Zettelkasten Forum


Multi-Platform/OS Zettelkasten Program - Need Advice Please

edited February 26 in Software & Gadgets

Hi,

Recently discovered the wonderful world of Zettelkasten.

Currently, using pen and index cards.....OK, for now, but can see benefits of having a digital system, easily searchable, etc.

Issue for me in selecting digital tools is the various OS related issues I have and how to resolve them.

At work, I use a Win 10 laptop. Due to nature of company I work at, the IT dept locks down our computers really tightly for security. So, I cannot install any software myself, would have to have IT do it and it's a big deal to get a program that is not typically used installed.

One workaround is having a program that does not have to be 'installed' to run on the laptop. Example is ToDoList by AbstractSpoon. I just copied the program files to my documents folder and can run it by double-clicking program file.

Other option is to use an online app like Notion, etc. I can run it from web browser OK on laptop. Downside is having to be online to use it. But it does allow me access it on my personal laptops such as MacBookPro and a few other laptops dual booting linux and Win10.

So, seems like either I go with online program like Notion, etc (preferably a non-subscription based app, but willing to consider if benefits are enough), or 'portable' Windows 10 app for work and installable app for my personal laptops.

I do like idea of solution that allows my data to be used on whichever laptop I want to use. So, either online data or on USB drive?

Hope this is not too confusing......

Greatly appreciate any and all input from the great minds here!

Best,

Mark

Post edited by ArchiMark on

Comments

  • I see there have been a lot of views, but no replies. Maybe post above was not clear.

    So, will try to make it easier to provide input and software program recommendations.

    Laptop A

    Location Work

    OS Win 10

    Comments IT 'Locks' laptop so I can't install programs, has to either be online or
    'portable install' program

    Zettelkasten ???
    Program
    Recommendation


    Laptop B

    Location Home

    OS OSX

    Comments No restrictions to install program or use online app

    Zettelkasten ???
    Program
    Recommendation


    Laptop C

    Location Varies (often take to work)

    OS Win 10 / Linux

    Comments No restrictions to install program or use online app

    Zettelkasten ???
    Program
    Recommendation

    While it would be nice to use the same program for all three laptops, it does not have to be if there is a good reason.

    Would like ability to either share data between the laptops or sync it.

    Thanks for any and all input.

    Hope this is clearer now.

    Mark

  • In a prior life, I was one of the corporate computing police overlords. I feel your frustrations.

    I'm retired and now a Mac user. after years in a Windows/Red Hat shop.

    I tried virtual machines, USB installed OS, remote desktops, and none of these were workable in the long run.

    I'd suggest settling on an OS, installing it on a laptop, and carrying it with you to and from work. Working offline where you have to and grabbing public wifi where you can. You might be able to get public wifi in your work environment. I used to take lunch and breaks in the conference room because IT had public wifi there.

    Short of that may be a web-based app might be in order.

    One thing that should work, but I don't know what applications to use, would be to host your notes on the web in DropBox, say, and then modify them with different apps. Markdown should be great for this. Except for the fact that it is like the wild west as far as any Markdown standards.

    I'd consider if I was in your position, Having my digital zettelkasten at home and an analog paper zettelkasten on the road. Transferring and refactoring the notes in the evening.

    Will Simpson
    I'm a zettelnant.
    Research areas: Attention Horizon, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @ArchiMark

    Zettlr works on pretty much any computer platform and is an excellent program. So you could install and use it cross-platform on various computers.

    https://www.zettlr.com/download

    I recommend storing your actual Zettelkasten files in Dropbox (or similar) so that you can access them from any device.

    If you wanted to edit your zettels from a mobile device (which I do frequently), at least in the Apple world, I suggest 1Writer (or iA Writer; for a ZK I like the former a bit better but the latter has more features).

  • @Will said:
    In a prior life, I was one of the corporate computing police overlords. I feel your frustrations.

    I'm retired and now a Mac user. after years in a Windows/Red Hat shop.

    I tried virtual machines, USB installed OS, remote desktops, and none of these were workable in the long run.

    I'd suggest settling on an OS, installing it on a laptop, and carrying it with you to and from work. Working offline where you have to and grabbing public wifi where you can. You might be able to get public wifi in your work environment. I used to take lunch and breaks in the conference room because IT had public wifi there.

