Notion is like an affair, Joplin is suitable for a lifetime

notion is like an affair, Joplin is suitable for a lifetime

I previously posted on the forum to promote the block of notion, but after using it for a few days, I noticed that the notion was not as amazing as I thought.

So, I used a proper (or maybe) metaphor: notion is like an affair, full of freshness is only suitable for one-night stand, not suitable for life; the beauty of Joplin is only after you use other note-taking software, go back and discover its uniqueness

Maybe it ’s not suitable, I mean, after comparing, I can know more clearly what I want


To use your metaphore, for me Joplin seems to be the affair and Zim the lifetime relationship.

My Zim has been there for decades and I have countless notes in it. It has its shortcomings (sync, mobiel clients) and that is why I put so much effort in experimenting with other tools like Joplin. But Joplin still feels like an affair… It’s nice and promising, actively maintained, yet its dependency on external frameworks is worrying.

When I checkout Joplin from git and install it, there are currently almost 40.000 (!) files involved. Npm, react, electron, … and all of these keep changing frequently beyond our control. Remember that a year ago we could open Joplin from the system tray with one click? Now we must use a right-click menu because the framework decided to change that and there is no way for us to get the original behaviour back. Show a password while typing it? Sorry the framework does not want do this.

Now I’m not, repeat not, saying that Joplin is bad and that Xxx (fill in your favourite tool) is good – there are good reasons why I keep on looking for a Zim replacement. It is just that Joplin feels so… vulnerable.

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I think that’s true of many projects to be honest. Any software that gets abandoned is likely to stop working on Linux at some point, very quickly on macOS, and will probably only keep working in Windows.

Joplin is being actively developed and there’s nothing impossible about upgrading Electron or React Native, as it’s been done many times over the previous years. It’s getting easier for React Native as they’ve cleaned up the core, and I’m hoping Electron is getting more stable too (though the upgrade from 4 to 7 was a mess). There are very large companies that depend on these frameworks, so you can be sure nothing too radical will happen with them.

Ah, metaphors...

And FOSS is like a dating app. You can find and meet lots of different software until you find the one that just "seems right". Then you can "hook up" for a long relationship. This metaphor also extends to many "I've met another who just understands me better" situations...

Closed source, paid for software then becomes the relationship that you've invested so much into that, even though you have both changed and no longer share the same ideals, you feel you have to carry on regardless. Often arguing, often falling out, only staying together because of the proprietory data formats. :slight_smile:

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I agree with @laurent. Although, if Electron and React were to go in a direction that makes neither one viable, like many other projects, he could always move on to a different framework, port over the current implementation, and release a rewrite. For many of these small, open-source projects, that’s a very common practice.

if Electron and React were to go in a direction that makes neither one viable, like many other projects, he could always move on to a different framework, port over the current implementation, and release a rewrite.

I think you underestimate the entanglement in a particular framework. If that ‘different framework’ is not very much similar to Electron and React you’d likely end up with a total rewrite from scratch.

Developers that ‘just needed to move on’ from say GTK2 to GTK3 (Qt4 to Qt5, …) can tell interesting (horror) stories. Even something trivial as moving from 16bits to 32bits (and to 64bits) was painful.

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I don’t underestimate the trouble behind it. I was just making a statement that there are always options, even if they are nightmarish to do, like with the ‘horror’ stories you referred to below that.

The fact that Flash is being completely made obsolete this year is one such situation. Quite a bit of content out there could possibly be lost forever for that reason. But, I do see your view too.

React is a Facebook project and, with how technology is constantly changing, especially web technologies, much of what works now with Joplin could be forever broken upon a new release of any one of the frameworks it’s built on top of. It’s also something I’ve only used for a short amount of time, so it is always possible that the app may not stand the test of time or even possibly relevant the moment another app comes on the scene that offers better features or has improvements that users greatly need / want. Time will tell.

I think this kind of catastrophic scenario can only happen if an app becomes completely discontinued, and no-one is able to upgrade it anymore. That happens, but currently the project is active and healthy and I plan to continue improving it for quite some time. I personally use it and there’s no alternative I like, so I’ve got a strong incentive to keep it working. There’s also more and more contributors familiar with the code base, which reduces the bus factor.

