Local files without hidden storage

This looks like a fine app.

But, private storage structure and private synchronization are both danger signs and inconvenient for my usage patterns. You don’t have to change a thing; it’s your product and I have lots of alternatives. It just seems like you’ve done a good job.

On my desktop computers, I use the file system for storage. Your unorthodox location that supports your database of notebooks is a non-starter. Nearly all apps with their own private model of storage structures risk users’ data (see how many posts about people losing data? --you can say it’s their fault for misusing the app, but it’s the author’s fault for writing an app with side effects). I also use markdown for printed documents and pdf reports as parts of larger projects. Your private storage model would make me split up the projects for reasons that don’t seem essential.

Other than preference (each to our own) I keep readme.md and other documentation for git projects in the repo and will edit the markdown files in the working directory, like any other source file. This seems like a very reasonable thing to do. To use Joplin for the markdown files, I would need to copy them into “notebooks” and then back to the repo directories. This is very awkward.

I understand that you don’t want to be tied to proprietary storage/syncing, but if a user has already chosen one that you deem popular/important enough to support then Joplin could be consistent with that model. Users who want to be untethered to such models (very understandable) could use your private model, which is a good option. Obviously, Evernote was its own overpriced, poorly designed world unto itself and you are miles from that. (Does anyone even use Evernote any more?)

I suspect you think that the approach you’ve taken is the only way to support IOS or Android. While you’ve chosen a valid way to do so, it is by no means the required or only way. For example, the very fine app 1Write asks the user to select specific folders to sync and syncs only those–syncing an entire Dropbox account would be crazy. Your approach is closer to SimpleNote or Bear (I am not hip enough for Bear, but I loved SimpleNote in its day–now it’s been superceded).

I think you’d open up Joplin as more of a document editor and less of a note taker if you would support the local file system as an alternative to your notebooks database.

Of course: Do as you feel you must: you’ve done a good job.


I'm sorry, but I had to reply to this topic. Especially since most of it makes no sense.

There are no side effects. Please try to understand what 2-way sync means.

Joplin is not a markdown editor, but a note-taking application with markdown support. Your use case has nothing to do with Joplin.

I have no idea what you are trying to say. Joplin does not have to sync. If you want to sync, you can use WebDAV, Dropbox, Nextcloud, or a local filesystem.

You want to use Joplin to edit your local files. Joplin wants to be a note taking application. You are not supposed to touch any of the files that Joplin creates - neither locally nor on the sync target.
Also, as mentioned earlier, Joplin is not a markdown editor.

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I pointed out you can do your thing. I acknowledged the use case of note-taking for 1Write, Bear, Joplin, and the horrid Evernote (that at least might be something we agree on), etc. My comments make a lot of sense for my use case. But, you seem unable to acknowledge that there could be another use case that you don’t also have.

Nothing you are saying makes any sense:

You say, “ Joplin does not have to sync.” Syncing is pretty fundamental to note-taking. What good would a single device note-taking app be? So little good that all note-taking apps that are viable sync. The promotion on web site says, “…with synchronisation capabilities.” Perhaps its beyond your limited sense that objects in the file system can be synchronized and that IOS and Android both have full file systems, though somewhat hidden from users. Further, that Joplin desktop has files, but puts them in a fairly obscure directory to emphasize notebooks that can be synchronized as a unit instead. And there are quite a few posts of from users who misunderstood how Joplin syncs with Dropbox.

Additional description on the web site notes, “The notes are in Markdown format.” And that’s a darn good choice over anything proprietary. So, I guess it must be some sort of markdown editor or it couldn’t use markdown format.

You might have served your purpose—whatever it might have been—to point out, “While Joplin uses markdown and can synchronize with several different server technologies, Joplin is not about documents—it’s about notes. You (referring to me) would be better off with some of the document-oriented markdown editors. Despite sharing a few features with a markdown editor, Joplin is optimizing for the note-taking use case and that’s where it will continue to focus.” But, you got something off your chest that made you feel smart. Must have felt good.

You fully earned this reply for your rudeness. Maybe after a stiff drink or two you’ll start making sense again.

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Ok, now read my comments as they are - without trying to interpret something that isn't there.

My delivery is usually blunt, thus is often perceived as harsh, arrogant, or even hostile. I can live with that. Since I don't take anything personally, unless one personally attacks me, you can write whatever you want. You won't rattle my cage.

And yes, a drink is a great idea. I think I start with a nice glass of red wine and have a scotch a bit later.

@lewisl can you describe your use case? What features are you looking for in an app like Joplin?

I understand you have markdown files in various folders on your hard disk and want to keep them there. What does your ideal app do with them?


My use case is different and might not be a focus for Joplin, which looks great—and that’s ok.

It’s ok if Joplin would rather focus on notetaking.

My use case is long-ish (5-10 page) documents used as documentation for code projects and, separately, for general writing.

The differences from Joplin are:

You are barking to the wrong tree.

Try to answer your question with mind you are using Evernote.
Is Evernote able to edit your local files?
Is Evernote able to sync with your file repository?

Simply said, Joplin is Evernote replacement. Use it the same way.

Take a chill pill guys. I am not defending Evernote in any way. I am not assaulting your choice of preferred product. Your dignity remains intact.

Joplin is a fine product. I used the trial a little bit. It has the absolute best synchronized edit and preview dual view of any markdown product. Fast, smooth, and always aligned. No other product gets even close. They’re all herky-jerky and slow or seriously misaligned. There is good software craftsmanship here.