    Short of that may be a web-based app might be in order.

    One thing that should work, but I don't know what applications to use, would be to host your notes on the web in DropBox, say, and then modify them with different apps. Markdown should be great for this. Except for the fact that it is like the wild west as far as any Markdown standards.

    I'd consider if I was in your position, Having my digital zettelkasten at home and an analog paper zettelkasten on the road. Transferring and refactoring the notes in the evening.

    Thanks for all your input, Will!

    I work for a healthcare organization so, maintaining medical record privacy is job #1. Hence, the computer restrictions. I can appreciate the reasons for this.

    We do have a wifi 'guest network' in my office. This is what I use when I use my personal laptops at work and is accessible even in my office. Not as fast as the ethernet connection I have connected to my work laptop, but it's OK.

    Realize that what you're suggesting would make things much simpler, if I use one laptop for zettelkasten (and move it around with me if needed instead of complexity of syncing up multiple laptops), and use paper otherwise, then transfer to digital later.

    Otherwise, just use web app from whatever laptop I happen to have with me, including using on my work laptop.

    Think the sensible choices are now clear....

    Thanks!

  • @GeoEng51 said:
    @ArchiMark

    Zettlr works on pretty much any computer platform and is an excellent program. So you could install and use it cross-platform on various computers.

    https://www.zettlr.com/download

    I recommend storing your actual Zettelkasten files in Dropbox (or similar) so that you can access them from any device.

    If you wanted to edit your zettels from a mobile device (which I do frequently), at least in the Apple world, I suggest 1Writer (or iA Writer; for a ZK I like the former a bit better but the latter has more features).

    Thank you for your input, GeoEng51 !

    Started looking at Zettlr today...does look good....will give it a try....

    I use Dropbox on my personal laptops, can't use it on work laptop.

    My work cellphone is iPhone, so, can check out the apps you mention.

    Personal cellphone (Planet Cosmo Communicator) dual boots Android and Debian.

    Thanks!

    Mark

  • Hi! I would suggest you try TiddlyWiki. Amazing app. Very customizable, open-source, cross-platform. You can use the file with your archive on any computer without installing it. It is just HTML but looks like magic.

  • @Sukhovskii said:
    Hi! I would suggest you try TiddlyWiki. Amazing app. Very customizable, open-source, cross-platform. You can use the file with your archive on any computer without installing it. It is just HTML but looks like magic.

    Hi Sukhovskii !

    Thank you for your suggestion and info. Have heard of it, will check it out too.

    Best,

    Mark

  • This is a very good implementation of a knowledge base.
    https://giffmex.org/stroll/stroll.html

  • @Sukhovskii said:
    This is a very good implementation of a knowledge base.
    https://giffmex.org/stroll/stroll.html

    Thanks for sharing the example. Always helpful to see them.

  • Haven't used this myself but it seems fairly comparable to Obsidian in many ways.

    http://www.dendron.so

    Dendron is a plugin to VSCode. VSCode has a portable install mode: https://code.visualstudio.com/docs/editor/portable

    It works solely on Markdown files, so if you can sync the files between machines using something like Dropbox or git then it could work.

  • @davecan said:
    Haven't used this myself but it seems fairly comparable to Obsidian in many ways.

    http://www.dendron.so

    Dendron is a plugin to VSCode. VSCode has a portable install mode: https://code.visualstudio.com/docs/editor/portable

    It works solely on Markdown files, so if you can sync the files between machines using something like Dropbox or git then it could work.

    Thanks for your suggestion, davecan!

    Will look it over.

  • @Sukhovskii said:
    This is a very good implementation of a knowledge base.
    https://giffmex.org/stroll/stroll.html

    First tried Note Self version of TiddlyWiki per Ness Labs Getting Started Tutorial.

    https://nesslabs.com/tiddlywiki-beginner-tutorial

    Then per tutorial, went to get TiddlyBlink.....on that page, saw that developer, is the one that developed replacement for it, called Stroll! small world......

    So, been using Stroll for a bit this morning. Seems very good and since it's html, it runs on browser on my work laptop, data file on one of my storage drives....seems very good so far....but need to use it some more to decide if it's what I want to stick with.

