May 2022 Software of the Month Club – Noteplan

I have Word in “waiting “ for when I need to work with the editor. I’m not at that stage yet. I’ll export from Ulysses to Word, cleanup footnotes and then activate review mode once I start working on the final text.

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I’ve been trying NotePlan on and off for the last month or so and… I can’t verbally identify why I find it difficult to be consistent with using it. I’ve been dedicated to using Drafts for years for everything and then transferring it to other repositories (Notes, Evernote, etc.) but rarely do I need all my notes “inside” a calendar type format. I’ll continue to test it out because I feel like I’m close to figuring out what I could really use this for. So far it’s an app without a major life purpose, which for me is the beginning, middle, end of using an app constantly.

Just as a point of reference, for my last two printed books, the publisher used MS Word Tracking and comments. I imported into Pages, responded/changed, and exported as .docx for one publisher, .doc for another, and it went through without a hitch. It was a deliberate experiment by the publishers production cadre, and it worked.

I suspect that the fact that both were macOS houses helped.

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Interesting. That is good to know. I’ll keep your post for reference so that once I get to that stage I’ll double check with the publisher. If I can do that in Pages and avoid the subscription for MS Office I’ll be delighted to rid myself of one subscription. I need to experiment to see if and if so, how well, Bookends works with Pages. I’ve not tried that yet. Thanks! :grin:

When you talk to the publisher, find out if they are using a custom MS Word Template. That makes a lot of difference. They may have custom workflow scripts, for instance, to move from MS Word to In Design.

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As far as I know, you can export from Ulysses into a .docx.
Also Bookends should work with Ulysses, IIRC.

In addition, isn’t the often heard main advantage of Ulysses, that it could export a manuscript, so the publisher can handle it easy, anyway!?

Yes but inevitably the editor will want to go back and forth with revisions and more than likely will require Word’s review feature for doing so, which is why I need to keep Word until the book in finished. :slightly_smiling_face:

Long time user, and I love it. It’s the first app for a long time that I haven’t wanted to find alternatives. I think the best part is the active discord and conversations from our super-users and how accommodating they are to handle your questions. Also Eduard is one of the best engaging developers.

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Noteplan is very good for notes. It’s plug-in system is slowly expanding and I see it as middle-ground between Bear and Obsidian. Bear is much more native-feeling and mobile friendly, but lacks power. Obsidian is powerhouse but is a mess to use on mobile and is web-based. Noteplan is fully native. Has fairly good UI on mobile, and it has a plug-in platform that currently only lets you add custom command to the command palette.

It’s already very good for Notes. For tasks, it’s pretty good for organizing tasks, but you’ll likely need some plug-ins for the best possible experience. It’s also not a replacement for Reminders. It’s not for urgent alerts etc. It’s pretty good for day/month/year/project planning.

Fair criticism as a user of the app:

  • I asked about Tables, they’re likely not gonna be added for a while. I’m working on a plug-in that will format your markdown tables and add padding to line things up. No proper UI though :frowning:
  • There is a way to flag, but you need to use a custom theme.
    • Aside: The custom themes is a little known super power of Noteplan. You add regular expressions to detect patterns of text and give them custom styles. You can also automatically make text link to content by using regular expression. Example, you could automatically link u/username to twitter.
  • I’m also working on a plugin for start-dates, but it’ll be a bit of a hack
  • Number notes to sort them is annoying.
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I suggest trying to ignore the Daily Notes feature at first and using it like a simpler Obsidian alternative. A markdown note taking app with backlinks and tasks. The tasks get collected in "review’ screens.

How are files/changes stored - as text files? Can files be saved on Dropbox? Can we easily use this app with other apps like Obsidian such that the files used and info created are interchangeble?

This is one of the problems I have with the app. It is sandboxed in the App Store and its files stored in the normal Cloudkit location in the ~/Library/Containers/co.noteplan.NotePlan3/Data/Library/Application
Support/co.noteplan.NotePlan3 folder.

A while ago, @ryanjamurphy wrote a guide on how to make Noteplan and Obsidian work on the same folder of markdown files.

While I left Noteplan after the Obsidian Mobile client was released, I guess that should still work.

