the philosophy statement[1].

I use the absolute minimal permissions required to do the job. 'Browsing history' means I get access to the urls that tabs have open, there's no way to help you categorize them without that! Google Drive access is optional and only needed if you want to sync your data to a text file on your GDrive. BrainTool passes you to Google Auth and asks for permission to read and write the file on your behalf. It does not have access to any other information from your Google account.

The code is open sourced on my github[2]. Not sure what else you want to know about me, maybe my LinkedIn[3]?

I'm very much soliciting input from all sources RN, so if it looks interesting do give it a try and LMK what you think.

[1] https://braintool.org/overview.html [2] https://github.com/tconfrey?tab=repositories [3] https://www.linkedin.com/in/tconfrey/


Thanks for the reply! I think adding GitHub and maybe LinkedIn links to your website would help establish a greater degree of trust. And please don't take it personally. It is just that given the high number of extensions stealing your data, I default to not trusting them.

Regarding Google Drive, the Google pop-up says:

"Select what BrainTool can access

- Associate you with your personal info on Google

- See your personal info, including any personal info you've made publicly available

- See your primary Google Account email address

- See, edit, create, and delete only the specific Google Drive files you use with this app."

The first three options cannot be unchecked and the last option needs to be selected for the integration to work. I don't know if it would be possible to require only the last option, but it would certainly make me more comfortable using BrainTool.

Otherwise, BrainTool looks great!

No offense taken, I completely understand and this is the kind of feedback I'm looking for!

The first version of BrainTool required the Google Drive integration to work and I quickly found that it was a barrier to adoption for some people and so made it optional. Unfortunately the first 3 popup items are not controllable by me. I am planning to add a local file integration option to avoid this altogether.

Can also see how the app evolved over at https://reddit.com/r/plainorg

I used org and org-roam for a while before (just recently) moving my notes over to Obsidian. I hope to move back over to org one day (at the most rudimentary I find org syntax vastly superior to markdown), and projects like this definitely help.

I've been trying to pinpoint why I felt friction with the org approach, and I would narrow down to a couple categories:

1. Because the notes sat inside a larger emacs context, I spent too little time actually reading my notes. It's nice just to have Obsidian open all the time as a singularly focused tool.

2. I spent a lot of my time tinkering with my config, never feeling totally happy with it, than just using the tool. I'd call this the big emacs problem, though moving to Doom from my own vanilla config last year really helped with this.

3. I run emacs-mac nowadays on an M1 machine, which feels like the fastest emacs experience I've ever had (much faster than on other machines with native-comp enabled), but I still experience lock ups, freezes, stutters, and the like that not only make me sort of sour on notes in emacs, but have started making me think about trying other editors.

4. Obviously the mobile experience. I really like what's going on here, and with org-roam support I think this would be solved for me. I want my notes to look and feel nice, and having a high quality mobile app that particularly supports my mobile wiki would rock. I was never very happy with BeOrg.

If anyone here has had similar issues as I have but have found themselves happy with some combination of emacs, plainorg, flat habits, logseq, .. please let me know your setup! I have felt a little wary moving to a non-free system.

Strong and enthusiastic support for working copy and secure shellfish integration as a priority for sync support.

that workflow is amazing.

I recently paid for Working Copy and use it for mobile access to Org and Markdown files. How does this app work worth it?

Plugs in like other cloud syncing extensions https://imgur.com/a/hw7BC1U


So I can install the app and it can just open the files that already sync through Git/Working Copy? I’ll just have to plunk down my nine dollars!

Speaking of plunking down money: thank you so much for not making this a subscription!

plugging secureshellfish to you then: it's the same guy as working copy, and just absurdly well done.

TIL. That local editing experience looks wonderful. Thank you!

Does iOS still not have something like Termux? I've never felt a need for apps like these when Emacs itself works so great on Android, it's even available in Termux's package manager.

