Resophnotes: A Bare-Bones Note Taking App

There are a lot of note taking applications to choose from, all with their own features, workflows, interfaces and what not. There are notes apps that stores pictures along with notes, attach videos and provide enough formatting options that they might as well be full-fledged word processors.

Is Resophnotes the definite note taking app? Let’s find out!

Of course, there’s the all important cloud-syncing capabilities and once it cloud connectivity, we might as well add Facebook and Twitter integration along with an entire collaboration suite.

That’s not to denigrate such apps, of course. Collaboration features are great, especially if a developer is courting the all important (if not quite sexy) enterprise market. The ability to archive rich media certainly has its place, as well.

But what about those of us who have little to no need for such features?

There’s always the notes.txt file kept on the desktop that can be quickly updated or consulted with Notepad, though I’ve personally always found such a file gets unwieldy.

What I’ve been looking for is something that would let me make a quick note (as in, just a bit of text) and then get out of my way until I need to find said note again.

Well, for pure bare-bones simplicity in note taking, there’s Resophnotes. Resophnotes is kind of like adding a simple interface to the notes.txt file to make a little more functional, without piling on features to make it bloated. It’s available as a free download, though the developer does accept donations.

Entering Notes

The interface provides a dual-pane window with a list of notes on the left (there’s an option to put the list pane on top in the options menu) and a text editor pane on the right for viewing and editing notes.

Main interface for Resophnotes

Main interface for Resophnotes

The first line you type in the note becomes the title for the list, which gets filled in as you type it, making basic usage of Resophnotes almost self-explanatory. Optionally, you can add tags to the note to make it easier to locate. If a note is particularly important, you can “pin” it, so that note is always at the top of the notes list.

The bottom of the editing pane provides a bit of information like the last date and time the note was modified as well as a word count that isn’t updated quite in real-time like say, Microsoft Word, but will indicate the correct count a few seconds after you stop typing.

You can access almost all of Resophnotes functions using keyboard short-cuts without ever touching the mouse. From the options menu (Ctrl-O) you can define a short-cut to bring Resophnotes into view when it’s running in the background (or minimized to tray) like Alt-Ctrl-N. Then Ctrl-N opens a new note followed by Ctrl-Y to add tags. Alt-P will pin the note, should it be important enough.

And those are the major features. Type notes, find notes for later retrieval. Of course, this would be a pretty short review if there weren’t any other features at all, so lets have a look at what else is offered in this package.

Notes and Formatting

While Resophnotes handles notes almost entirely in plain text, there are some minimal formatting options available, using a bit of simple mark-up syntax.

For example, you can create a heading by surrounding words with two equal signs ==Like this==. Words can be bolded by putting two single-quotes on each side ”like this” or italicized with three single-quotes ”’like this”’.

While it won’t show up in the main notes pain, there is a Markdown Preview mode that will display notes marked up with Markdown  in HTML format from which you can save the note as an HTML file.

A note formatted with Markdown

A Markdown formatted note shown in the preview window

Though formatting options are minimal, Resophnotes will recognize website address and hyperlink them. Clicking the links will open them in your default web browser. Similarly, it also recognizes e-mail addresses and clicking those will take you to a compose window in your default e-mail client.

Finding Notes

So, putting notes in Resophnotes is pretty easy but what about getting them back out?

Obviously, you can hit up the tag list to narrow down the list only notes with those specific tags. But what if a more thorough search is required?

Resophnotes uses an incremental find-as-you-type search which narrows down the list as you enter search terms until the list only shows notes with the phrases you’re looking for. The search terms will then be highlighted in the notes.

Now, Resophnotes can store you notes in two ways. By default, the program uses its own database to store everything. However, you can also opt to keep all your notes in plain ASCII files that can be opened everywhere, with one file per note. The program itself will still manage them.

I can’t say I noticed any difference in speed when searching (which is pretty quick), but I should point out I haven’t tried using Resophnotes to handle a large notes collection.

Being able to keep everything in plain text is there in place of an export feature and you could access those on almost any computing device. Even, theoretically, a Commodore 64 — if for some reason you wanted to do that.

Resophnotes search windows

Showing search results in Resophnotes

Simplenote Sync

If you’re concerned about online syncing and keeping your notes portable, Resophnotes has you covered there, though through a third-party.

Resophnotes syncs with an online note taking app called Simplenote.

Simplenote is, well, simple. Similar to Resophnotes itself, it has a two pane interface, showing a list of notes and an editing pane for editing them. Tagging and pinning notes also there and sync.

While the web interface is attractive what is probably more useful is that Simplenote has mobile apps for most platforms including iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7 and even WebOS and Symbian.

Simplenote is free to use, though does offer premium accounts for $19.99 annually that give users a few extra features and removes ads from the mobile apps.

Though, if you’d prefer not to use Simplenote, there is another option for syncing Resophnotes.

Remember how you can store your notes as separate text files? Well, you can put those files in an online-synced storage app like Dropbox(www.dropbox.com) where again, being ASCII files, will open on almost any device that can access them.

Linked Notes

Although Resophnotes eschews a lot of note taking features, it does provide one I didn’t expect: Wiki-like linked notes.

Put a word between brackets [Like this] and that becomes a link that will take you to a note with a title between the brackets. If that note doesn’t exist, a pop-up dialogue will ask if you’d like to create a note with that name.

Final Thoughts

This is the part where I would be tempted to bring up missing features I’d like. I mean, there could be better rich text support, the ability to link to pictures, the ability to format notes as lists (ooh, it would be great if lists were collapsible, too), Twitter integration or some kind of social media activity stream….

But that really defeats the purpose of what Resophnotes is supposed to be. A stripped down note taking app that does just that: take notes.

Sure, there’s always one more feature that would make it useful but the problem there is that everybody will have their own “one more feature that would make me fall in love with this” and the next thing you know, it’s bloated and takes a while to load.

That said, my “one feature that would make me fall in love with this” would be if hitting the keyboard combination to bring Resophnotes back from a minimized state would also instantly bring up the editor with a new note.

All in all, I’d say Resophnotes succeeds in handling text notes and nothing else while providing a few extra features.


Summary

A bare-bones note taking application that does just that: handles notes in plain text with only a few additional features.

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  • Timmdrumm

    Sounds like a great program. Unfortunately, I cannot get it to install on Windows 7 x64. Troubleshoot compatibility determines it to be an incompatible application.

    Suggestions?

    • Todd Lucas

      Try using the portable version rather than the installed version. No difference in functionality. Works fine on my 3 Win7x64 machines.

  • help

    For the webmaster : You can use somtehing like de your screenshot from the css framework foundation to fix the overflowing bug of images on this page.
    Thanks for the website man, it made my insomnie :)
    Have a nice day

  • m. a. donnelly

    Basic file-handling capabilities would be nice. Keeping large quantities of notes in .txt files would be very cumbersome. So being able to control the names and locations of the .db files would be very useful. I for one, find the inability to do this the single greatest deficiency in an otherwise very useful application. Also, I find that having to mouse all over to the four corners of the display window for function buttons is really inefficient. Keeping all those buttons in a single toolbar would be more useful–or in pop-up context menus even more useful.

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