Put the markdown in a SQLite text field approach won’t work for me, but it’s ok for a note-taking app. There remains a problem with import not bringing along locally linked images (this might be because I use html tags rather than markdown image links).

I explored if the product could be applied to a different but slightly related use case. Software is versatile, generally. It’s clear you don’t welcome the inquiry. There are a lot of note-taking apps. There are not so many focused markdown document editors (3 decent ones). I’ll leave you to your angry seclusion and whatever satisfaction that gives you.

You again didn’t understand.

It’s not about defending Evernote.
A lot of people over here comparing Evernote with Joplin and it’s fine
as Joplin target is to be Evernote alternative.

And if the people want to switch and would like to have some Evernote feature available in Joplin too, we are discussing how much such feature is demanded and when it could be implemented.

But you are comparing Joplin with markdown editor of your local .md files.

You expect boat driving on rails or milk with taste of whiskey.
Or Evernote-like application editing your local .md files.

And really don’t understand why.
Search for markdown editor and you will be happy.

You have misinterpreted again. I don’t want anything like Evernote. I only mentioned it because Joplin compares so favorably to it.

I just said that I understand Joplin is for note-taking and isn’t appropriate for markdown documents. That’s a valid decision. Products should focus; that helps make a better product.

I won’t be replying. Yours is a pretty hostile community with dubious reading comprehension. You have chosen to support a really good product, though.

Let’s drop it.

I have only recently learned of Joplin thanks to it being mentioned on HN and I certainly came looking here for a solid note taking app, after trying too many to mention over the years. The two top level features that attracted me were:

  • The claim that “The notes are in Markdown format.” including supporting GitHub variant. After ditching other note apps and resorting back to using a plain file editor (in this case Sublime) I also decided to use Markdown files for taking notes.
  • Ability to tag and search across the notes.

I also develop for a living and have dozens of git repos on my local drive(s), each with their own docs or howto folders with numerous markdown files versioned and managed by git and in turn GitHub.

Upon first trying Joplin and seeing what an excellent piece of work it is, I immediately thought of the same use case as @lewisl where I would like to use Joplin for its excellent display, searching and tagging ability, but optionally maintain a link to imported MD files. That way if I check out a later version of a repo, I would see Joplin reflect and search on the latest version of those MD files. Conversely, it would certainly also be nice to stay in the same app, Joplin, and push edits the other way.

I’m somewhat reticent to continue this thread because I agree with @lewisl upon first reading, there seems to be almost hostile resistance here to anything outside of the original note taking origins. As said, Joplin is an excellent piece of work and it’s choices continue to be respected, but it easy from my pov that it could also be much more, since it does the other things so well. For the record, personally the Evernote heritage doesn’t even register as a plus for me. It was proprietary, cloud based and I couldn’t trust my notes to be secure, so it lasted about 10 minutes on my machine before I moved on.


I didn’t read the complete thread but it sounds like what you want is to have the notes on your filesystem, as editable text files.

In fact Joplin already more or less supports this workflow via the external editing feature: open Joplin, navigate to your note, then press Ctrl+E to open it in your text editor.

Even if the notes were plain text files, the workflow would be the similar: open a file explorer, navigate to your note file, and open it in your text editor. It’s just done with a different UI.

Or do you have something else in mind?

This would do it if it picks up images — though that doesn’t matter for editing but does matter for exports.

Do you think export with image links would work with external files?

Thanks for a helpful product usage reply.

  • Lewis

If you export as Markdown it will link the attachments correctly. So for example if you open the Markdown file in an editor like Typora you’ll see the images.

It’s a good point to make: A note-taking application is different from a markdown editor on a philosophical level. But the resulting products are very similar. Compare Typora to Joplin, there’s a huge overlap in functionality. It’s only natural to ask if Joplin could work on the local filesystem, imho.


Thank you for your point.

@hipitihop thanks for your notes. Please don’t feel reticent, I was truly interested in the alternative use cases and how they might work, especially in the area you and lewis1 are discussing.

I’m so glad to hear that. I’m also more then happy to be a guinea pig for testing builds/branches and generally contributing, although as most people I have too many projects and fixed amount of time.

This exactly I had to grasp, within 15 minutes of the first impression of Joplin.

Old me used to look for a site or an app to do things and I used anything that looked good. After a couple of years I became more critical. Upon reading I realised I needed an exit strategy. Which I didnt had, when I started with Evernote.
Platforms, cloud solutions and even local apps which hold everything in a custom database caused problems when switching.

So I decided more or less for my personal life: I can use any software as long it produces also csv, pdf, jpg, md, gpx etc. And I save things in multiple formats.
So in the long run I can always find a program to read or edit it.

Also I have a certain tree structure for storage of my files and I like to work and save in the folder where the files belong.

With Joplin I hesitated at first, because it isnt a Markdown Editor that can read/write local files , so I cant work in the folders I have already in use. So it messes a bit with my workflow.
Also, it stores everything in a database.

After testing I got satisfied because Joplin can bulk export to *.md, so preserving long-term availability. And my notebook/subnotebook structure mimics my tree structure a bit.
But after I’m done with writing a note, I also save it to the corresponding folder as a pdf.

Anyway, just my two cents after reading this thread and for me Joplin is the note taking app for a lot of things. Thanks.