Text Editor features that don’t coexist?

I am looking for a little bit of advice end guidance. My ultimate desire here, and use case, is to find a piece of software that can function as a personal wiki. I am a knowledge worker (college professor). My workflow needs in this regard are quite specific, and require a little bit of context (ok I lied, a lot).

Use case & dilemma

I teach history at the college level. History as a discipline by its very nature demands a mastery of facts and figures, historical interpretations, citations, sources, etc. But my concern is not with the passive collection and storage of all of this information. I use DEVONthink for that.

My real concern is in my classroom. I do not prepare lectures or present “canned“ content to my students. They operate on a system referred to as “Socratic dialogue“. In essence I ask students, “what questions do you have?“ The way that it works is a student will then ask about X, Y, or Z topic, and I reply. This same pattern goes on and on through a chaotic path of question and answers leading towards clarity on a given historical question, topic or phenomena.

My dilemma, is that even though I have a significant mastery of the historical material, I cannot possibly remember everything. Just imagine the vast array of things that I would need to recall on the fly to be effective. Now, I do get by and I do well (in my opinion). But for a variety of reasons, my ability to recall can be affected by externalities or just simply I don’t have that information being asked about.

Now my goal, is not to be the person that always has the answer. I think it’s pedagogically effective to demonstrate that I am a learner just like my students. But I still need to be the guide. I still need to know. I want to be able to give myself a crutch in recalling specific data.

My Solution so far…

At this point my workflow within the classroom consists of the use of two iPad pros. One, on my left is my knowledge base. The other, on my right, is my digital whiteboard. On my knowledge base iPad, I have isolated between a few text editors (as plain text or mark down is the best solution for long-term storage & stability) as a wiki hub.

I have a “dashboard“ text file for each course. On this dashboard is a table or list of wiki links to a sub page. Each sub page is a more specific set of wikilinks and data. In that sense I am creating my own Wikipedia. During class discussion, I will respond to student questions in the moment and will click into or search my text knowledge base to access data that might be of use to the given discussion. And this is where my dilemma emerges.

“Knowledge base “software requirements
I have experimented with:

  • Bear
  • Notion
  • DTTG

Specific Feature Requirements

  • Wiki-linking (Basically the ability to click links to take me to different notes)
  • In-text search (preferably regex - for quick search)
  • Ability to link to local files (in essence Devonthink to go)


  • Bear has been the most effective year so far. My limitation though with Bear is that it does not offer in text search, or anything close to regular expressions.
  • Notion is an incredible tool, and I love the database features. But you cannot link to local files. To be honest, I am seriously considering giving up on local file access and just going with this piece of software. But I am not particularly keen on its real lack of off-line access.
  • DEVONThink To Go works well but it is somewhat cumbersome in the fact that you cannot access links in “edit“ view of your text documents. In addition, it’s ugly. Now aesthetics is not the most important concern, but it does put up a little bit of friction. But as I am writing this, I feel like this might be the best solution as my perceived “limitations“ are not that significant.

There seems to be very few apps with this very specific feature set. Am I wrong? Thoughts?

Thanks for reading this very long post. I do hope it is not just beneficial to me, but also to others.

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The software that wikipedia runs on is available for free:

It’s quite a complicated / technical solution as you need to be running a web server, a database and so on, all of which would need hosting somewhere (I’m guessing you’d not get that running on an iPad too easily if at all).

If all that stuff was more technical duties than you were willing to take on, would your collage’s technical department be willing / able to setup, host & manage it for you so then you could access it from your iPad(s)? Potentially, this may also be something that could be extended to other professors & college people which would strengthen the argument for the college hosting it?

I’d use a laptop instead of a second ipad - but barring that DT sounds like the best bet.

Pedagogically, I think it’s sometimes better to take a hard question and report back in the next class rather than try to cover every query on the spot.

I’m in a similar situation, actually. There aren’t a lot of great options. I use DEVONthink and iA Writer at the moment—the former for browsing, the latter for writing.

