Best Note-Taking App Notion or Joplin?

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Notion vs. Joplin, Which is the Best Note-Taking App?

Note-Taking used to be simple.  You pick up a piece of paper and a pen and start writing.  Thanks to Charles Babbage, who invented the computer, we now have many choices for taking notes.  We can use the old fashion way of pen and paper or use applications on our phones, tablets, or computers.

Note-Taking used to be simple.  You pick up a piece of paper and a pen and start writing.  Thanks to Charles Babbage, who invented the computer, we now have many choices for taking notes.  We can use the old fashion way of pen and paper or use applications on our phones, tablets, or computers.

Furthermore, there are tons of note-taking apps available to us today. For instance, Microsoft OneNote, Apple Notes, Evernote, Google Keep, Simplenote, Notion, and Joplin.  And these are not all of them, as there are tons more.  With so many applications within our reach, it is hard to know which app is right for you.  That is why today, I am looking at Notion and Joplin. Let’s start with Notion first.

Notion

Notion provides a powerful, database-driven note-taking experience that is unlike most apps that are available today.  It is available on Mac, iOS, Android, Windows, and through a browser.

Flexible Pages For Your Note-Taking

With Notion, the only limiting factor is your mind.  You can create your own template to include a multi-layer collection of pages. The application also lets you embed media, photos, and videos to meet your every need. So, you can take your note-taking experience to the next level.

Powerful Tables For Note-Taking

Tables in Notion are not just for charts; they are databases.  Think of Notion’s databases as Google Docs and Google Sheets; Every row in a table is its own Notion page that you can go into and keep updated. Furthermore, you can do calculations using this app.

Nested hierarchical organization

With Notion you can turn a set of text into a dropdown so you can roll them up with you want non-immediate information out of the way.

Hybrid editor

Writing inside Notion is easy as it uses Markdown.  Markdown is a lightweight markup language for creating formatted text using a plain-text editor. But if you don’t know Markdown don’t worry as you can use normal keyboard shortcuts and User Interface elements to format your text.

Costs

The best part of Notion is that it is free for personal accounts.  Do you need a team account?  Well, that will cost you $8.00 a month.  In reality, it is not very expensive at all.  Especially since it can be used for multiple purposes besides note-taking and a to-do list. Now let’s look at the cons.

Formatting

Let’s face the fact that Notion has its quirks in the editing department.  This is due to the fact that Notion uses the block system.  Every paragraph is considered a block.  Each block can be moved around, changed into different elements, labeled and colored.  The downside is that once you select more than one block you are selecting blocks and not text.  Presently Notion is a great data storage app, but it is not great for a writing app. 

No Offline Support

The other drawback to Notion is that you need to have an Internet connection to use it.  Now, Notion is working on this problem, but it has not been fixed as of yet.  Also, the data is stored on their servers.  There is not an option to store the data elsewhere.

Security

Notion uses TLS everywhere, within the data center and out.  The data is encrypted at rest and in transit.  They run 100% on the cloud using AWS within a virtual private network that cannot be accessed by the public internet, except for their public-facing proxy servers.

E2EE

Now, Notion does not support End-to-end encryption (E2EE) where only the communicating users can read the information.  This type of communication provides better security than what Notion is offering.   Also, Notion employees do have access to the data.  Now Notion claims that only under certain situations will the employees look at the data.  However, all it takes is one bad employee or a security breach that would compromise everything that I have stored.   It is up to you but as a consultant who sometimes has access to client’s data, there is no way that I feel comfortable using Notion for the consulting side of my business.  I am not willing to jeopardize my clients nor my data.

Now let’s look at Joplin.

Joplin

One of the best features of Joplin is that it is open-source software.  Which means it is totally, 100% free.  Now Joplin is not as feature-packed and versatile as Notion.  However, it comes with great tools that can go a long way in enhancing your notetaking.  Like Notion, the app comes with a handy web clipper to let you easily save web pages and screenshots from your browser.

Availability

Joplin is available on Windows, MAC, Linux, Android and iOS.

Sync

Another great feature of Joplin is that you can decide where you want your data stored.  It can be stored on NextCloud, Dropbox, WebDAV, and OneDrive so that all your data remains secure and quickly accessible across your devices. 

Security

Joplin offers end-to-end encryptions so that your data has the much-needed safeguard.  It also supports a lot of plugins and allows you to import data from Evernote.

 Note Version History

One excellent feature is that Joplin lets you access your note version history.  It will save your last 90 days’ of history, but it can be changed to a max of 750 days.

Supports Templates

Joplin does support templates; however, it does not offer any to start.  You need to create your own templates if you want to use them.

Formatting Options

Joplin has a ton of formatting options available to you.  You can use Markdown language or HTML.  These include code blocks, quotations, several kinds of formatted lists, tables, inline images, and attachments of all kinds.  You cannot create audio memos using the Joplin app, so you will have to create the file with another app and upload an audio file.

Cons

Joplin is not as feature-rich as other applications like Evernote and Microsoft OneNote.  It is missing collaboration support, optical character recognition (OCR) on images and PDFs, sketching and handwriting, email forwarding, and mobile scanning. If you don’t need these features, then this app may be for you.

Support is Limited


Since Joplin is an open-source application, there is no support available other than the support limited to forums.

Summary

There are a lot of benefits to using both apps. It boils down to how well each app will fit your particular situation. If security is a major concern, consider Joplin. If you like the ability to collaborate, then consider Notion. Which app will you use and why? Please leave me your thoughts down below.

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