As for me, I still prefer Obsidian Mobile because of its linking capabilities. Links are first-class citizens for Obsidian. Tasks in Obsidian feel like some Rube Goldberg machine tied up with some fiddly plug-ins. It can work, but it’s a whole project to set it up to one’s needs. Hence I keep tasks in Things, and Notes in Obsidian and link them up as needed.

Noteplan places task as their first-class citizens. And for someone who likes this approach, it works great! But that means that linking and note-taking capabilities (formatting, such as tables and other stuff like alternative text for links) are not first-class. So every time I opened a more elaborated note from Obsidian into Noteplan, I felt disappointed by the way it looks there.

So I would suggest trying them both, but in my experience with these apps:

  • people who mainly take notes that generate/contain tasks (project managers, meeting notes, project notes, etc.) should benefit the most from using Noteplan;

  • people who use their notes to find/create connections between them (I use them mainly for my research and teaching notes) will find Obsidian a better tool but should either look elsewhere for task management (I keep Things on my side) or be willing to design their own task management system with Obsidian’s clever but unstructured plugins.

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I’'m not sure why this is a problem. Right-click on any folder or file in the sidebar and the “show in finder” option appears (as well as some other useful options). Super simple to access, duplicate, whatever I want to do.

In addition you don’t need to sync: then you can use any local folder. Or you can choose to sync via iCloud. CloudKit is the default but there are other options.

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  1. It’s ugly, which is not the fault of the developer. That’s where Apple puts it.

  2. I still don’t see a way to use any location but CloudKit or iCloud Drive. Help me out.

You’re right that tasks are first class citizens in NotePlan.

I disagree that links aren’t, however. Maybe it’s a feature added since you stopped using it, but NotePlan allows wiki linking just like Obsidian, with autocomplete, etc.

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Yeah, I got that. Backlinking is there, but it hasn’t all Obsidian goodies for that. I’ll give you a few examples:

1. Using different text to link create links to the same file

In Obsidian:

[[Some file|better name]]

Will give you a link to Some file.md that will be named this file. This way you can create a link to a given file without the need to use its file name.

When I was using Noteplan, the filename was the same as the first-line or H1 header. If I wanted to have a short link in the middle of the sentence, like this, then it would need to have the full name of the note.

2. The display of backlinks is made in a separate pane

In Noteplan, backlinks are on the top of the file and have a fixed amount of lines in preview. That can get really messy if you have more than 5 or so notes that link to this given file.

In Obsidian, they can appear on the bottom (not the default, but a good addition) and on the sidebar (it’s one of the defaults in the right sidebar). This list can be further filtered by search (e.g. to exclude daily notes or include only notes with a given tag) and previews can be disabled or even expanded to more lines than the defaults.

3. Link to a given paragraph/block

You can link to (and transclude) paragraphs in Obsidian.

That’s especially neat when you work with legal texts since you can quote a given article and, by doing this, also create a backlink to that document.

4. The outgoing links pane

Obsidian can list in a pane every outgoing link from that note (not only the inbound ones from the backlink pane).

Couple that with the “Unlinked Mentions” and now you can find connections to notes that you haven’t already tied up before. Converting those mentions to links is only a click away.


Don’t get me wrong. I think Noteplan is a superb app and I really wish my task management idiosyncrasies would line up with it. But, to this moment, it doesn’t, so I still keep my notes and tasks in two separate apps (Obsidian/Things).

I actually learned a lot from my experience evaluating Noteplan back then. Now, my tasks notes are far more elaborated in Things and I also got into the habit of changing their titles to reflect their next action while keeping a log inside their notes fields.

For this, I still keep an eye on Noteplan development and really hope it thrives!

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Great points. Most of those are things I don’t really need (or don’t think I do anyway). But then again, I do use Obsidian for some things so we’ll see.

One quick note – judging from the Discord server, there’s a lot of work going into linking to specific blocks of text. I haven’t followed it closely, and moreover don’t use the feature in Obsidian, so I don’t know how it’ll compare, but thought I’d flag it.

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For what it’s worth: Noteplan is part of Setapp