  • @davecan said:
    Haven't used this myself but it seems fairly comparable to Obsidian in many ways.

    http://www.dendron.so

    Dendron is a plugin to VSCode. VSCode has a portable install mode: https://code.visualstudio.com/docs/editor/portable

    It works solely on Markdown files, so if you can sync the files between machines using something like Dropbox or git then it could work.

    In midst of setting up Dendon in VSCode....

    Good news is that there is a 'Portable' VSCode' install option....have to download the zip file, not the other versions.

    Was able to open up VSCode on work laptop successfully this way!

    Will tryout Dendron and then share some comments about it.

  • @ArchiMark There was some discussion on DocuWiki, TiddlyWiki and Stroll in the forum earlier this year. You may find some of the previous discussion useful:

    https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/1617/tiddlywiki-for-zettelkasten-questions-answers-and-experiences

    https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/1598/how-to-use-dokuwiki

  • @GeoEng51 said:
    @ArchiMark There was some discussion on DocuWiki, TiddlyWiki and Stroll in the forum earlier this year. You may find some of the previous discussion useful:

    https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/1617/tiddlywiki-for-zettelkasten-questions-answers-and-experiences

    https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/1598/how-to-use-dokuwiki

    Thank you, GeoEng51 !

    Interesting reading.....

  • @ArchiMark said:

    @davecan said:
    Haven't used this myself but it seems fairly comparable to Obsidian in many ways.

    http://www.dendron.so

    Dendron is a plugin to VSCode. VSCode has a portable install mode: https://code.visualstudio.com/docs/editor/portable

    It works solely on Markdown files, so if you can sync the files between machines using something like Dropbox or git then it could work.

    In midst of setting up Dendon in VSCode....

    Good news is that there is a 'Portable' VSCode' install option....have to download the zip file, not the other versions.

    Was able to open up VSCode on work laptop successfully this way!

    Will tryout Dendron and then share some comments about it.

    Installed Dendron and gave it a quick look.....

    Visually, it looks like you're working on coding an app.......which I've only dipped my toes into....

    Probably not the best environment for me....especially with my old eyes.....(yes, there is a side pane you can open to preview page in a more graphics 'WYSIWYG' look......

    Not saying this is not a good program....just think it's a bit too technical for me, unless I had a lot more time to devote to learning it....compared to TiddlyWiki, Notion, etc....

  • My work cellphone is iPhone, so, can check out the apps you mention.

    While I cannot make suggestions to the laptop and desktop areas for your connection, I can attest the the wonderful interface, ease of use, Dropbox and iCloud integration of the iOS app Taio. It is a plain text editor and will accept MD or .txt files. I was using 1Writer prior to Taio and a week of use with Taio, I don’t have a need or want to go back.

  • @Harvison said:

    My work cellphone is iPhone, so, can check out the apps you mention.

    While I cannot make suggestions to the laptop and desktop areas for your connection, I can attest the the wonderful interface, ease of use, Dropbox and iCloud integration of the iOS app Taio. It is a plain text editor and will accept MD or .txt files. I was using 1Writer prior to Taio and a week of use with Taio, I don’t have a need or want to go back.

    Thanks for the recommendation, Harvison!

    Will check it out...

    Best,

    Mark

  • Hi gang,

    Been spending more time with TiddlyWiki with Stroll and liking it so far.

    It's fairly easy to understand and use, after you use it a while.

    Haven't created a lot of my own content yet, but the little bit I have, it is working well and looks good.

    One key thing I need to do is try taking a copy of my wiki file and using it on another computer to make sure I do have 'portability' that I wanted.

    Will need more time to get more used to the way it works and take better advantage of what it can do. But again, getting into it quite quickly.

    Best,

    Mark

  • @Harvison said:
    While I cannot make suggestions to the laptop and desktop areas for your connection, I can attest the the wonderful interface, ease of use, Dropbox and iCloud integration of the iOS app Taio. It is a plain text editor and will accept MD or .txt files. I was using 1Writer prior to Taio and a week of use with Taio, I don’t have a need or want to go back.

    I quite like 1Writer for interfacing with my Zettelkasten files from iOS. Can you contrast Taio to 1Writer for that purpose? Taio seems to have a steep learning curve. Thanks!

