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Other great note takers and points for improvement for Joplin

I have been using Joplin for 2 years now and it has truly changed what note taking meant for me and the fact that it keep evolving and the community behind it is something amazing. However there are still things I would like to have but I wasn't able to find them anywhere in any note taking app... until this week cause I stumbled upon trilium.

I really recommend to try it out especially developers working on Joplin to give it a try just to take some ideas from it maybe it can spark some collaboration between the teams.

Joplin has come a long way so I doubt anything can take it's place for me but it's good to see other apps doing things differently

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Could you give us some specifics as to what you like in that app and would like to see in Joplin?

There are things like some UI elements which are might be more user friendly for someone who just wants to use the app, I don't really mind the UI of Joplin with some CSS trick and plugins it's decent and does what I need.

But then there are something I am not sure how I can explain them in words or images cause you need to see them and play with them to understand.

For example, you don't just have notebooks with notes in them. Instead there are different types (classes) of "notebooks" example a book. A book will display an overview of all the notes that it has in it as soon as you click on it and you can click on the note and go directly to it.

Then there are things like clicking a button and creating note with todays date which is sort of similar to having a template in joplin. The difference however is that independent of where you are in the application the note will get file in a folder structure 2021/09/23. Mind you this button is not something built in the software but is created by a note that sits among the other notes. Furthermore you can do some crazy stuff like add your weight to your daily notes and then a separate note takes that value and plots a graph of your weight, again this functionality is not built in but is created through a note.

Then there are statistic for all the notes in the app, which again it's not a built in functionality but scripted in a note.

Many of these things remind me of the note-overview plugin in joplin but way faster and better.

One last things although it does not have a android/ios app it has a webapp which is basically identical to pc version still need to see how functional it is on mobile and tablet but.

2 Likes

This kind of reminds me of TiddlyWiki, where notes could have scripts in them that would run and provide extra functionality.

Played around with trilium, looks like org-mode running on Electron :slightly_smiling_face:

whom is it for exactly?

It seems to be much more geeky than Joplin. Imagine explaining to a granny with poor eyesight what is this Promoted/Inherited attrs and how she should use it, oof. At the same time trilium relies much more on gui: everything has a button/knob/dropdown.
It is probably targeted at the audience of AirTable and Notion. It's just a database (limited export) designed primarily for personal use.

So, I believe, it's too complicated for non tech person. However, if a tech person would need notepad as operating system, he/she would probably prefer more performant org-mode. Hence, probably it would attract advanced users from Notion 'cause you know, it's open source.

Markdown in database?

From architectural standpoint Joplin uses file based storage with minimum footprint on database. On other hand, Trilium goes all-in to the database approach (heck, it even exposes SQL console to user). Therefore, in my mind it loses the key ingredient of markdown: ability to keep .md files locally (and never lose control over your knowledge base).

Moreover, if Markdown is not essential there, why restrict yourself with its limited formatting, why not choose .xml and be able to render virtually anything?

what I like about trilium

  • UI consistency. Joplin is addressing it quite well recently.
  • 2 search ways: Quick search bar and gui based search page with additional attributes like tags, notebooks, etc. Basically this gui could be replicated by extending gui of command pallet in Joplin.
  • There's "recent changes" button and a separate page for changes. Granted I can get the same result in Joplin but it would take more clicks.
  • Most of shortcuts are listed right in front of a button or on hover.
  • You can choose icons for notebooks. Cool, but largely unnecessary.
  • "Similar notes" section. Also a nice feature. Can be achieved via backlinks and further development on Zettelkasten workflow.
  • "Scroll to active notebook" button in the notebook tree view.
  • Attribute text boxes for further rendering. Joplin does it via codeblocks (for example mermaid a --> b ) but special text boxes for attributes (a and b in my example) separately from code would be kinda fancier.
  • A large pack of templates and code snippets in demo database used to show off what's possible.
  • As mentioned above - visualised meta stats: note size, calendar related stats, most linked notes, etc.
  • Backlinks panel has a button to open mind map view.
  • Zen (focus) mode button to hide all extra panels in one click. In Joplin it is done by hiding every panel manually, not a deal breaker, just takes more clicks.

personal conclusion

A lot of things that trilium does differently from Joplin look either UI based or unnecessary.

3 Likes

I think you have given a good summary of the things I liked. I think I might add the clone functionality is pretty nice. Basically you have clone a note in two notebooks and if you update one of the notes it automatically updates the clone and vice-versa. This is useful if you want o prepare notes for different meetings it save time instead of having to search for notes

I believe you can do it in Joplin with tags. No need to clone anything.

