I wrote recently about using Boostnote, and why I’ve chosen that over other apps for the time being. It is not perfect though, and I’ve been thinking through all of the things that a perfect writing and reading app would have for me.
There are a few things that I’d love to have, and while I’m sure that I didn’t list them all below, I’ve been considering what I’d like to see.
These are the must haves for a note taking app for me:
This should be a given thanks to how popular it is, and how much compatibility there is. It is cleaner than rich text editors, and easier to use while writing than HTML or other markup formats.
This is something that Boostnote doesn’t have, which is unfortunate. Considering that the Gutenberg editor currently doesn’t perform spell check when content is pasted in, I need to manually check content again currently.
Offline & Online Access, Cloud & Local Storage
Having my notes in more than one place is important. I rarely type on my phone but I often consult on it. That also means that I want to be able to work on my computer, but also get to those files elsewhere. Cloud storage will handle the portability, while maintaining local copies, which some apps don’t do, will allow functions to work quicker and be accessible when the internet itself aint.
General File Type Support
As many file types as possible! Of course files that contain text and code, but also images, non-text PDFs, and more. Anything consumable that does not need to be executed separately, preferably.
Outlining and File Linking
I am trying to get better about outlining work before I start. Even if that means creating a series of headings and subheadings that I can fill out later, I’ve got some sort of framework for what I’m writing. Some tools have this built in as a feature.
File linking would also come into play here, where I could indicate that another stored file relates to this file. Evernote Premium has their suggestion feature, where it finds notes that it thinks are related, but I want to specifically indicate that I want to see a certain file related in a certain place. Boostnote has this covered, and I can even share links to specific notes across my machine.
Bonus: External Content Features
My ideal note app would also be able to handle external content as a reader and storage container. One reason for this would be to have a storehouse of research to use while I’m writing. This is probably the hardest thing to find in the same app, but if it exists, here’s what I’d want:
This is something that Pocket Premium gets me, but not by default with most “save for later” style reading services. Basically, after the content has been stripped out of whatever page it was pulled from, a local copy would be saved. This ensures that it’s available even after link-rot or total removal from the web.
Automated Tagging, Folders, & Full Text Search
I don’t like to spend a lot of time sorting my notes. I do like to sort notes into folders, but that’s mainly because it’s a shorthand mental model and way to filter to view specific categories. Pocket Premium will suggest tags, but I want something that can just handle adding those tags from the start. Additionally, some form of index that allows timely full text search would be very useful.
Search of Documents and PDFs / OCR
Optical Character Recognition was one of those nice bonuses that Evernote Premium offers. I could use a scanner to save paper documents that I might need one day but might not, and have them uploaded and taking advantage of that cloud storage. This feature has already been useful for me in the past, and something that I’d love to keep.
Annotation of Documents and Other Files
Another feature that I’ve seen used heavily in Evernote, but that I don’t personally use, is annotation. You can save images or files to Evernote, make marks over them, and share those files directly with others. When using a screenshot of a site to note an issue with it, this makes communication a lot more clear.
Integration with Other Apps
Since I’m writing a wishlist here, I’ll add that I want to be able to integrate with other apps. Let me use Spotlight and Alfred to search for notes and open the app to that specific note. Let me share them across a variety of cloud services. Let me authenticate with Github and share a note as a gist (and pull gists in as notes).
Why am I writing all of this?
This is mainly a wishlist of what I would like in an ideal note and reader combo app. I’m getting to the point where I’m wondering if it’s worth the effort to try to create my own. In my Boostnote post I mentioned how many other apps that I found that do similar things. I think that there might be an overabundance of this type of app, but I also acknowledge that both writing and reading apps can be highly personal due to how they are used for creation and consumption. It only makes sense that when you can’t find what you want you’d yearn to make your own.
Is there a magical note editor that has most of the features that I want that I haven’t seen yet? Got any suggestions for me, or other features you think are important?