r/linux Notetaking App with infinite canvas, pdf & handwritten note/stylus support
posted by u/LieGroundbreaking833
on 20 Nov 2021
I have searched for days and weeks to find a note taking app, which is I guess similar to OneNote or Goodnote but I haven't found anything similar/as capable as these apps. As I invested many hours, I want to share my overview, it might help sb else.
I know there are many old posts, guides and webpages recommending all sorts of apps, but they don't offer a modern handwriting/stylus solution which can get close to apps for other platforms and I am not the only one looking ambitiously for an alternative which has the following features:
- stylus/touch/drawing tablet/handwriting support
- infinite canvas (x & y)
- import pdf/image (into infinite canvas, so that if there is no space left on a pdf page, you can take notes around the page, or even replace all pdf slides e.g. building a mindmap or sth like that --> infinite canvas)
- (no cloud subscription, data saved locally/self hosted)
I would be more than happy if someone can recommend more apps or even share one which fits my needs. But I guess something like this doesn`t exist yet, as there a not many Linux users using touch and stylus. But I was still surprised how many apps for touchscreens or stylus-like-devices I was able to find. I even considered buying a MS Surface, but then again, I am trapped within the OneDrive ecosystem, even if I would somehow run OneNote on Linux...
But let`s get to the overview, hopefully I can help someone looking for a similar solution and who might be less complicated than me ;-) :
- ..probably the closest to onenote/goodnote
- + handwritten notes
- + pdf, pictures, many features considering import/export
- + it is a real "office" application... but
- - no infinite canvas (on github however there is an open issue as a request, so in future this feature might be added)
- + infinite canvas
- + amazing usability and very modern
- + probably the smallest file size ever, not saved as a vector graphic
- - only drawing, no pdf support
- + infinite canvas
- + import of all sorts of files
- + nice cross platform support, but no android(/ios) which is not bad as it can be used as webapp, which is very stable
- ~ all elements are on sth like a little "virtual posted note" which can be dragged around within the canvas... everytime you add sth you first have to create this posted note. If you want to sth more complex (draw sth bigger, move single pdf pages, etc) it will be very hard. BUT this is maybe just sth i don`t like and other people might enjoy this. For me it feels more like a really good and more feature rich Google Keep alternative, not a complex office app- no infinite drawing canvas (only separate drawings on "posted notes", which can be moved around)
- + amazing cross platform support
- + probably best organization of notes
- + it feels like the most advanced and stable note app I have tested so far
- ~ very advanced markdown like app, which is very neat for keyboard users but...
- - no "handwriting/stylus"--> other similar markdown-written-like-note apps are Joplin, BoostNote (good for devs), CherryTree, Turtl, Zim Wiki, Tomboy
- + handwriting/stylus
- + cross platform
- ~ canvas is infinite but ugly A3 landscape like boarder, which can`t be disabled
- - not good for typing notes
- - organization of notes: ...well rather a whiteboard app I would use as a teacher
I have already looked at apps like LibreOffice Draw, Inkscape, Gimp, Photopea, Milton etc but I really think these a great if you use them for ...well... for what they are built for but not as a notetaking (OneNote/Goodnote) app.
rNote (thx to u/NorphTM & u/bevsxyz)
- + usability very close to One-/Goodnote
- + canvas can be expanded manually infinitely
- ~ pdf and text boxes are not supported yet, but are included on a ToDo List
- ... the app looks very promising, also touch input is nice, I like it
Obsidian (thx to u/eugoreez & u/OneTwothpick)
- + full cross platform support
- + Links with neat graph view for structuring notes
- + markdown note taking app
- + Plugin Excalidraw: "drawing board" plugin, draw a diagram/scratch and insert it into a markdown file....
- ~ you get the infinite canvas drawing app and your note file separated and can insert one in the other but you can't draw over your typed notes or move pdf pages around your notes
- - can't annotate multi page pdfs file with stylus within your notes
Stylus Labs (thx to u/Atemu12)
- + canvas can be freely adjusted and scaled, even after being written on, so infinite canvas can be easily built
- ~ App still works with pages but its not a big deal, one can just setup a massive canvas with one page. It can be also be set to as a default if you start new notes.
- + cross platform (linux, android, ios, mac, windows)
- - pdf import only as img, not a full document
- ~ pdf converter-script to convert pdfs to filetype of stylus lab --> this way on a pdf can be written on and you can manually expand the page size of the pages. Very useful for people looking for a pdf annotation tool (and also to write sth next to it), but its not the infinite canvas drag and drop experience you might be looking for.