Also note that there’s the core functionalities of Joplin, like synchronisation, database, encryption, business logic, etc. are framework agnostics (the same code is shared by all the clients), so while creating a full fledge client would be hard, it’s not impossible as you wouldn’t have to re-implement the trickiest parts of the code base. I remember I was surprised how quickly I got a desktop version running, simply by re-using the core lib and mobile reducers.


I’ve used Joplin since a year ago. Look back that time, Joplin is very easy to use, lightweight with some limited advanced feature. But now, Joplin is more complex with advanced plugins that is rarely use by normal user.
I 'm using Joplin on Linux, the latest version is very slow, require 2 steps to open from system tray… in my opinion, Joplin is not need to use a big framework (may be my word is wrong) to proccess markdown syntax in text files and its database. It seems imposible to browse/search/view/edit my notes with a text editor.
Joplin on Android is freezing when scroll a large of text in a big note, very hard to moving around…
I’m just a user, I known this post is not for complaining or report something wrong, but I’m hoping Joplin will lighter, simpler and user friendly on multi platform.
P/S: Have you ever take a look on VNote?

I am not a programmer and I do not understand the IT industry.
I use Joplin to record what I read and think and save web content. Joplin is my note-taking software.

Joplin’s complexity is relative.
As a user who just records and organizes notes, Joplin is very easy to use, features clear logic, and powerful browser plugins.

Since it’s complicated to simply mention advanced plugins, I assume you are referring to Web Clipper or other features?

Joplin’s Web Clipper is the only plug-in that meets my needs in the same type of note software. Joplin’s Web Clipper logic is very simple, allowing users to save web pages according to their own ideas and web page structure.
The web page is complicated. Sometimes I just want to save the articles in the web page. Sometimes I want to save the entire web page for download, including its style.
This is exactly the advantage of Joplin, this way makes Joplin stand out in the competition of the same type of note software.
I believe that users may be confused when they see Web Clipper for the first time, but as long as they take a moment to read the Web Clipper document in Notebook> Welcome> Tips and see how the webpage saved by different buttons is, they can understand the function of Web Clipper.
Other Web Clipper can simply save the entire webpage, but often have compatibility issues.
Joplin can provide a variety of choices based on the complexity of the web page, which is a differentiated performance.

So I disagree with you about the fact that as the product iterates, Joplin becomes complicated and makes it difficult for the normal user to use.
After all, Joplin is still growing and its functions are improving.
If you want to be lightweight and concise, there are many similar note-taking software on the market, but Joplin can bring experiences that other note-taking software cannot.

I don’t understand software technology, so I can’t share ideas about frameworks.
I use Joplin in Windows 10, the experience is very smooth, without any stutter, the performance is very good.
Since I set up Joplin to start automatically at boot, I skipped the cold boot loading.
I hope that the performance of Web Clipper will be faster (to save web pages faster by temporarily occupying performance resources. For example, when a user needs to save a web page, Joplin makes the Web Clipper task faster by requesting higher resources from the CPU and RAM.
Complete it. This passage may not help you much.

I disagree with the idea that you want Joplin will lighter, simpler.
Because there are many simple and concise note-taking software, such as Typora and Notepad ++ (Win only), Typora is very lightweight and concise, which completely meets your needs.
Joplin will not be the second Typora, it must become itself, a note-taking software that can provide a unique experience.
That’s why I always wanted Laurent to think independently about what Joplin should be.

I think there are only two types of note software on the market: Markdown’s linear editing and Notion’s block editing.
Joplin is the only note-taking software in the category of linear editing notes software that can meet my needs. The features of Joplin form my own irreplaceable advantages. I cannot leave the design of Joplin’s Web Clipper and functional logic. (Many note-taking software have similar designs.
, But they do not have diversified cloud synchronization settings, powerful customization features, and they do not provide a Portable version, so Joplin is unique in experience)

I know VNote. In fact, I have used almost all note-taking software on the market, including the list of editors on the Markdown website.
I think the idea of ​​merging VNote’s sidebar up and down is very good (Notebook and Note are distributed up and down), but the overall UI of VNote makes me think that it is more complicated than Joplin. I do n’t need many features of the VNote interface. I feel VNote is very bloated.

