23rd Feb, 2024
Open source note-taking apps allow users to modify and improve the code and programming inside an app to essentially customise their note-taking app to be how they want it to be. In this list are some of the best open source note apps.
Looking for a note-taking app but you want it to be open-source?
You have probably tried all kinds of the best note-taking apps but wish you could make some changes and find a more secure place for all your notes and ideas. Not just in the editing the theme kind of way, but completely changing the code.
That's when open-source software comes into play. You can download note-taking apps that offer their code to the public for you to make changes to, share with others, and create apps that work exactly how you want.
If you are a programmer or developer, the idea of changing and modifying apps sounds like a dream, and it's real. We have gathered some of the best open-source note-taking applications here for you to check out.
Open-source note-taking software is super in-depth, but we will keep it easily digestible for now. If you want to learn more about open-source software to understand the details, check out this website.
Open-source tools appeal to programmers, students learning how to code, and those who want to essentially build or contribute to applications. It also allows apps to evolve thanks to those contributing, helping them grow in popularity and usage.
Here's our list of the best open-source note-taking apps:
Some of the apps above also allow users to create changes using no code, this means you don't need any knowledge to create your workflow. However, general knowledge of how to use and edit code would be preferred for most open-source editing.
Joplin is an open-source notes app that also supports to-do lists, it has a minimal interface and is easy to navigate. You can create notes and organize them into notebooks and use multiple text editors such as Rich Text and Markdown.
It's also an "offline-first" app, along with being open source. This means your data will always be saved and accessible via your device, even without a connection. You can then access your notes on the go and still save them to your device.
Your notes are then secure using end-end encryption and synced into the Joplin Cloud, or another Cloud such as Dropbox and Onedrive. You won't have to worry about anyone reading your notes or stealing them.
Joplin allows you to customize the app using open source through custom themes, and plugins, this is great for developers or for students to learn how coding works. You can create your own plugins and code scripts using the extension API.
Joplin is a fan favourite for many of the open-source community thanks to being on the market some time and the abilities on connecting to other services too. This is one of the more common options to go with that have staple abilities for note-taking.
Anytype is a note-taking app where you can create pretty much anything. You can create a knowledge base, a journal, a habit tracker, and more thanks to its open-source nature and flexible use.
Anytype is also a super secure application using only local on-device encryption. Only you can access your notes unless you decide to share Peer to Peer. Sharing with peers means you can edit and share files without needing authority or a central server.
Open code with Anytype means you can analyze, compile, and run software components on your device without having to depend on anything else. You can also open protocols to build apps inside Anytype with no permission needed.
Anytype is probably the easiest open-source notes app because it uses no-code editing, which means you can edit your notes and workflow to how you like. You don't need to understand code to create your apps and customize your workspace.
The power of Anytype comes from the abilities that make it similar to Notion allowing you to bring ideas together, connect them and even bring them to life in a graph (which Notion actually doesn't do yet)
Simplenote is an easy-to-use open-source note-taking app with Markdown support to write, preview, and publish notes. It's also free to use, although you can pay to support the app and its development.
Notes are always updated in real-time on all devices without the need to sync or save, this saves users a ton of time and you don't have to worry about accessing notes. Your notes are also backed up every time you edit, so you can re-visit past versions if you want.
Now that Simplenote is open source, users can contribute to changes, edit the app, and create their own edited code from the source code inside each device. This means you can customize Simplenote however you want and share with others.
Simplenote uses Simperium. We won't go into detail but this is basically what stores and syncs notes across apps and it handles all the work for you. Most apps have their version of this with their own names.
Simplenote is owned by Automattic, the creators of WordPress and offers an extensive free experience for managing your notes, without many limits and shared abilities too. For people who want a balance between intense looking notes apps and approachable in feel.
Standard Notes might be the most secure note-taking app with open source. You can make sure your notes are encrypted and only you can read your notes. Everyone can use the public open source code to edit and make changes too.
You can store everything inside Standard Notes from notes, files, and more, meaning you don't need to use other apps and risk data being breached. This also makes the experience a lot more productive all being in one space. Notes can also be written with markdown, rich and simple text. You can create spreadsheets, and to-do lists and manage your tasks. The whole app is very minimal and easy to use.
In terms of why this is the most secure notes app, you can choose to have nightly email backups that send a copy of your text-based data, you can also set up two-factor authentication and even see long-term revisions of older notes.
Notesnook is another super secure and private note-taking app with open-source software. Notesnook is end-end encrypted and also allows you to create encrypted monographs of your notes, meaning no one else will be able to read them.
Notesnook allows you to create any kind of notes you want using basic formatting, markdown support, code blocks, and more, then organize them into notebooks. Everything will also seamlessly sync across your devices.
All Notesnook client apps are now open-sourced on GitHub. This means you can use the importer, web clipper, and sync server to create your own code and modify the way you use the app. This also means the code will always be available, even if the app closes down.
Finally, a handy little feature with Notesnook is its reminder feature, you can now keep track of your tasks and reminders inside Notesnook, making this a multipurpose app and super productive.
Notesnooks is growing as a popular tool for managing notes using open-source. A lot of people like the combination of security with the reasonable pricing, the yearly pricing makes the Pro experience with more security functions even more approachable.
AFFiNE Pro is an all-in-one notes app that allows you to write, draw, and plan your tasks and projects. You can use the whiteboard to brainstorm, add databases, tables, and much more.
AFFiNE Pro is called a hyper fused platform as it allows you to consolidate your entire workflow in one place, meaning you don't need to switch between apps anymore. You can do everything in one place.
You can collaborate with teams, plan projects, track progress, and link databases. Inside whiteboards, you can add videos, draw, add lists, and use AFFiNE Copilot AI to ask questions to support content.
It also uses open-source code accessible to the public so you can contribute and enhance the app for yourself and for others to use. You can open issues inside the community and engage with others using the app too.
AFFiNE is early days but the powers are very interesting. Combining document management and whiteboard allow you to be very creative and turn anything into a visual whiteboard, much like if Evernote & Miro had a baby. One that could be very interesting.
So, you like the idea of trying an open-source note-taking app but aren't sure which one is the best for you? Here are some breakdowns to help you choose.
AFFiNE is an interesting combination of pages and whiteboards for playful document creation much like Craft and Miro combined:
If you're hunting for something like Obsidian or Roam, but want open-source, try Anytype:
Both these apps offer the best line-up on the open-source market for E2E & beyond.
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