Why I do not use a note app
Evernote, Quiver, Simplenote, …, They are all good and I have used them a lot. But now I uninstalled them all. Why?
Some main reasons:
- I prefer to see the note files saved individually in a well used, open, and transparent format, rather than mysterious or private formats defined by the apps themselves.
- I prefer to use my favourite editor rather than the integrated editor reinvented by the apps.
In a word, IMHO, current note taking apps do too much for a note taking job. But could we manage to take notes without the apps and lose no convenience?
I decide to use multimarkdown because it supports metadata included as part of the document and meanwhile not part of the real contents.
The metadata is a kind of front matter like in Jekyll post, which describes any infomation you want to add to the document.
Considering a note, the following four variables seems necessary:
title: A Note date: 2016-10-17 category: Cool tags: workflow, app, mac
I restrict the
category to be only one string, as it is equal to the subfolder name.
And more variables I’d like to add:
- last: last modification date
- comments: true or false
- summary: a brief summary of the note
- published: if published to Jekyll blog
Finder + Dropbox.
Simply use Finder for note browsing, and Dropbox for syncing to the cloud.
Set a root folder in Dropbox for all notes, e.g.
"Dropbox/Notes". Let’s call it
notesdir. Drag it to stay at the side column for quick access.
Then add subfolders as categories. Add a
uncategorized subfolder for uncategorized notes.
Tips: in finder, use list (
Cmd+2) or column (
Cmd+3) view to browse note files is (maybe) sufficiently convenient. I prefer the column view, but remember to use the this trick:
Option+drag to resize the column width to show a lentgh file name, and to let Finder remember the size. Unfortunately the width of all columns must be the same, which is a little ugly, and, this width setting is globally on the mac.
I write a simple shell script to do this. It make a new note file and fill it with initial front matter.
The script is here. Save it as
newnote.sh and move it to a bash recognized path.
newnote.sh title category
titleis required. Remember to quote it if spaces exist.
categoryis empty, it will be ‘uncategorized`.
The note file
notesdir/category/title.md will be created (if it does not exist) and opened for edit.
Publish note as Jekyll post
Here I need another script to do the job:
- Copy the note to Jekyll project’s
- Rename note file to Jekyll required format:
- Modify the front matter accordingly, e.g.
- Sync with blog server
- Add and set
publishedvariable to true for the original note
publishnote.sh: (to add later)
Do we need a new kind of note taking app, again?
How about writing a new kind of app which implements the above workflow with a minimal UI, and enhance the user experience much?
- Concentrated and user-friendly note browser
- Click buttons or press shortcuts to add, edit, delete, publish, …
Essentially, the app should be a better replacement of Finder for note browsing, integrated with some common note operations. I think maybe it is worthwhile to implement such an UI. Consider doing it later 🙂