Don't get me wrong. I love Joplin. I liked it a lot, and then learned MD which allowed me to really get a lot of work done on a consistent basis from my 8" tablet. MD is great and a huge improvement over anything else I've seen on an android tablet. Also, I've plugged in some css changes to customize it and some plugins etc.
But, I'm wondering if someone wasn't going to do MD and probably wouldn't do plugins, except I might set them up with simple backup because it is essential. So, is Joplin right if someone will limit themselves to the wysiwyg editor? I don't remember what that is like. Is Joplin good for really non-technical people?
I did recommend it a couple years ago to a bookkeeper who is comfortable with computers. She found it too geeky then, but it changes so much so fast is it too geeky now?
Yep. Proof: I use it.
It's changed and improved almost beyond recognition since a few years ago. I hate "geeky" things (except when I want geeky things), and Joplin is as far removed from geeky as possible!
Does this mean you use the wysiwyg editor!?! Or, are you comfortable with a little Markdown?
This is a great truism of our open source age! It's such a super difficult balance.
I use markdown but with the awesome rich markdown plugin so that I can see my images during editing.
For a while I tried the WYSIWYG editor, but I enjoyed the total freedom of markdown a lot better after all.
I honestly think Markdown is somewhat undeservedly tagged as "geeky" or "techie" when really all it is just a slightly different paradigm from what people have gotten used to after years of office suites.
Yes there are some quirks to the Markdown "rules" that aren't immediately obvious but realistically those quirks are no different from the ones you would be forced to learn that differentiate the Evernote editor vs MS Word. I think if you take the time to get familiar with it then it becomes second nature in no time.
As for what note taking app I would recommend, honestly it depends on what that person actually needs.
I love Joplin for actual note creation and web clipping. I use it to document things I do, stuff I've made, things I've bought, progress in various tasks, shopping lists etc.
On the other hand I still very much use another note app and that is MS OneNote. The big difference is that I only use OneNote for work as that suits my needs far better than Joplin for the type of "note taking".
OneNote is perfect for me there because 1) Company is invested in the MS ecosystem and 2) I don't "write" notes so much, my OneNote is more like a giant pinboard full of random email snippets, bits of log files, annoted pictures, attachments etc. where the preserved WYSIWYG formatting is important and the freeform "pinboard" style layout allows me to put that data on screen in a way that makes sense.
I'm exactly the same. Started with wysywyg moved to markdown. Use the rich markdown plugin. Really like it a lot, but even without it on my 8" tablet, I'm able to take notes really well, better than anything else I've found even without rich markdown plugin.
I agree with you. But, if it "seems" geeky to people used to wysiwyg, then its a problem. I do a newsletter for my clients who are mostly accountants, bookkeepers, lawyers, secretaries, and some other very small businesses. I want to do an article recommending Joplin because I love it. I'm just wondering if my audience (with the exception of the other consultants who take my newsletter), will only use the wysiwyg at least at first, which I did, not having used Markdown before and if Joplin is still a really good notetaking program.
I moved from a paid Evernote program mostly because it allowed me to save my notes locally and also was more outline oriented.
I'm with you there. I really wished that the rich markdown plugin was part of the core, with pictures enabled by default and also some of the CSS "hacks" such as grayed out codes (e.g. titles or bold etc). Also I think when you install Joplin, it shows the split view by default which might be a little intimidating at first glance.
It would probably come across as much less "geeky" if it displayed just the edit view after installation... rather than the split view by default.
ABSOLUTELY YES! I can’t really confirm that in a way which shows how much I agree.
If you can’t imagine to have used WYSIWYG editors for the your whole life of school, study and work only, you’ll never get the impression of how strange it is to have formatting elements right in the text you write and see. For someone not used to it, it looks like code. It’s a big advantage to unburden content from technical elements for formatting.
Finally I am on the way to adjust to markdown plain view, but it’s not intuitive for me as I have no experience with html for example. I can say that I only address myself to get used to it, because I like the concept of markdown to be portable and let’s say it melodramatically: lasting forever.
On the desktop I only use wysiwyg. Which is OK for me, a non IT user. The lack of indent is crazy though. Some of my stuff needs fast navigation with outlining. And some outliners use the indent for quick hierarchy definition.
On mobile there only seems to be markdown and an EDIT mode. A terrible experience. I'm consuming the text as I edit. Which gets messed up with weird characters. And on the small screen that's a total disaster. I don't like the extra step of switching in and out of EDIT mode either. That's is not necessary on other rich text apps. Such as Telegram.