Tasks and that you do on the go and the hardware are sufficiently different from desktop/laptop that a different UI would be useful e.g., I use both MobileOrg (capture, sync/backup, search—mobile code experience) and Termius (use emacs remotely on iPad—desktop experience)


iSH perhaps? (Sorry, can't find a link right now, but it's an app that I can run Emacs on. Lightweight Alpine Linux, I think.)

Any users able to compare to my fave https://beorgapp.com/ ?

Org mode files are just the best for interoperability.

cool design, what's org mode?

I recommend staying in the dark on this one: a few years ago I asked "what's org mode", and now my whole life is lived inside Emacs.

ha word to the wise, thanks !

The Last Personal Organizer You Will Need.

Seriously though. No TODO app has worked so well for so long for me.

The only problem is that it lives inside emacs. I have tried many times using org-mode but I have never succeeded because of Emacs. I guess it is an incredible editor but not for me. I wish there was a beautiful sublime like orgmode app for macos. Or a good vscode extension. I haven’t found yet.

Org mode is a text mode for the Emacs text editor. Just like you would expect Markdown files to be highlighted differently from Python files, Org mode displays certain text files in a certain way.

But that's the short side of it. Org mode has been refined for almost two decades to be the absolute best note manager, agenda, and organizer that you've ever seen. It simply keeps a low profile because it is not a GUI app - there is nothing to right-click on, or drag, or triple-click-with-control-then-swipe. People hate that!

A markdown-like syntax for todo lists, tables, and other things.

And an Emacs extension for easily navigating, editing, and searching these files.

(And an entire way of life, apparently.)

Technically it is true that it is a markup language but it is missing the essence of what makes Org-mode great. It is like saying that Stephen King is literate—it is true it is even indispensable for his work but it should not be the first thing we mention about him.

Org mode is the bicycle for your mind/the second brain/the whole life in a plain text.

An Emacs mode used to view/edit org markup https://orgmode.org

I’ve been using PlainOrg for a while through the beta, and I just wanted to pop in and say that it’s great! PlainOrg is great for reading and basic editing of org mode files. I find it much nicer to use than BeOrg. The latter has more complex features, but PlainOrg definitely wins for most day to day usage.

Since I assume all the org fans will be in here, does anyone have any recommendations for non-emacs org systems (on Linux desktop)? I don't want to relearn every keybinding, but I love the concept of a simple text-based organizational format with good editor support.

There's always cua-mode … That gives you the regular control+z/x/c/v bindings. In org-mode, C-c (control-c) is quite overloaded, but it seems to work: If nothing is selected, it has the org meaning, while if something is selected, it copies.

(Options → Customize Emacs → All settings matching → cua-mode and hit Toggle and Apply and Save)

'non-emacs', does (neo)vim counts? if yes, there is orgmode.nvim[0]

[0]: https://github.com/kristijanhusak/orgmode.nvim

You really don't need any Emacs keybinding if you set up Evil. Like how I use Emacs on mobile, because typing modifier keys is harder, I just use basic vi commands and bind everything else I need to single-character Hydras[0]. If you don't know vi you should probably learn basic commands like copy and save which emacs-tutorial is more than enough for. Actual Emacs and it's ecosystem is just too good to let something that simple deter you.

[0] https://github.com/abo-abo/hydra

Highly recommend LogSeq (https://logseq.com). It started out as very Roam-inspired, but with focus on actually supporting both Org and Md. It’s quite GUI-heavy with good shortcuts support.

Congrats on the launch! Plain Org is coming together very well and I wanted to show my support.

I use OrgMode, among with tools like Roam Research. I have always felt the lack of good mobile support as a deterrent for using OrgMode on the move. This gives me hope!

What advantage does org mode have over Notion?

Does it do time tracking / habit tracking? Agendas? Org mode is more than just a todo app.

> Does it do time tracking

Please upvote this feature if interested (org has a rich feature set, gotta prioritize) https://www.reddit.com/r/plainorg/comments/qo2aps/feature_re...

> habit tracking?

This one I got covered in https://flathabits.com

Congrats on the launch. I bought it :)

Thank you!

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