  • @GeoEng51 said:

    I quite like 1Writer for interfacing with my Zettelkasten files from iOS. Can you contrast Taio to 1Writer for that purpose? Taio seems to have a steep learning curve. Thanks!

    I like yourself, was using 1Writer keeping the pathway the same for the root folder. That enabled me to have exactly the same for 1Writer and my Zettelkasten files. The problem I was having with 1Writer, it seemed quite buggy. Clicking on links within files would only work 1/2-3/4 of the time...and that is knowing all links were and are fine. This was always an ongoing thing for me. I was not sure if it was app related, or iCloud related, as everything is stored there for use on both devices, iPhone and Mac. Switching to Taio resolved that issue. All links work as expected. (once all files where in Taio root directory)

    The only drawback with Taio, it does not recognize the hashtag as a tag. I still use them where needed and thus, ready for working in the Mac.

    Now to your question. Both apps are MD editors and able to use .txt or .md. The contrast of the 2, Taio has way more features, making it easier to work in MD on the phone, which is where I do nearly all my writing and research.

    Things Taio has over and above 1Writer:

    • Clips section (basically an area to put as many clipboard pastes as you like, with the ability to paste them later, or as groups together).
    • Snippets (like Text Expander, unlimited amount, fully customizable).
      - This is where I save title code and templates.

    • An Action area with already made actions, or the ability to make your own within the app. (The same as shortcuts iOS, only within the app).

    • Multiple tabs to have as many documents open as you’d like
    • Jump to header feature for long notes
    • Ability to create a clickable index from your headers
    • shows your linked or backlink files
    • An extra toolbar on top of your keyboard like 1Writer for quick markdown keys (2 of the keys are for app features, 1 being the Snippets button mentioned above and the 2nd button is for a view of the most often used markdown keys that are not in the extra keyboard section mentioned above.

    There is more, but that is the basics of what I most often use.

    As far as the learning curve, it seems pretty straightforward. The one problem you will have though, it seems on iOS, apps must have a specific root folder. In my case, I was able to access the files from 1Writer folders in Taio, but only one at a time. New files would go to the wrong folder (Taio iCloud folder) and it would have to be moved later. Another words, you can access iCloud or Dropbox in Taio in the browse section of the app, something you cannot do in 1Witer if it was a reverse scenario.

    I worked like this for nearly a week and when I was finally sold on the app, I moved all the 1Writer (Zettel) files to the default location for the app Taio/Editor and likewise changed the location on the Mac to where the files were moved to.

    I hope this helps and clarifies things a little better for you @GeoEng51.

  • Thanks, Sukhovskii !

    Yes, some very good resources......

    I'd especially like to have a copy of jpentw5's pages to use....nicely done.

  • @Harvison Thanks for that explanation - very helpful!

  • @GeoEng51 said:
    @Harvison Thanks for that explanation - very helpful!

    +1 !

    Thanks!

  • I split off the problem @ArchiMark experienced and the help @bimlas provided into a new discussion: https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/1711/need-help-fixing-a-tiddlywiki-transfer-problem\

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • Been a few weeks since my last post....thought I'd share an update about where I'm at now software-wise....any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    The past month I've mainly fallen down the TiddlyWiki (TW) rabbit hole....lot of nice things about it.....although since it's so flexible and open to customization, it's tempted me to learn about javascript, html, css, etc......which while interesting and intriguing to learn about, is not the reason why I was looking for such a program. A bit nervous about potential distractions and detours with TW.

    So, the past week, I've been looking again at Zettlr and The Archive. They look much more simple (not sure this is the best word to describe it...) and less complicated visually than TW.

    Zettlr is interesting because it's cross platform, well thought out, as well as much simpler than TW as noted above. Need to check out if it's easy to move the data file between computers like with TW. If so, then it's tempting.

    The Archive because it's well thought out and simpler than TW too, but since it's Mac only, it means I'd have to lug my 15" MacBookPro back and forth from the office each day.

    Obsidian seems like a very good program, but I prefer not having to be online to work with a program. Although it solves the cross-platform issue, so, that's tempting.

    Seems like it's more complicated than it needs to be or I'm making it harder than it should be to settle on a program.

    Probably should give Zettlr a good test drive and go from there.....I think..... ;-)

    So it goes......

    Mark

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