There is a really neat app that seems to be abandonware but fits your use case: Outlinely. It works pretty well, save for a few bugs, but I could never adopt it because of the looming feeling of dreadful abandon.

There’s a v3 of DTtG in the works. Suffice it to say that I have high hopes!

Same here! They snagged the look and feel of Dynalist.io, which isn’t a bad thing, at a better price. But aside from a small flurry of updates in the summer of 2018 the app really hasn’t been updated.

It has a lot of potential as an outliner but I’m not sure I’d want to use it to do any longer-form writing, and it’s not really optimal as a personal wiki. .If you’re willing to get geeky there’s open source options like MediaWiki and TiddlyWiki.

They do have embeds, but it’s limited.

Have you looked at Scrivener? I used it only shortly, so I do not have deep knowledge on it, but it is a very powerful app.

Unfortunately scrivener document links only work on the Mac.

Thank you for all the replies!

Regarding the use of a second iPad, I like the quickness of the software and its “limitations” (focused UX). I also use a lot of shortcuts to jump to certain things that I need on the fly.

Regarding the “hard questions,” it is not necessarily hard. For example, if someone asks me how the CIA involved itself in the politics of Latin America, I could go on for hours about the macro- to meso-level, but I want the ability to point out specific actors, players, dates, etc. I would absolutely respond with an “I don’t know, but I will get back to you on that.” But the problem I have is not necessarily a lock of overall knowledge, but a lack of what I would think are easy. Another example might be if a student asks about the death toll in World War II for some specific nation or for civilians, or potentially wounded but not killed. I can describe this in broad terms, down to a respectable rounding error in most cases, but I want to be able to make a few quick taps and get the data.

I am definitely on the geeky-side, but maybe not to that level. I have built web pages and have worked with publishing languages, but nothing extreme.

Another thing that I forgot to mention is that I do really desire to remain plain text, and potentially local for all my notes. All the suggestions are wonderful! Thank you.

I found Hook via this other thread.


Then Hook’s forum led me to another new (web) app:

@Robertson.historian et al., you might want to explore these options. They’re now on my list!

I think it looks great, but it is macOS only right? I am iOS first, and Mac 2nd.

Hook is macOS only, yes. Sadly!

You’re going to think I’m nuts, but you might want to try Working Copy. Yes, it’s a Git client, which is a type of version control, but hear me out.

It has markdown, it has search, you can link to other files in the repository media files as well as markdown files, I haven’t tried PDF or images but they should work.

You wouldn’t have to get too serious about versions and stuff if you didn’t want to, although I’m currently experimenting with using this as my main notes location, and finding it pretty good. It integrates well with the Files app, and you can edit files in place with another app, if you don’t like the built in editor.


Curious to know if you’re using Hook and/or Roam, @ryanjamurphy, on their own or in tandem?

Not yet. Roam’s web app-ness has kept me away for now.

On Hook, though: your question prompted me to buy a license with Hook’s Black Friday sale. I haven’t installed it yet, but I did some exploring of the forum—and oh wow this is a great thread that you’ll probably truly enjoy. It seems like Hook’s on a great path.

Though it’ll likely be a while, I’ll make a note to post back here when I have the chance to play with it.

Damn it, I forgot to buy Hook on Black Friday :slight_smile:

I purchased Hook yesterday, too.

I’m also frustrated by the webappiness of Roam, but I read that they’ve got plans for desktop versions and want to figure out how to think with it in the meantime.

Will respond to the Mesh thread in a bit, after I’ve had the chance to read it.

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Some followup: Roam actually works quick well in an iOS browser, and frankly really well if not indistinguishable in the iPadOS browser. Experimenting now. Should be a revolutionary piece of software.


How does the pricing work for Roam? Had a quick look - seems quite interesting.

Currently free since it is in beta. It will be a subscription service in the future from what I understand.

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Just preemptively posting this. :wink:


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