Is there a note-taking app that beats Vim, Markdown, and Git?

Sketchbook with watercolors and a cup of tea.Usually I avoid post titles / headlines in the form of a question, but I’m genuinely curious: Have you found a good note-taking app that’s ultimately better than just plain text files in Markdown with Vim (optionally synced with Git)?

I’ve tried lots of apps like Joplin, Obsidian, and services like HackMD, but tend to get frustrated with them quickly. It may just be my impatience, if I stuck with one longer than a week or two I’d get the hang of it. I learned Vim as a job requirement (long story) and had to stick out the learning curve.

I’d really love something better that adds saving files (images, PDFs, etc.) and has decent todo functionality. Open source and cross-platform is also strongly, strongly preferred. Ability to edit on the fly, e.g. from my phone or iPad, would be real nifty but not mandatory.

Export to a portable format is non-negotiable. I really liked BasKet once upon a time, but that project seems to have gone completely stale.

Recommendations for apps and note-taking techniques/strategies welcome!

8 thoughts on “Is there a note-taking app that beats Vim, Markdown, and Git?

    1. I’ll have to write about that soon. The tl;dr is that I worked for a company with a founder that had some interesting ideas about how one maintains a website in production. You could update the site if, and only if, you used Vim.

  1. I’ve used notecase pro years. allow basic formatting, pasting images etc, or can be used for text notes.

    Notes organized hierarchically in a tree. and you can create hyper links if you want. Cross platform.

    There is a free version, but I bought a life time license once I was happy with it to open some functionality.

  2. For my personal note taking needs, I use gitit, which is wiki backed by git and pandoc. The nice thing about this approach is that you can still use vim to edit files, but you can also use it’s web interface to view, search and edit them as well. And since it’s based on pandoc, it can handle not just markdown, but any plain text format accepted by pandoc (org mode, rst, asciidoc, latex, …). I use the web interface mostly for searching and reading (btw to improve presentation/readability, one can do a lot via custom css), while do most edits via vim.

    I keep my todo list there, but in just a set of org mode files which I edit via vim started by a script. Gitit doesn’t provide you with a nice todo list feature you may be looking for. And I’m not using it from a phone neither I store or reference lot of images in my pages, so I’m not sure whether this will be a good option for you.

  3. I use Joplin as my main note-taking app – fully-featured, Open Source, Markdown format, cross-platform with mobile apps, option to use an external editor. It’s an absolutely solid alternative to proprietary tools:

    https://joplinapp.org/

    Recently, though, I have started using Dendron, which is just a brilliant experience. It’s new and not yet fully-featured, but I am very excited about it. After a few minutes of watching the videos to get the concepts, creating and managing notes in Dendron is frictionless, in the way that the best tools are.

    https://www.dendron.so/

    The application is currently implemented as a Visual Studio Code plugin and a CLI, but the basic design is agnostic (Markdown in flat files, optional Git), and the maintainers will make a stand-alone desktop app. Notes on mobile is currently DIY, which is one of the reasons why I haven’t swotched from Joplin yet.

  4. I just switched from Evernote to vim and synching (last week before reading this) and I’m loving it.

    One trick I have for todo lists is I have a macro key in my programmable keyboard that types `[ ]`. This makes making little Todo lists super quick and easy. That combined with hitting `rx` in vim is all I need.

    I still need to figure out what to do for editing on my android phone. Hoping to check out some of the android markdown editors soon.

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