• hartator 6 days ago
    It amazed me that after almost 3 decades we still don't have "the way" to take notes on computer.

    Evernote came close to it for me before they mess their UI. Native Notes on iOS and on Mac is pretty straightforward but misses search features and is.. ugly. Ending up with several .txt files a little like OP organized in folders is also nice as it should survived most of potential future changes in term of everything and allows you to whichever editor but seems inefficient.

    • The issue is how you define what a note even is. Some people say it’s just plain text; some demand support for images; some want to attach arbitrary files; some want rich text/markup, and some demand markdown specifically while others don’t care about the underlying format; some want simple tables, while others want full databases in their notes; some want to organize with folder and tags, while some just want tags, while some just want folders, while some want notes to live inside other notes.

      With so many definitions of what a “note” is even supposed to be, it’s no surprise that we haven’t settled on a single way to create and edit them.

      • hartator 6 days ago
        Totally true. I've ended up a mix between ReMarkable 2 e-ink tablet for meetings notes, Apple Notes for things like grocery lists, and regular folders on a cloud for long term archiving and references.
        • Mister_X 6 days ago
          OT, but I've had a MobiScribe e-Ink tablet for almost a couple of years now, I use it daily for notes and diagrams, fantastic tool, but that ReMarkable 2 e-ink tablet looks worthy of a closer look, Thanks!

          Oops, just checked, mine has a backlight, and the ReMarkable is even more Closed than my MobiScribe, fail.

          • robinsoh 6 days ago
            > Oops, just checked, mine has a backlight, and the ReMarkable is even more Closed than my MobiScribe, fail.

            Are you certain about this? I was told that remarkable is open source. But I have not verified this myself. But I see tools like https://github.com/torwag/remarkableflash which suggest it is possible to recompile what software remarkable has published and then flash it on to the system. Please double check either way.

            • hartator 5 days ago
              The ReMarkable is pretty open, you can ssh on it without mod! Their CTO is a former KDE developer or something in the like I believe.

              Overall, ReMarkable 1 and 2 are pretty awesome. It's a cool tool to take ton of notes without having to worry about loosing anything. Just wish their search feature was OCR. This is truly missing.

              • xyquadrat 6 days ago
                I'm not sure what you mean by

                > the ReMarkable is even more Closed than my MobiScribe, fail.

                The ReMarkable is comparatively very hackable and open, see for example https://github.com/reHackable/awesome-reMarkable/. It doesn't have a backlight though, that's true.

              • johntash 6 days ago
                What do you think of the ReMarkable 2? It looks really interesting, but for the price tag I would be scared I won't use it enough.

                Do you ever share notes you make with it or are they purely for your own reference?

                • hartator 5 days ago
                  Mostly my own reference, I did share .png of some mockups to our front end designer. That was cool I suppose!
            • rojobuffalo 6 days ago
              i'm very fond of iOS/macOS Notes app. i use it heavily every day. one breakthrough for me was to stop trying to organize. i just write everything down in bulleted lists. and i create a note for each day with the date at the top, ex. 2021-2-22, which helps when scanning the list of notes. if i have something coming up that i want to prepare for i just create that note in advance, with the upcoming date at the top.

              i find the search feature works well, except i have had an occasion where it stopped looking further back in time for some reason. that was actually pretty frustrating to discover.

              why is it ugly? i think it looks good from the minimalist perspective. the one thing that would make me happier is if i could run it vim or have a subset of vim keybindings

              • vardaro 6 days ago
                I agree. I prefer an app I can jot down plain text. I don't want to write Markdown.
              • jascii 6 days ago
                Well, after over 20.000 years we don't really have a "the way" of taking notes on paper either... Note taking styles tend to be highly dependent on context and personal style...
                • treeman79 6 days ago
                  My daughter took a class on note taking.

                  It was such an eye opener for me. Others had organized notes, but I had no idea how they did that.

                • vincentmarle 6 days ago
                  "The way" is of course Notational Velocity: https://notational.net
                • codpiece 6 days ago
                  If you really want a mindblowing take on notes, try Eastgate Tinderbox. http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/

                  Sadly, they really don't do a good job explaining the program, but it hearkens back to the early days of hypertext theory.

                  • ransom_rs 6 days ago
                    Granted, after centuries of written works, we still don't have "the way" to take hand written notes. Everyones brain works different, and people have total different ways to take notes.

                    I don't think this is 100% of the reason computers don't have a universal note taking system, but it is definitely a part of it.

                    • powersnail 6 days ago
                      Note taking is a broad term for recording thoughts and information; the requirement is difficult to define, and fairly fluid.

