Taking Notes as a Programmer/Coder

Hey Gang,

Any fellow developers out there? I’ve had an ages-long struggle finding and sticking with a notes app that I can use for both my personal notes and my coding notes for studying and for my job as a freelancer.

Does anyone have recommendations on a good solution for this? Evernote has a couple 3rd-party solutions (like Marxico and EverTool), but they’re both kind of hacky in that you have to step outside Evernote to actually create the note, and once it’s in Evernote, you can’t really edit the note if needed.

Notion has good support for code notes and syntax highlighting, but I didn’t really jam well with Notion’s interface in general when I tried using it before. Maybe I should give it another go?

Any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.


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:wave: Fellow developer here!

I’ve been going through this because gasp I’ve been trying to decouple from being fully dependent on macOS. The dev work I do performs vastly better on Linux, so I’m in early stages of exploring what that looks like.

I use Notion for some high level planning and such, which works well. But I’m not a fan of the friction to get bits of info into it. It’s great if you’re using it directly all day but not if you capture somewhere else like Drafts or a text file and want to store it somewhere.

I’ve honestly been considering emacs org-mode or a vim plugin that emulates org. (cc @gnewman since you’re an org user!) I spend a lot of time on the terminal so leveraging that more may be a good idea. Plus less mouse use is always better imo.

It has a lot of capacity to do just about anything you need it to, plus it’s not going to lock in your data. The downside is limited mobile capacity.

The other thing I’ve been considering is a directory of plain text markdown files. Most editors can do syntax highlighting decently (though in md might need some work to highlight code snippets.

If you’re looking for a web service, I’ve heard Coda is decent for programmers.

Bear is decent for code, too.

I’ve never used BoostNote but it appears designed for devs.

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I have tried a few systems, Evernote, Bear, Drafts etc. Currently I save code snippets and articles in DEVONthink and keep a workbook in each project root folder which is saved and formatted in .org format using a sublime text plugin.

This gives me a plain text file but with core orgmode formatting and features without The overhead of emacs.

I believe there is a similar plugin for vscode as well.


Yeah emacs is a beast to learn. If you know vim then Spacemacs makes it easier, but it’s still a new mode of thinking to ascribe to. I like your idea of using Sublime though.

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Bear is what I settled on for general notes. Syncing is fast and works flawlessly on all my devices.

Orgmode is my long term storage solution for work related notes and meetings. It’s also my zettlekasten. I prefer it because it’s txt files. Emacs does have a learning curve but you can be surprisingly productive just learning the basics.

@justindirose I went back to Mac after almost a year full Linux. Haha


Interesting. Why did you go back?

For my classical guitar studies I needed good recording software that doesn’t take hours to setup and use. I missed OmniFocus badly. I found myself firing up an old Mac too often for photoshop. For python programming it was 100% fine. Everything else was just ok.

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I use Standard Notes because it is cross platform and most importantly plain text. I’ve purchased the Extended plan and use the Code Editor for longer code snippets, but mainly the Markdown Pro editor with code blocks.

I’ve tried emacs, but I prefer to avoid carpel tunnel at all costs, so pure keyboard navigation is out. I won’t use a service that doesn’t encrypt my data by default, and respect my privacy.

@justindirose Which distro are you using? I’ve been playing around with ElementaryOS as it closest to macOS. I’m thinking of switching, as it is a lot like macOS, but when it doesn’t behave like macOS in someway I expect, I get frustrated. I figure if I use something that doesn’t look so much like macOS, then I’ll have a better experience with less frustration.

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I’ve been playing with both Ubuntu and Arch (Linux hard mode). I’ve looked at Mint an ElementaryOS, too. My biggest roadblock right now is having adequate hardware to run it. Apparently 12 years of macOS/Apple only doesn’t lend to having good Linux machines lying around…