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Markdown? Can we get with the times?

I've been on the hunt for a secure, self-hosted note taking solution for nearly a month. I've tried dozens of solutions.
The problem? They're all markdown.
Sorry, I'm not going to type dash, square bracket, space, square bracket, item, for each of the 47 things on my grocery list, and then go replace the space with an "x" every time I check something off my list.
I honestly can't think of a more clumsy and time-wasting method.

I feel like maybe I'm not understanding something fully, or I'm missing something?
Virtually every self-hosted solution that I try is using markdown and I just can't get on board with it.

I suppose my main problem is with checklists, as general note taking is fine with markdown.
So, as a feature request, is it possible to handle checkboxes in a different way?

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This button (in the top right of the application) toggles the WYSIWYG editor which is what you want. It still uses markdown in the background so you won't get a Microsoft word experience but it will save you the burden of typing [].

I think you are because even in the markdown mode you can just click on checkboxes in the viewer to toggle them (maybe you have the viewer disabled?).

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Yes, I'd say don't use a note taking app for to-do lists. :laughing: I'm glad that Joplin has a little bit of checklist/todo functionality, but it's just not the main focus of the app.

That said, have you tried @CalebJohn 's rich markdown? It lets you check and uncheck boxes using ctrl-click. It can also put a strikethrough on the checked items.

Even in the MD editor there is a button to add a todo item. and if you press enter it creates a new todo on the next line. So really, it's not so bad considering it's a note taking app.

Welcome to Joplin!

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It is however practical to note tasks on the fly when writing notes :wink:

Sure. That's why I think the built in feature is good enough. But if I was actually hoping to manage my work, I'd want all my todos in an app that was really designed for handling todos.

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Yes I understand, it was to tease :wink: . That said, I think it would be really useful to increase Joplin's task management capabilities because many users work by project and being able to manage tasks at the same time as projects is very useful.

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Yes, no doubt. But watching the debate over what a note taking app should be, I can't imagine how many opinions there would be over real todo features!


Yes, it is sure that the debate could be long but deserves to take place. Nevertheless, "small" things would already largely improve the daily life. As I wrote here we can already do a lot of things with plugins. However, it could be interesting to have a permanent task panel that allows to visualize them quickly...
But there are already so many things to develop :wink:


Google Keep does note taking and lists in the same app and does it brilliantly.
So, I respectfully disagree. It's proven that both belong together.

The suggestions offered here don't apply to the mobile versions of the app, so they are not really of much help in my use case.

As an electrician, I rarely work in front of a computer. I use Keep every day for keeping track of materials I need for jobs, photos of work sites, measurements, ect., also, collaborative grocery lists with the family.
We all use mobile devices to keep organized.

Joplin may not be the application that's best suited for needs, and that's fine. With the popularity and development group I figured it'd be a good place to start with making some suggestions.

I'd really like to see an open source, self-hosted equivalent to Google Keep, but I truly feel that the cumbersome markdown format will be the reason this will never occur.

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Hi @Daxton

Indeed the mobile use is more limiting (notably because of the plugins) but largely sufficient as far as I am concerned. I don't work on mobile, I just take a note or task on the fly from time to time.

As someone who struggled with some features when I first started using Joplin, this one confuses me a bit. In my opinion, markdown is "with the times". Why do you believe it is not?

I always disliked programs like MS Word and LibreOffice Writer for this purpose. Not that those softwares are bad, but they are in a format that is not viewable in any editor of my choosing, or that might be available. That said, I also disliked plain text because it was hard to make any sort of structure to the document. This is how I cam e to markdown.

From there, I tried a lot of solutions, easily 25+ of them. Today, Joplin remains one of them. I believe the markdown support within Joplin is great, so much I place its feature set above many other dedicated markdown editors. The main distinction with Joplin is the fact that it uses a database to store the notes vs individual md files. [this is something I am starting in a new thread] You can however export your documents when they are needed in md and pdf formats. HTML is also available if you simply need it to display in HTML, but is not so useful in actual web design if you are trying to incorporate it.


Its 'proven' they belong together insofar a user doesnt need todo features outside jotting them down and ticking them of. Google Keep is 'awesome' if this is your mileage and you just need hierarchical lists. Keep / Notes / List / Item

A lot of to do apps handle items at an atomic level, each capable of assigning users, progress, topic-labels and even note-attachements. Thats why Whitewall says "cant imagine how many opinions there would be over real todo features" I guess.

So I think "notes with tasks" is something completely different from "tasks with notes".

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Totally agree. For me a task is short and precise, with an action verb. If I need context, it is in a note and the task contains a link to that note.

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Right. I'm constantly surprised at how many app use markdown (even this forum does!). It's a touch wonky, I'll admit. And the checklist feature is perhaps the wonkiest bit. I probably wouldn't use it if I wasn't on desktop using the Rich Markdown plugin that lets me ctrl click to check. (I never use the rendered markdown view)

would asciidoc be a better markup language?

After the messy Evernote, markdown was decidedly a breath of fresh air. I have total control over my notes plus they can be made to look good, and the format is future proof.

You can even use another format but then you'd need an external viewer to render them correctly.


There are some of us — I'm not sure how many — who came to Joplin specifically because it used Markdown.

My key desire for the notes I keep in Joplin is that they will be readable to me for decades, give-or-take-regardless of technology changes. Markdown supports that about as well as anything can, while allowing some of the formatting that I want.


Absolutely. Markdown is everywhere! Github, Wiki, Discourse,... Being able to seamlessly copy and paste content from one medium to another and keep the formatting for whichever application is just brilliant.

I don't see any real alternative right now. Maybe reStructuredText, which is also quite powerful but just not as comfortable to use and easy to read.

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I think franzperdido hit the nail on the head (Post 17). I see it as a venn diagram. We have the circle of people who want secure notes, another circle for those who like Markdown for the reasons he stated, and a third circle for those who want to use Markdown in a notes program rather than in a Markdown document editor (there are plenty of those). That tiny intersection is the market for Joplin.

I think the OP is stating, in effect, why is Joplin aimed at such a tiny market? 99%+ of the world's user base left behind the idea of remembering and typing format codes back in 1995 when the world stopped using Wordperfect for DOS and that company went into oblivion.

I see it as an app architecture question: does a product (and company) reach for a broad market, or try to be the best at a tiny niche? The OP asked a fair question. I'm very interested in the thinking and vision of the Joplin management.

What? No, I think you're completely missing the mark there. Sure you can type code like the 90s, but there are numerous tools to do that for you. Joplin's own WYSIWYG editor is one of them, or use any external editor.

Additionally, you can either type Ctrl-B etc for bold, or use the icons in the menu. Sure it's not as elaborate as Word, but to create a Word document, you should use, you know, Word.

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