Joplin has omitted a lot of trouble. I use the Portable version. The first time I start Joplin, it will automatically generate a user database in the current directory and then help me manage notes automatically.
I don’t need to remember where my notes will be saved and which folder will be opened next time to import my notes.
Joplin’s feeling of All in one makes me just focus on recording, organizing and saving web pages. I feel that Joplin is like a notekeeper, helping me reduce unnecessary movements and troubles, and allowing me to concentrate on taking notes.
VNote provides another kind of note-taking software. You know, the functions of many note-taking software are basically the same. The difference between all note-taking software lies in how to combine and present functions, and attract users through the differentiation of user experience.
The left and right panel design of VNote is very good. It shows the panel that the user needs as much as possible through the combination of up and down, but the right panel is completely unnecessary for me, and of course it can be closed.

Because I used to try all the note-taking software for a while in order to find the note-taking software I wanted.
Exposure to many note-taking softwares made me slowly start to know what I wanted. Later, I discovered that Joplin was the only note-taking software that made me want to use ideas, so I deleted other note-taking software.

I currently use Joplin as my only note-taking software, but I do n’t like the separate interface of editing and previewing, so I will use the external editor function (this feature is great! It allows you to use Joplin to manage notes, and you can also write notes on other your favorite editors) to write notes on Typora.


Just two types? I'm not so sure about it. Besides good old pencil & paper I still use / may use again:

  • A bunch of TiddlyWikis (classic 2.x, not 5.x) — a non-linear personal information manager
  • TheBrain — a network of thoughts (no current activities on that front, however)
  • reMarkable — a paper tablet (not really, but it comes close to it)

Very different concepts! As for Joplin, after two months experience I don't expect to marry him/her (Scott/Janis), but I foresee al long-lasting and close friendship. It scored convincingly on the following criteria:

  • Many platforms
  • I still feel the owner of my data, the format is human readable and well structured, so even when Joplin suddenly vanishes, the information won't — in contrast with OneNote — be totally lost (I would feel more than a tiny bit uncomfortable, nevertheless)
  • Rich text
  • Table support (above my initial expectations, I must say)
  • Images can be included
  • Simple organization: hierarchy (very visible) and tagging (a bit hidden away)
  • Ease of use, really

WYSIWYG would be more convenient (provided that it won't limit my expressiveness), but the dual pane solution has proven not to stand between my thoughts and getting them recorded. Better than TiddlyWiki and TheBrain.

It's not all euphoria, however. In spite of what I said above about my illusion of ownership, I am actually worried about the continuity. It's not only about Joplin's life expectancy, but also about future changes that may break the structure of my data. I have already experienced such a case. Not tremendously harmful this time, since I've just started to build up my text corpus and I can easily repair it at this stage. I realize that my concern goes beyond Joplin. I'm already losing a lot of time trying to find ways to go on with what I'm used to be doing. 'Version' and 'new model' are becoming horrifying words.


What do you mean by structure of your data? And what was the change that broke that structure? Just trying to understand the issue as in general each new version is backward compatible.

Hi @laurent,

I was talking about this table issue. The vertical bar has a new function since v179: it is the minimalist preparation of a new, headerless table, no horizontal bar required. Its old function, inserting an empty row, has been dropped. Fortunately, empty rows can still be created by two consecutive vertical bars. So the whole thing can actually be regarded as an improvement, that’s why I guess this change was made deliberately.

We haven’t seen any complaints from other users about this behavior, have we? So it would be fine with me to leave it as is now. The incident hasn’t ruined my trust in Joplin, but made me aware again of “memento perdere” (the mild companion of “memento mori”).


VNote has a friendly and intuitive user interface with lots of strong points Joplin could benefit from. It is a nice (and fast) tool. However, as usual, it lacks synchronisation features. Also, no mobile clients. It would be nice if it could use the Joplin API server as a data backend.

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