New Tools for Note Making

Toolset for desktop and mobile note-making

This post is part of my wider enquiry into my note-making practices.


The key technical requirements for my new note-taking setup are as follows:

  • must be based on Markdown text files
  • optionally the ability to enhance publishing with mdx
  • able to separate publishable files from private
  • must support any backup or versioning that will work for text files (e.g. dropbox, GitHub)
  • not locked into someone else’s product
  • publishing selected notes to static website
  • options with scriptability and/or templating to reduce the amount of time taken on basic process tasks

Current tools

I started this note last November, and the title implied that I’d settled on a new note-making tools setup. The reality is that a setup is never fixed, and I find an ever-present temptation for yak-shaving.

The core elements I’m using right now are:

  • two git repositories, one private for daily working notes, a second one that is published to my digital garden
  • for desktop editing the private, quotidian working notes I have experimented with Obsidian and find it productive. However cost of the notes ecosystem is important, and an Obsidian licence for commercial work is an annual subscription, so I have reverted to using Foam, as below
  • desktop editing of the public digital garden is currently edited using the Foam plugin on top of Visual Studio Code
  • publishing is a custom Gatsby.js site hosted on Netlify
  • Mobile git client is Working Copy
  • for mobile quick capture of thoughts I use Drafts (Pro) - including its great dictation feature on Apple Watch
  • for detailed editing on mobile I am currently using IA Writer
Proactive application of technology to business

My interests include technology, personal knowledge management, social change