Introducing notes.txt

After discovering todo.txt, I realized that I needed something similar for notes. About a year ago I started working on a similar tool that would enable me to write

n a Cookie recipe

which would open up an editor where I could start writing down the fantastic cookie recipe I had in my head. I’m really no good at cookie recipes, but I tend to want to type down ideas or notes quickly when they are fresh in my mind. Opening up a text-document, saving it somewhere and typing away is usually no problem, but finding these spread out text files later is much more tedious.

So I figured I needed a way to organize this. There are several GUI apps that do this, but I really like the availability of the terminal. todo.txt really showed me how much more efficiently I managed to store and maintain my TODOs, and I wanted to do the same with my notes. This is where notes.txt comes in.

Creating notes

By typing

n a Cookie recipe

in a terminal, vim pops up at the end of a file named 2012-10-30.mkd (the current date) with the cursor ready at a point below a ready-made title:

I am then able to start typing away, and save the document when I’m done.

This makes me satisfied when it comes to typing down things easily.

Opening up an old topic

The next important step is to make it easy to find this cookie recipe at a later point. First I thought file names would do the trick, but I figured that making it easy to search for titles would be way better. If I now type

n e Cookie_recipe

in a terminal, the same document shows up with the cursor placed on the title:

This is of course also works with tab completion, so that if I type

n e Cookie

I may just press Tab to complete Cookie to Cookie_recipe.

Finding notes

If I want to list all my topics, I simply write

n ls

and a list of all topics show up.

If I remember that I wrote something about sugar, but don’t know in which note, I may type

n ls sugar

and note.txt will print out all topics where the word sugar is found somewhere in the text below:

As you see, the titles are listed as Cookie_recipe/Ingredients and Cookie_recipe/Recipe, allowing for you to access subtitles through

n e Cookie_recipe/Ingredients

If there are multiple instances of the same title, let’s say that we have two titles named Cookie_recipe, notes.txt will prompt you to select which topic you would like to open:

The current state of affairs

The application is not quite release-ready yet, but I’m hoping to make an Ubuntu package in a short-term future. In the meantime, you may find the source code for this at my Github account.

 

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Svenn-Arne Dragly

I'm a physicist and programmer, writing about the stuff I figure out as I go.

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