Note taking

From this thread: Tinderbox users?
this quote…

Why is it not “a great note taking app”? I use it to take notes every. single. day. And yes, I write Markdown in it, every day.


Well that was me, so I should clarify.

Right now, DTPO is by far the best note repository (assuming you don’t prefer Tinderbox, of course). But DTPO is not a very friendly note taking app because, frankly, it’s UI/UX feels clunky and out of date.

For example, there’s no menu button to create a new Markdown document. I had to create a custom keyboard shortcut for that. I can use the Sorter’s note function, but it’s stuck to the Sorter and isn’t very pretty.

I’d rather take notes in Bear and export to DTPO later. Better yet, if DTPO had a text rendering engine that would allow it to look like Bear, that would be the best of both worlds.

Could I use DTPO for note taking? Yes, but I choose not to because the experience simply isn’t very good to other note taking apps.

“pretty” does not make an app more powerful or functional.

Currently, no but there are also ways you can add your own, and has been covered in the Forums before (More Markdown Support)

If the Sorter isn’t running, a Take Note window will appear when you use Tools > Take Note.

Beyond cosmetics, are there functional issues that keep DEVONthink form being an effective note-taking app? (And again, I ask as someone who uses it every day - especially with Markdown but also tons of plain text too.)

Oh but it does. Design and UX are CRUCIAL to an app’s power and functionality. I don’t care how well an app is programmed and put together–if I can’t use it, preferably intuitively, then it really isn’t all that powerful or functional–not on a practical level anyway.

I can’t separate “cosmetics” from “functionality” in certain instances. For example, does Bear’s “pretty” Markdown syntax “highlighting” represent a “cosmetic” or “functional” feature? For me, it’s both. I prefer taking notes in Bear precisely because I can immediately see how my text is formatted and organized. Plain text or non-syntax highlighted/previewed Markdown doesn’t provide the same level of functionality, even though you could argue it’s just a merely cosmetic difference.

But ignoring the appearance, the thing that bugs me most is that if I want the Sorter running (and I do), I can’t also just get a new note in that dark, transparent floating window style. That alone would be a nice addition. The important part is that the Take Note window be available from anywhere in the system with a hot key, like the Sorter.

This is a subjective term. What you find intuitive may be obtuse to someone else.

A good case in point. No knock on Bear’s developers but I hate seeing the formatting applied along side the Markdown characters. I would prefer, and find it more intuitive, to have a preview pane and a code pane (a lá Macdown). Does that mean Bear isn’t powerful or functional for me? No. It just means I don’t prefer to use it because of this very reason.

And the comment on the availability of the Take Note window is noted (and I agree).

I don’t mind a hint of syntax highlighting or inline formatting when viewing the bare markdown. I don’t need my H1s to be supersized when viewing the raw markdown, but it is nice to have some additional visual indication that it is heading tag (or a link, or bold, or emphasis, or block quote etc). The main reason I like it is that it helps me pick up on little syntax errors that might interfere with formatting. If I enter in some markdown and a visual indicator of the syntax is absent, I can immediately corrected, rather than having to switch to a preview mode just to see I should have used two asterisks instead of 1, or that I needed an extra line break, or that there was a hidden line break that interrupted a contiguous block quote, etc.

Not a dealbreaker (though full disclosure, I don’t write notes, markdown or otherwise, directly in DTPO or DTTG), but a subtle indication that the syntax is correct does help a fair bit.

Where do you write your notes?

Also, I agree largely with what you said about syntax highlighting. I am almost as happy in Ulysses or Drafts, neither of which have the same level of visual indicators as Bear.

I write most of my notes in iaWriter on Mac and iOS, and sometimes 1Writer depending on my mood.