Why I am working on Your Note

which might look like yet another note-taking app

Screenshot of Your Note’s web version

A little backstory before we get into the “why” — I have been taking notes for as long as I started using computers. In fact, the first software that I install on a new PC would be a way to take notes.

That being said, I have used a lot of note-taking software over the years. First, it was OneNote, then CintaNotes, then CherryTree, then SimpleNote, then Apple Notes, then my own Sublime Notebook, then Notion and currently Evernote.

You might be wondering why did I switch through so many apps if note-taking is so important to me. What about the notes that can’t be exported and imported?

Yes, I did lose lots of notes and research in the process. But that couldn’t have been avoided. Here’s why.

  1. The majority of times I switched from one app to another, it was because I had no choice otherwise. CintaNotes was Windows-only, OneNote wasn’t available on Linux, CherryTree wasn’t available on Mac, SublimeNotebook wasn’t available on mobile and Apple Notes meant staying in the Apple ecosystem.
  2. The other times I switched was because my needs outgrew the app or I just didn’t like the app anymore. For example, SimpleNote was too basic, OneNote was too bloated and Notion was too much to use for me.

I am currently using Evernote (let’s call it ‘X’ since the next section is common for most note-taking apps) as my note-taking solution and it’s doing great so far but I fear a couple of things.

  1. What happens if I don’t like X anymore? What if they close down? Will I be able to switch to another note app without losing my notes either partially or completely?
  2. How can I be sure about my personal data with X? How do I make sure that my data is private and safe with them?

Answering the first question, this can be solved if X exports data in an easy to process open format like markdown. But most apps don’t do that. They either have a proprietary format of export or they export HTML files that are worthless for manual note-taking.

And answering the second question, that can only be made sure if I use my own server or storage for storing data, have decent backups and have access to app’s source code myself.

Say hello to Your Note

This is where Your Note comes in. Your Note is a note-taking app built on Blockstack that stores your data on your own Gaia hub (your own storage basically) and stores it in plain markdown format that is easy to read and edit (see below for how it looks like).

The format Your Note uses to saves and exports data

And since it uses Blockstack under the hood, you can be sure about a few things that come by default with each Blockstack application.

  1. Security — The data is stored only with you.
  2. Privacy — The data is always encrypted with the private keys that you and only you have access to.
  3. Decentralization — You can choose where you want to store your data.

You can also export from Your Note and you will get your notes and notebooks in a neatly organized zip file. Here is how an export will look like with .md files containing data as in the snippet above.

- Work
- Clients list.md
- Company Details.md
- Project ideas.md
- Personal
- November expenses 2018.md
- Goals.md
- Things to achieve this year.md
- Travel
- Bali.md
- Seoul.md
- ....

Assuring, right? This means a few things.

  1. Since you are using Your Note to store data on your own hub and since Your Note stores data in an easy to process format (markdown), it means that your data will still be perfectly legible even if the developer (me) takes the app down (not saying I would do that :-P).
  2. You can be super sure that your data is safe and private since you are the one storing it. I also plan to make an automatic backup feature so that your data can be backed up to a second storage provider of your choice, periodically, in case you want to add an extra layer of surety.
  3. If you start to hate Your Note while using it, you can export your data in the awesome markdown format and edit it with any text editor. You can also use SublimeNotebook or VSCodeNotebook for it since they are simple, open-source and get the job done.

Given all these points, you can be sure that the note you take in 2018 will still be perfectly accessible in 2028, no matter what happens. That’s the power of a simple note-taking format (markdown), of open source and of users owning their data. And I want to bring this power to myself and other people. That’s why I am working on this project.

If you are convinced, you can try Your Note on yournote.app (it’s free). Do expect some bugs and missing features because it is still early days for the app (full roadmap on WIP).

The source code will be released on GitHub in a few days. Till then, you can follow @yournoteapp on Twitter to stay updated on the project. Feel free to send any feedback either through Twitter or hey@yournote.app.

If you are interested in this project, please support me by clapping on this article. Small things like this mean a lot accumulatively.