I am radiologist doctor from India. I started taking notes digitally while I was doing my post graduation during 2012-14. The main purpose was to dump whatever new things I learn about radiology from different sources like books, Facebook groups, digital educational posters, educational websites into a single place from where it was easy for me to retrieve them for my future references. My inspiration was one of my senior during my post graduation days, who used Evernote for his note taking. I used OneNote for my notes though. Data stored in OneNote were mostly text and images. I had tried Evernote in between, but never liked it like OneNote or never used it consistently enough to understand it fully. I was satisfied with the results (means I could easily search and find things from OneNote whenever I needed them during my practice).
Don’t remember exactly when, but mostly in the beginning of 2020, I started trying out note taking apps other than OneNote or Evernote. This search was not for myself but for my wife. She is doing her post graduation currently. She was used to taking handwritten notes before. But from what I had seen, her notes were all scattered in different notebooks and hence it was difficult to retrieve. So based on my experience, I suggested her to start taking notes digitally. Obviously I suggested her OneNote since
- I already had a good experience with it.
- OneNote also had the option for handwritten notes which was her favored mode of taking notes.
- The amount of data needed to be stored was also not a problem since I had a Microsoft office subscription.
But I found taking handwritten notes to be too slow. So I started searching for other note taking apps so that she could cover all topics before her exams. I couldn’t find anything better in my initial sporadic searches. Somehow I stumbled upon notion (must be after seeing Ali Abdaals videos), and it felt interesting on first look since it was different from whatever apps I had used before.
That’s when i started thinking about making a shift from OneNote for my own notes. Another reason for the shift was due to the huge increase in online radiology educational contents in twitter, telegrams, YouTube compared to the time when I started using OneNote. So I wanted to add such interesting tweets or videos to my notes app. Since OneNote for Mac was lacking in many features compared to windows version, I needed an app which can embed tweets, YouTube or short case videos. Notion had all these features. But the free plan of Notion had 5MB limit for single file attachment if I remember correctly. Most of the case videos were more than 5MB in size. So I started searching in google and YouTube for apps similar to notion.
Thus came the Roam research from a video by Thomas Frank but it’s beta was closed by that time. But I wanted to check out the idea of bidirectional linking. So the search continued for free alternatives of Roam research. Thats when i saw a video by Shu omi regarding the same. From that video, Remnote and tiddlywiki got me interested. After initial try outs of both remnote and tiddlywiki, I liked remnote more than tiddly. This happened during May 2020. During this period I was entirely into remnote and made several notes using remnote. The main purpose of taking notes during that time was to learn to use remnote. Remnote however was a tough nut to crack initially. I had to go through the few available YouTube videos about remnote many times (this was the period before official remnote tutorial videos started). I also depended much on the discord discussions. I even made notes from those discord discussion. It was through remnote discord that I came to know about discords of most other note taking apps and even “the productivist” discord.
But remnote was lacking in the ability to embed tweets and iframe embeds. I had asked for addition of those features to the developer . But those features didn’t came when I wanted them (now I guess tweets can be saved into remnote using a third party plug in or using a tweetbot). Also image copy pasting in remnote was buggy at that time. So I was forced to try out tiddlywiki once again. And this time I decided to read through the tiddlywiki google group and it helped me to find many useful features. I tried out many plug ins from the tiddlywiki toolmap also and selected plug ins which were useful for my purpose. Thus I made a custom tiddly wiki for myself.
Now tiddlywiki is my only note taking app. My notes include mostly text (wikitext), embedded media including images, videos, embedded tweets, embedded pdf documents and webpages. Images, videos and pdfs are saved in my one-drive and I embed them in tiddlywiki to reduce the size of the tiddlywiki file. While writing this post only I realised that I could embed media in notion also in a similar manner from an external source (haven’t tried it out yet). But notion seemed little slow for my liking and also it doesn’t have local only saving option.
Things making me stick with tiddly might be
- Satisfaction of making my own version of tiddlywiki
- I understood that the “on demand features” of all current note taking app like hyperlinking, tagging, transclusion, aliasing, filtering, graphs were already present in tiddlywiki for many years.
- it’s a mature software with smooth, slick experience (best among all the apps I have used).
- It’s still being actively developed.
- Single file tiddlywiki needs only a browser to run it.
- data is stored locally.
- There is an option to use markdown if needed( although I haven’t used it yet).
- I think I can trust it more than other new apps to survive for a longer time.
- finally it’s free.
One thing i found lacking in tiddlywiki in the initial period was the lack of outliner functionality. But with a plug in called streams, that issue also is solved now( it’s still being developed, so it can only improve from here on). With this plug in, each tiddler is considered as a node or block, we can indent, unindent, navigate through blocks using keyboard shortcuts. We can expand and collapse blocks/ nodes also. Thus block referencing is also easier now.
Other thing to improve in tiddlywiki is the web clipper. Although it can clip contents from webpages and pdfs(pdf clipping I haven’t seen in any web clippers extensions till now), I want it to behave more like remnote web clipper or eloquent web clipper for Roam by opening an instance of tiddly as a side window in the webpage being clipped to give real time editing while clipping possible.
That’s all for now. If anyone needs to know more about the plug ins I use, I can share it.
Hope I didnt miss anything. Sorry for making a long post. I was just sharing my experience. Never intend to say that tiddlywiki is the best or perfect. Just that it’s the one that i plan to use till I find something better suited for me.