I prefer to write in a note taking program rather than a word processor because I want a single place to store my random ideas/clippings, organize them into a final draft. and then archive them for future reference.
I used Info Select for many years but they kept charging me a hundred dollars for every upgrade which I had been doing version 1 in DOS. This made it possibly the most expensive program on my computer — maybe by quite a margin. When I wrote them an email mentioning this, they wrote me back telling me that their program was a value because of savings in efficiency. But I wasn’t using it commercially! That response was one reason I became so committed to open source.
But, I have to admit, I have not found an open source note taking program as good as the best parts of Info Select. (Info Select has suffered a bit from bloat.)
Lately I have been playing with three such programs, each which have limitations.
Cherry Tree is being basically a hierarchal word processor, making it the simplest of the three. In note taking, simplicity is a huge virtue. While graphics can be used in Cherry Tree it not a convenient process. Cherry Tree exports nicely to PDF, HTML and text which for backing-up and publishing.
Unfortunately, Cherry Tree doesn’t have a clip-library or template function, a feature I find very helpful for repetitive tasks like taking phone messages. The deal breaker is not spell-check. All writing tools need a spell check! In my world, this is an essential feature.
But, if you are a very good speller and you mostly are writing documents, Cherry Tree could be a good tool for you.
BasKet Note Pads
BasKet Note Pads is the most ambitious of the three note taking programs and is the best for collecting random pieces of information. It doesn’t have templates but it does allow fast importing of an HTML file which could be used as such. It only exports notes to HTML which will surely be a limit for some even though HTML can be imported into many different programs.
It has a “nearly finished” feel to it but still has a couple of missing features (and it crashed once in my testing the program). To make-up for this, it does allow you to launch an external program — like LibreOffice if you need, let’s say, a spell checker, because this program does not have one either! (This just amazes me.)
If you are collecting random notes, lists, graphics, etc, then Basket Note Pads could be useful for you but it is probably not the most useful for writers.
Everpad is a Linux open-source implementation of Evernote. Like Cherry Tree, it’s mostly a hierarchical note taking program. (with fewer hierarchies.)
Its stand-out feature is that it synchronizes with the on-line version of Evernote. This is a huge advantage if you use your notes from several computers and devices.
If you use Linux with the “Unity” interface, Everpad is nicely integrated in the “Dash” menu so that your notes are discoverable, even when Everpad isn’t running. Of the three programs, it has the most limited export options.
Some users have complained on-line that Everpad does not always synchronize properly with Evernote. I did not have this problem in my testing but this would be a critical issue, if true.
And, it doesn’t have spell-check!
Of the three, I am most likely to use Everpad because of the “cloud” advantages of Evernote. But, I’ll keep looking for the perfect note taker.
Tools: Cherry Tree, BasKet Note Pads, Everpad
Description: easy to use digital story telling tool
Alternatives: many others