The title can also be interpreted as an imperative sentence.

How is the status of note-taking/knowledge-management software and services? Too many introductory articles, too little notes taken.

In my humble opinion, almost all those articles just introduced several fancy tools with fancy features, some might also encourage readers to take more notes, some might not, then implied so naturally that you can “just take your notes there” and the article is done.

But the user story has just begun: you take notes now, you find notes later, copy/append to/revise them, then you take more notes, repeat the process until you find that it can not satisfy your new reasonable needs and will not satisfy in the foreseeable future, or just that you are irritated by the service provider like me.

And then you are here, thinking: will Joplin work for me?

Probably not, here are some possible dealbreakers(the bad):

  • Markdown: too simple, sometimes
  • Default editor: rich editor is not ready, double columns editor doesn’t support live preview.(check Enhancement plugin)
  • Free and open source: codebase needs to be maintained, luckily it is actively maintained now
  • Full control of your data: you take the responsibility for backup
  • No sharing and collaboration features(by default/previous-design): you will need to take screenshots, or copy text, or export the note as a PDF/HTML/Markdown file, or self-host a Joplin server, or pay for the “official” Joplin Cloud supports sharing, it is a paid sync service.

Moreover, by getting a subscription you are supporting the development of the project as a whole, including the open source applications. Such support is needed in the long term to provide bug and security fixes, add new features, and provide support.

To backup notes is to choose a “sync target”, Joplin reaches a reasonable balance here, you can backup to OneDrive or Dropbox, the free storage quota should be more than enough for text notes.

If you do not mind these, the good:

  • Markdown: syntax is expressive and easy to learn, LaTex(KaTex) syntax support is also enabled by default
  • Free and open source
  • Full control of your data: you take the benefits
  • Support all major platforms
  • Import notes and resources from Evernote enex file
  • Fast full-text search
  • Offline access
  • Reliable sync mechanism
  • Reliable web clipper
  • E2EE encryption
  • Plugins: write your own!

And I do have several sincere wishes after switching from Evernote for more than a year:

  • Improvement on full-text search and tag management: thesaurus dictionary, natural language processing, neural network. I am just buzzword-ding, no idea how hard this would be
  • There are always contributors to the codebase
  • Get rid of Electron someday
  • Better sync target integration: faster sync speed, more precise descriptions about the limitations of each sync target
  • Emphasize the importance of sync remote target(backup and restore)

Joplin keeps my reading notes, article drafts, and web clips(4000+ notes and 30000+ resources, adding to up 5.4GB, or 3.8GB after zstd-compressed, mostly because of image resources I guess), it still provides accurate search results almost instantly, it worths recommending.