Microsoft Loop and Joplin - it looks very nice

Hello there!
I'd like to discuss the new Microsoft Loop web app with you.

It reminds me of something...

Yes, it's very similar to Joplin! :smiley:

What's the point you're trying to make?

I don't want to criticize Joplin. I use it daily and it's an excellent app! (And most important it's open source). However, I feel like some inspiration should be taken from this new "competitor". In other words, I just felt like compiling a wishlist of things I'd like to see in Joplin.
I'm not requesting any actual work to be done:

  1. I'm using the latest stable version of Joplin so I have no idea which is the current state of upstream
  2. I never developed in React, but I know how complex it is to make an app xD
  3. Many things discussed below have already been ruled out as too complex to make

Said that, here we go

Things Loop has I would like to have in Joplin:

  1. The design
    Using Loop just feels better than Joplin. I guess it's because of many small factors:
    • There is more space between things
    • The design is coherent across all menus and elements of the interface
    • I personally like M$' fluent design
    • The design/UX is more polished, as example there are animations
      Example: right-click menu
      image image

I guess this comes from Joplin being more oriented towards Markdown/keyboard experts. Loop makes it easy to change complex things like tables (I guess tables are a controversial topic of mardown!)

  1. Web app
    The app is web-based!

  2. Dividing notes in blocks
    Loop divides notes in block of text you can drag around (and comment and react on).

  3. Real time collaboration:
    You can share notes easily, you can edit other's notes in real-time (and comment and react)
    I personally wouldn't use it very much but transforming Joplin (especially with the Joplin Cloud) from a "solo" note-taking experience to a collaborative experience would probably make it usable in many more contexts!

  4. Mobile apps experience
    Try to edit a to-do list in Loop/ Google Keep/Tasks.
    Now try doing that again in Joplin.
    The UX is just worse.

All of this just coming from just testing this app for a few minutes.

The killer feature of this app is that a block of note (named a "component") can be shared in Office files and in Teams and be kept in sync. Obviously this does not apply to Joplin.

To make a fair comparison, this is the list of things that Joplin supports and Loop does not:

  1. Being open-source
  2. Being on-premise (the data model of Joplin is the best)
  3. e2e encrypt
  4. unlimited nesting of notebooks (only 5)
  5. tags
  6. markdown edit, so easy export import
    Loop supports almost 100% the same components of Markdown/Joplin (ordered list, check-list, bold italic etc), but it's not markdown editable! Something tells me markdown or a variation of it is used internally but hidden from the user.
  7. ... anything that comes to your mind (plugins!!)

In short-
Obviously Joplin is much better than Loop for me and has many killer features, but trying Loop the user experience of doing the basic stuff (writing and adding components) just feels more enjoyable because of the polished design.
I had to write my thoughts about this new product somewhere and I felt like this is the right place.

What do you think? Have you tried the app? How does it relate to Evernote? Can you think of a way of making the Joplin experience better without it being a development nightmare?

Looking forward to see your thoughts (or maybe just getting ignored)!


This paragraph-oriented approach is known from OneNote and was one of the things which drove me away from it and into the arms of Evernote and later (thank goodness!) Joplin :grin:

It's a funny concept that tasks and tags (no tags at all in Loop?) can only be assigned to these "blocks". And tasks aren't even a native feature of OneNote - you have to use its Outlook integration to make use of them. All this is far from "coherent", but I must admit that I'm a great fan of Microsofts ToDo app, and many of the things you're pointing out hold true for this app as well.

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Maybe this quote suits better what I tried to outline before.

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Well, paragraph-oriented is the only way to go in OneNote as it's actually a infinite canvas based note app.
Loop, however, has the normal "linear text" approach.

Easy to happen with features added after launch.

Ah, great relief to me as I find OneNote's free-form canvas utterly confusing although in a way it's a unique selling point.

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Did some research and found out that MS Loop tries to compete with Notion and the 'new' Evernote more or less in the same market segment: collaborative project management.

Joplin on the other hand is still designed primarily for personal information management. You could also read the first letter in PIM as "privacy" - and that's Joplin's unique selling point IMO (as it's open source and has proper E2EE).

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I love being able to Alt+Up and Alt+Down paragraphs/lines in Joplin - that keyboard control is what is the biggest selling point of Joplin for me (I know I could do it in VSCode, etc, but Joplin does have a better interface for note taking).

Commenting and reacting on something - that probably is something that is for a collaborative experience. If it is just you, then use a > quote or *italics* to indicate your own comment on your text. For reactions, you can add emojis :wink:

Otherwise, my experience of using Loop within MS Teams on desktop is... yes nice for quick collaborative note-taking as it can get embedded in a chat, but glitchy also, with my keystrokes getting eaten up (when I was using it yesterday). Hopefully it'll continue to get more stable.

The / slash commands on Loop would be real nice shortcuts to create templates for some things. Also good for those who aren't so fluent with Markdown. Discord is using slash commands more now too.

Yep i'm pretty sure Loop and many apps are not "keyboard-first". I should learn the shortcuts too!

I believe Joplin's command palette is pretty similar right? instead of / it's ctrl+shift+p

Ctrl+Shift+P on VS Code, it seems like it is Ctrl+P on Joplin. I actually don't use it very much, I have my main notebooks I am working on each week, and organise well in folders. I'll have to see if it helps my flow :slight_smile: Looking at it now though, I don't like that the title of the notebooks gets lowercased in the results :wink:

I do recommend getting to know the shortcuts generally :slight_smile: Just learn a couple, start using them a lot, then add a few more.

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