                      We've had pens and paper since ancient times, and people are still inventing new ways of organizing their notebooks.

                      I think "the way" might never come.

                      • xtiansimon 6 days ago
                        “ ...we still don't have "the way" to take notes on computer.”

                        What about paper? Haha. Non standard notebook sizes. Post it, tear out, sewn-bound, spiral, 3x5, 4x6, single sided, double sided, pencil, fountain pen, roller ball, blue ink, black ink, colored pens, highlighter...

                        Back in the day a prof. Of mine blew my mind with the question—why do we need specialized software at all? Why not create generic app-components? Pen, compass, paper/document first? Just like real life?

                        My Sony DPT-RP1 gets somewhat close to that idea.

                        • evad3r 6 days ago
                          I still think Evernote is somewhat the closest, though I agree their recent attempts at revamping the UI have left a bitter taste in people's mouths.

                          I don't mind the new iOS app so much UI wise, though its performance has gone to the dogs (recent issue for example was me trying to write a note in an underground car park with no signal - and it just would not load the note composer at all!)

                          The Windows app at least has dark mode now, though it's stuck in a weird hybrid of "classic Windows UI" versus "modern UI"

                          • perryizgr8 6 days ago
                            My favorite note-taking setup is a portable version of Notepad++ saved to my Dropbox folder. Portable, auto-saving, fast, fully-searchable. So amazing.

                            Only problem is that I don't have a Windows computer anymore so I can't use Notepad++ anymore and I haven't seen anything come close to it on Macos.

                          • crazypython 6 days ago
                            I'm interested in using org-journal, a minor mode for Emacs org-mode, which supports collapsing. https://github.com/bastibe/org-journal

                                * Tuesday, 06/04/13
                                ** 10:28 Company meeting
                                Endless discussions about projects. Not much progress
                                ** 11:33 Work on org-journal
                                For the longest time, I wanted to have a cool diary app on my
                                computer. However, I simply lacked the right tool for that job. After
                                many hours of searching, I finally found PersonalDiary on EmacsWiki.
                                PersonalDiary is a very simple diary system based on the emacs
                                calendar. It works pretty well, but I don't really like that it only
                                uses unstructured text.
                            • Mister_X 6 days ago
                              Ummm, does anyone make somthing like that for Vi?

                              Asking for a friend.

                            • ta988 6 days ago
                              OrgMode is great, especially when you use an emacs distributions with good defaults (doom, spacemacs...)
                            • tshtf 6 days ago
                              I've been using Joplin for note taking in the terminal: https://joplinapp.org/terminal/. Joplin is great since it also has mobile apps, and you can sync with multiple backends (Dropbox, OneDrive, S3).

                              But it's anything but simple though, it brings along 579 dependencies.

                              • runjake 6 days ago
                                Along similar lines, nickjj also has a similar (but bash) notes script at:


                                • nickjj 6 days ago
                                  Thanks for linking that.

                                  Some noticeable differences between my script and theirs are:

                                  1. Mine is a zero dependency ~20 line bash script.

                                  2. Mine dates your files like YYYY-MM.txt for easy access later on and then appends to the file for a specific month.

                                  3. Mine is designed to be used from the command line with the least amount of effort possible while giving you the most flexibility you can realistically ask for. Mine has no sub commands. You can add 1 line notes by just typing `notes hey this is my cool note` or run `notes` without arguments to open this month's notes file in your $EDITOR. It also supports taking input from stdin so you can save the output of programs or your clipboard into your notes.

                                  There's no built in things like searching because you can grep your plain text notes at your leisure, and since the files are dated that means you can go in there and delete your notes as needed too. There's also no git integration built into the tool because your notes directory is literally a directory of plain text files. You can choose to `git init` a git repo in there if you'd like. The note tool works the same with or without it being a git repo.

                                  This tool was created after ~20 years worth of plain text note taking. There hasn't been a commit to the project in a year because the script is basically done and works. I use it every day. There's no need to add features into it like encryption or backups because that can be handled elsewhere such as putting the notes directory into Dropbox or having a backup script reference that directory to backup (personally I rsync it with a bunch of other directories to an external HD in a daily cron job).

                                • makeworld 6 days ago
                                  Seems similar to nb.


                                  • Thanks, it is a beautiful program. I will probably steal some ideas :)
                                  • Hello HN!

                                    After years of activity in the main threads I am jumping in with an note taking application I wrote over the last few days.

