Notes taking application

Taking notes

As a tech-enthousiast and developper, I’ve always took a lot of notes : Code snippets, install recipes, config files, ideas…​

For a long time, I’ve used a simple text editor (such as gedit or atom with Linux or notepad++ when using Windows), and saved my notes as plain-text files, each file with a particular subject.

Since recently shared on multiple devices using Dropbox, this solution is quite limited :

  • Needs to keep files organized

  • Diffucult to search

  • No editing capabilities

  • Linux / Windows end-of-line problems

Looking for a solution

My needs

My wish list for the best solution :

  • Light and simple software : A browser app might be the best

  • Always available : Online sync, non-proprietary

  • Cross-system : Linux and Windows must be supported

  • Company-proxy-proof : Sync must be possible though Company proxies

  • Formatting capabilities : Markdown or, better, Asciidoc. Wysiyg is evil.

  • Secure and self-hosted : Better to own my data

A quite nice start point is Alternativeto.

Non selected solutions

Most of the leaders (Evernote, Google Keep, One Note) have major issues to me :

  • Not Open-source.

  • Cannot be self hosted.

  • Not free. Most of them have freemium plans but with serious limitations.

  • Data is hold by the editor.

  • Formatting : Most of them use a Wysiwyg system.

  • Proprietary and no native Linux app most of the time.

Tested Apps

I’ve tested Laverna and Joplin for a few weeks, in multiple situations and using different OS.


Laverna was my first pick.

Laverna seems to be the perfect online notes taking app :

  • Open-source and free

  • Online app, can be self-hosted

  • Native app available for Linux, Windows, MacOS

  • Markdown support

Unfortunatly, a few trouble stop me from using Laverna :

  • Search is broken

  • Navigate between notes is painful and buggy

  • Native app have major issues, espacially regarding syncing (Dropbox)

  • Laverna development seems quite really quiet since months

Sadly, Laverna seems not usable as an everyday notes taking app.

Figure 1. Laverna screenshot


A coworker told me about Joplin as this app seems to be what I’m looking for.

Joplin has no online app, but :

  • It’s Open-source and free

  • Is still under development

  • Native app available for Linux, Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS

  • Markdown support

  • Searching works quite well

  • Notes tag support

  • Sync works well with Dropbox

I’ve imported my notes from Laverna with a few issues :

  • All > and < characters were transformed as > and <…​

  • Notes titles were lost

Figure 2. Laverna screenshot

Final choice : Joplin

Nowadays I’m using Joplin accross all my computers, including at work. I’m quite satisfied with this note taking app. Only one regret from Laverna : Online app was great ; you’ll have to install Joplin to every computer that you’re using. In another hand : It maybe mote secure.

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