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Ask HN: Good Alternatives to One Note

I've used a variety of different softwares for my organisation systems, but they all seem to be lacking. One note seems to be the only one that works, but their sync issues are so bad that it makes editing from multiple devices painful as hell.

I have 3 main functionalities that I am searching for: 1. Allow me to organise my pages (rules out Evernote) 2. Has table functionality (rules out notion) 3. Can be used on the phone (rules out desktop-only solutions)

I've been looking for ages and have found nothing that suits.

If anyone has something that fits this description, it would be a game changer for me.

19 pointsatiredturte posted 3 months ago19 Comments
anoncake said 3 months ago:

I use Org. It's part of Emacs, which you may consider either a dealbreaker or a feature.

While Emacs itself does not really work on mobile (unless you run it in a terminal), there is a companion app for Android called Orgzly. Unfortunately it is quite limited. For example, it does not support tables. (Since Org files are plain text, you can view and technically edit them, but the latter is a pain.) It's good enough for taking quick notes so you don't forget them and to look at existing ones.

For syncing, I use Syncthing, which works flawlessly. Conflicts have to be resolved manually though. Orgzly also has built-in support for syncing via Dropbox. I've never used it as it involves manually pulling and pushing to the server as in a VCS rather than working in the background.

superlepton said 3 months ago:

Would Simplenote suit your needs? It supports markdown so it should be possible to create tables, although I did not try it.

ssorc said 3 months ago:

Notion has tables; is there specific table functionality you need that they don’t offer?


was_boring said 3 months ago:

Notion's tables are ironically too complex to use but not powerful enough to provide good functionality. It would have been better if they just had a a simple table like in Word.

It's like they tried to jam airtable into their product.

atiredturte said 3 months ago:

Their tables are more like databases. I am looking for a simple, static table that I can enter lots of information into.

I log every day in a week as a 7x4(or so) table, and each cell contains a lot of information. Notion's tables are just not cut out for it. I've messaged their support several times asking for this feature, since their product is otherwise perfect, but basic tables of this nature are simply not on their roadmap for the foreseeable future.

shostack said 3 months ago:

I tried Notion but honestly found it to be overly complex for what I had primarily done in Evernote. Am I must missing some key workflow concepts with it?

asaddhamani said 3 months ago:

Seconded. Notion does have table, but perhaps their typing makes it a little clunky for you?

tajstar said 3 months ago:

I would give https://coda.io/welcome a try it should meet all the criteria that you mentioned. I use it on the daily.

atiredturte said 3 months ago:

I've never heard of it. Looks promising! Thank you!

Edit: While the tables aren't perfect, this seems to be the best option so far.

ducatdusk said 3 months ago:

You've not said what platform you primarily work with but if you use MacOS/iOS then I can highly recommend DevonTHINK.

sandreas said 3 months ago:

Perhaps Typora? (https://typora.io/)

Down_n_Out said 3 months ago:

Reminds me a little of Bear[0]

[0] https://bear.app/

atiredturte said 3 months ago:

Looks really pretty! However, it seems to only be available for computers (no mobile support)

cweagans said 3 months ago:

You can use any Markdown editor on mobile. ia writer is a good one for both android and ios.

DoreenMichele said 3 months ago:

Private blogspot blog. You can add tables with a little HTML and CSS.

atiredturte said 3 months ago:

How would the mobile editing support be? I edit the items in the table very frequently and this is very important. Markdown-based solutions fail for me in this regard.

DoreenMichele said 3 months ago:

There is an app. I suggest you download it and try it.

You would need to do the HTML part of the table elsewhere, but you should be able to edit contents of the table in the app.

You can edit in a browser on mobile. Some browsers are better than others and it would likely be substantially impacted by phone type and size.

I sometimes do a surprising amount of HTML in the browser of my phone. I use the Edge browser.

You can add CSS to the template and that helps a lot with tables. For example, you can add CSS that adds a border and that changes the background of every other row.

I can get you a CSS snippet for that if you want and do a little tutorial post to walk you through it.

s_m said 3 months ago:

Google Docs?

greggeter said 3 months ago:

What kind of sync issues are you having? I agree it takes a beat or two to get mobile to sync up once the app starts, but I have not experienced any troubles that would make me want to look for something else.

OneNote really does hit all the high points for me. The most important being free-placement of text anywhere on an infinite-size page.