Joplin isn't really a rich text application though, everything is markup underneath so things like indentation don't really make sense.
Personally I think there always needs to be a WYSIWYG style mode in Joplin (although I'll probably rarely ever use it) but it needs to expose its markdown nature (both positives and negatives) better than the current editor does.
Its all very well hiding the markdown stuff from people who aren't comfortable with it but it leads to questions that don't make sense in the grand scheme of things like indentation, special table formatting and various text decoration options; those simply aren't standard markdown features but are what people used to word processor type applications are familiar with.
Sure. But what is underneath is irrelevant to most Wysiwyg users. Swap out markdown for something with fewer limitations as an option maybe. And have better formatting options. Take a look at ZIM Wiki. It doesnt have a mobile client, but it's nice to use.
I agree with that it is irrelevant which is why I don't think the current richtext editor is the correct choice, I think it should be something more like Typora/Marktext (i.e. a bit more abstracted away from "pure" Markdown than even the rich markdown plugin but still enforces and makes the markdown rules clear)
As for moving away from Markdown entirely, I very much disagree as Markdown is what makes Joplin, Joplin. The fact that it is Markdown means that everything is portable (which is why I tend to not use plugins that deviate from the spec, introducing new classes etc.) and I can edit my note wherever I want (installed app, via SSH with vim, in MarkText etc.) without having to worry about any data getting lost or removed.
There simply aren't any other formats with the combination of ease of use, readability and portability.
And it wasn't like I was a diehard Markdown enthusiast from the start, the only real exposure I had to it was from things like reddit, when I first started using Joplin I was using the rich text editor before I saw the light and migrated to the Markdown editor and now won't look back.
I also adore the fact that the "real" formatting is entirely customisable without having to touch the content of the document itself so one single note can look entirely different just by changing how it is rendered.
If you don't want Markdown ever then I don't think Joplin is really the appropriate tool. Ultimately it is a note taking app - not a fully featured word processor, desktop publisher or data warehouse and I think it should be treated as such - Markdown is absolutely an appropriate choice for such an application (and it shows by just how many of the bigger note taking apps support it).
I think it's great that the underlying format for the rich text editor is Markdown. It makes the data a lot more portable and durable - just compare to the markup mess that the Evernote notes are. Even their own app sometimes cannot import back the enex files they export.
The problem is that this advantage is not obvious - people will only care about it the day they need to export their note or get interoperability with other apps. And of course it means that there are restrictions on what can be done when editing the notes, and it's difficult to overcome these.
I thought before of saving these rich text editor notes to HTML instead, but I'd really like to keep it all Markdown, and maybe improve the editor with this limitation in mind.
Hi ianp5a, I'm the original poster and though it is clear you are an outlier here, I think you might be very much more like my clients than most of the other posters (including myself), here.
Are you going to stick with Joplin even though it is and will continue to be, based on Markdown. If so, why?
For me it's very important that the underlying data is saved as markdown because it's easy to handle programmatically to extend anywhere.(as opposed to ms word, which is very difficult to process with a program and the npm package for the nodejs version is chargeable)
Thanks for your comments everybody. Regarding the underlying Markdown format, as long as I don't see the markdown directly, the format does not matter. That's just something under the hood. I also use Wiki based notes with a rich text editor. Markdown is not the only option for a notes program.
My only issue with Markdown is the restriction of indents and tabs causing the need for messy workarounds.
My big problem with Joplin is the lack of rich text in the mobile client. I'm reading a carefully laid note when in the field, and if I need to change something, switching into edit mode jumbles the display of the note dramatically. That would be a reason for me to change away from Joplin.
Both the rich text editor and the mobile app are in need of a bit of TLC in a number of places:
See below for editor related topics as a possible GSoC project:
Or this list of mobile improvements in general
However as for:
I agree that Markdown is a choice amongst other formats but I would argue it is also one of the strongest as it is widely supported, widely known (even Reddit uses it for its comments) and allows a lot of seamless features without the need for some kind of extra conversion library. Even if Joplin itself blew up you could still just grab the notes directly from the database and have all your data intact, just how you wrote it.
Not to mention the number of markdown related tools available as node packages which can be used by the plugin system.
Yes sure. I get that you and others choose Joplin because of markdown. I see others choose Trillium Obsidian and Zettlr for the same reason. That's fine.
But the formatting method is not the reason everyone chooses a notes program. Especially those who prefer rich text editors, which have served me well for decades. In fact seeing the markdown edit codes is just a mess to me. Something to be avoided. A bad experience. Something for programmers and IT people perhaps? It's not my world.