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Great note-taking apps for developers

ianfabs profile image Ian Fabs ・3 min read

(image credit vidsplay on stocksnap.io)

I've compiled this list of note-taking tools because I get disorganized very quickly, and there are way too many of these things. So I thought I'd help narrow it down.

Markdown based

These note apps are powered by markdown (and also all eerily similar to one another).

Notable

Platforms: Linux, Mac, Windows

Notable is a clean, focused, and powerful markdown-based note-taking tool. Notable allows you to organize your notes into tags and notebooks. You can also import existing markdown files, as well as sync your ~/.notable directory via any cloud-syncing service. Notable has plans to integrate directly with cloud storage solutions in the near future as well, making it a very promising tool.

Fun fact: Notable's Markdown editor is the same one vscode uses, which means you get multiple cursor support and more!

Boostnote

Platforms: Linux, Mac, Windows, iOS(planned)

Boostnote is fairly similar, if not a blatant facsimile of Notable, with a couple of key differences:

  • It's got more themes
  • It's keyboard shortcuts are... very different from what I'm used to.
  • It's taking things in a cloud-first direction Boostnote's similarity to Notable is not a bad thing, however personally I feel a little overwhelmed by it's interface. Boostnote also uses vscode for it's editor.

Bear

Platforms: iOS, Mac

Bear is probably one of my favorite apps of all time. It's simple, stylish, and very easy to use. It's my go-to app for taking notes on my phone. While I don't own a Mac (and hopefully never will), I still find lot's of times where bear has come in handy (for instance, Bear is where I wrote this article.)

Joplin

Platforms: Linux, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and as a CLI

Joplin has a ton of cool features. From it's browser extension to it's version control, Joplin has it all. While this might seem like probably the most versatile note-taking app in existence, that is actually Joplin's only downside. With it's intense feature-set and frankly verbose introductory example, it's easier than you'd think to get lost in Joplin's sauce. But if you're someone with laser-like focus all the time, and think you can handle what Joplin has to offer, then have at it!

Block based

This next set of note-taking apps are an order of magnitude more powerful than those mentioned previously. But with great power...

Notion

The team behind Notion describes it as

A tool that blends your everyday work apps into one. It's the all-in-one workspace for you and your team.

And while that quote may scratch Notion's surface, I feel that it is an injustice to the product. Notion is a powerful, logical, and multi-facet document editor and workspace. Notion let's you: write blogs, create kan-ban boards, manage your coursework for uni, document products, services, and tools with an expressive set of rich text features you won't find anywhere else, and - most importantly - take notes.

Personally, I use Notion for a lot of things:

  • Tracking coursework and grades
  • Documenting the tools and libraries I create
  • Starting a blog
  • At my startup for all internal documentation

I don't know how I documented work before Notion. Go ahead and give it a try! Sign up at https://notion.so/

Roam

Roam is interesting... At first, it feels kiiiiinda similar to Notion, but then you start using it. Roam is a tool for thought networking, a practice I - myself - am not very familiar with. I had to watch a YouTube video and even then I still felt as though there were gaps in my understanding of the tool. My first time reading through the Roam White Paper I felt so lost, and still do. But, regardless, Roam has helped me map out my thoughts more. I find ideas really flow when I'm writing in Roam.

My Top Picks

The three I use the most are:

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful day :-)

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