Just create a tag "work", assign it to your work notes, they will show up when clicking on the tag.
Done with the meeting?
delete the tag, everything stays on its place and no progress is lost.

Hmm... that's interesting I do not have a tendency to use tags but it makes sense just never looked at it from that perspective. An now I wish tags had a separate panel in joplin instead of having to scroll down to them

Fair point, I remember it had been discussed several times but unsure what was the resolution.

Anyways, inline tags and Kanban board can make interacting with tags much easier.
Also, if you have a long list of notebooks and it gets hard to scroll to the bottom, you can fold all of them (click on the word "Notebooks" at the top)

I have been using Joplin along with Trilium for couple years. I have to use these apps individually because each app fills a certain gap in my work. I personally would like an app that combines both.

My main use of Joplin is information collection and mobile access. Trilium's web clipper is really not that good. I use Trilium for tracking my projects.

The strongest Trilium points

  • Proper hierarchy, like each notes can have sub notes
  • Each note can have its own text format like rich html text, markdown, code, regular text etc
  • Notes can embed iframe pages
  • Calendar and easy journal note types

I personally do not find its "tasks" productive, it is not intuitive. Joplin has the similar issue with todo notes, not so easy to track all the tasks and todos that need to be dealt with, well unless one puts all that stuff in a single note.

2 Likes

Hm, could you explain why having a single format for the note is better than universal format for any language?

Also, would you mind to tell what is calendar, journal note type? How do you think can it be replicated via templates in Joplin?

Because Markdown is a horrible note-taking format and can't handle a bunch of stuff properly like indenting, that is why I use regular text or rich text in Trilium for those. I can't do indent in Joplin and I do not want to type some code to indent organically while trying to take a bunch of quick notes.

The journal note type is a special note, when you use it will create a new hierarchy under journal with year -> month -> day and you can put your daily whatever in there. If none of those up folders exists it will create them accordingly.

1 Like

Here are couple more reasons why Trilium is a better note taker

Recent notes/updates

Different sub note display formats, same note hierarchy with different display formats. I especially like the card view with summary.


4 Likes

Yeah, I think I've already mentioned it here on the forum: one thing I'd really like in Joplin would be to have a scrolling view of the contents of notes when selecting a folder. Something like the one above: so that if I have dozens of short notes in a folder, I'd be able to see all of them at a glance.
Maybe one day!

Personally, I'm undecided on the note hierarchy.
I do think using a hierarchy is useful, but... I think maybe Joplin's approach is better?
I think if I did it the Trilium way, I'd get stuck with a hierarchy I no longer like. So now I just keep a few notebooks with broad categories, and use "hub" notes that link to sub-notes.
The benefit of this is that I can easily create multiple hubs if the previous hierarchy no longer suits me; and navigation is easy with the Backlinks plugin.
(Yes, it's harder to see the entire hierarchy at a glance; however, I haven't missed this feature enough to at least activate the mind map plugin. I miss it less than I expected to.)

Eh, I don't like how I formulated that. Perhaps I should go to sleep. Sorry if my meaning's not clear.

Trilium seems really cool though, thanks to everyone who wrote up comparisons and explanations and details. :sparkling_heart:

1 Like

In Trilium you can "clone (not duplication)" your notes and folders, so if you do not like the hierarchy clone your stuff to another one, and delete the one you do not like. Basically you can have your notes under multiple hierarchies as clones.

I like Joplin as much as I like Trilium however both apps have gaps in their note-taking functionality and that is how I ended up using both.

Sorry if I missed the explanation elsewhere, but how does this work in Trilium? Do you need external editors for all those formats or are they all natively supported?

Trilium has support for multiple file types including Markdown. The Text one is the rich text.

I wished that Joplin at least supported regular text so that I can indent. While I can use markdown in edit mode as a knock off regular text note, this interferes with regular markdown notes (like web scrapes) because Joplin does not remember the editor/viewer state across various notes. I end up constantly toggling between modes which gets a bit tedious.

The list is longer than what you see here.
trilium_2E2Vv3ScIG

1 Like

There is a way for Joplin to rmember note viewing state use Persist Editor layout plugin

1 Like

Thanks, I will give it a try

Ok I just tried it, while it is a nice idea, this is just more friction during usage because it does not remember the states automatically, adding/readding/removing tags to make editors states seems to be a workaround. Nevertheless, it is a better than nothing solution in my view.