                                    Why another note taking application? Because the ones I tried are really great but lack the simplicity I need. I finally decided to write one to get rid of the zillions of paper scraps with cryptic things like "7654" or "go to JK to get RF". What I needed:

                                    - create a note directly from the command line: `<Win Key>note q my first /oh a title/ note #france<Enter>`

                                    - quickly edit a note via its serial number or title: `note e todo`

                                    - use my favourite editor which is much better than the one I could write

                                    - shorten my suffering when choosing a title for a one shot note - just press enter and a readable date will be used

                                    - tags!

                                    - search, delete

                                    I have many more ideas (they are in the README) and hope that this 1.0 version will be useful to someone.

                                    I would greatly appreciate any feedback - I am an amateur developer so the code is far from nice but I tried to keep it clean and with a minimal amount of excellent ideas that later become hieroglyphic studies to understand what I meant then.


                                  • sidpatil 6 days ago
                                    For a long time, my notetaking system consisted of a single alias similar to the following:

                                    jj=joe "~/journal/$(date --rfc-3339=seconds).txt"

                                    It worked well.

                                    • notyourday 6 days ago
                                      Here's mine. It uses an editor. Tags are done via :tag . Search is supported using the same editor or grep. It automatically adds a date. If I start typing on a command line then whatever I typed becomes the starting line of a note. It is aliased to "notes".

                                        PAST_ALL_LINES="10000000" # skipping this many lines puts us to the bottom of the file
                                        if [[ ! -f ${LOGBOOK} ]]; then
                                           echo "${LOGBOOK} is not found. Check if it exists 
                                           exit 1
                                        if [[ ! -f ${EDITOR} ]]; then
                                           echo "${EDITOR} is not found. Install it first?"
                                           exit 1
                                        if [[ ! -z "$@" ]]; then
                                           STRING="$@ "
                                        echo -e -n "\n`date`\n===============================\n\n$STRING"|${EDITOR} +100000000 ${LOGBOOK}
                                      • irrational 6 days ago
                                        It feels like every week there is a new take on taking notes showing up on HN. Clearly note taking isn’t “solved” yet. Maybe it is because everyone wants something different. I want:

                                        * supports Markdeep syntax

                                        * notes are NOT stored in any sort of binary format. Notes should be easy to parse.

                                        * zips up a backup of all the notes and emails it to me on a regular basis.

                                        * allows certain notes to be encrypted (yes, I know this goes against notes being parseable) and password protected.

                                        * notes are synced across all my devices.

                                        • slaymaker1907 6 days ago
                                          TiddlyWiki kind of does this. It can store binary data, but it is literally a single HTML file (or at least can be easily saved as such). I think you could just export to a single file tiddler and email that to yourself as a chron job.

                                          For sync, I personally just use OneDrive though any other file sync service would work just as well. I use TiddlyDesktop actually and save everything as a single HTML file. TiddlyDesktop has its own backup system separate from OneDrive since it always puts the previous version into a folder before saving over it (this does need cleaning out periodically). The backup feature is actually great for resolving conflicts since the backups have unique names.

                                          TiddlyWiki even has encryption, though I've never done it. There is a plug-in for encrypting individual tiddlers as well.

                                          • Ah thanks, you reminded me that I want to add a "dump" mode for all notes
                                          • nwj 6 days ago
                                            I've written a (somewhat) similar CLI in rust: https://github.com/nwj/zeke/

                                            These threads are great for collecting a bunch of different implementations and looking at the various design decisions people have made. There's really a surprising amount of variety out there.

                                            • Yes, I used my own needs but I am actively looking at similar programs, such as yours.

                                              I am actually contemplating making the notes self-contained, with the tags and title as metadata (in the file)

                                            • marcuskaz 6 days ago
                                              It's a fun low risk space to try out a language. I just started rewriting an old one I had now in Rust. Many similar ideas and planned features, currently mine just accepts notes from command-line, piped in, or uses the editor.


                                              • justmert 6 days ago
                                                I have done too with a nice command line interface in Python https://github.com/justmert/Taskboard
                                                • maebert 6 days ago
                                                  Obligatory shout-out to jrnl (https://jrnl.sh) for all of your command-line note-taking needs!
                                                  • dvt 6 days ago
                                                    Ah yes, here it is: the monthly HN note-taking app. I'm no oracle, but here are some posts you will see in this thread:

                                                    - The people that swear by notepad/plaintext

                                                    - The people that swear by Markdown or some derivative

                                                    - The old curmudgeon that still uses pen and paper

                                                    - The one guy that uses Emacs (Org-mode) and he swears it's not that hard "once you get used to it"

                                                    - "Here's how I take notes..." -- followed by some weird/cryptic way of taking notes

                                                    - The inevitable meta post (hi mom!)

                                                    You guys must really love taking notes.