Science and technology

The story behind Joplin, the open supply note-taking app

In this interview, I met up with Laurent Cozic, creator of the note-taking app, Joplin. Joplin was a winner of the 20i rewards, so I needed to seek out out what makes it so successful, and the way he achieved it.

Could you summarize what Joplin does?

Joplin is an open supply note-taking app. It means that you can seize your ideas and securely entry them from any machine.

Obviously, there are different note-taking apps on the market—however aside from it being free to make use of, what makes it completely different?

The indisputable fact that it’s open supply is a vital side for a lot of of our customers, as a result of it means there isn’t any vendor locking on the info, and that knowledge could be simply exported and accessed in varied methods.

We additionally give attention to safety and knowledge privateness, specifically with the synchronization end-to-end encryption function, and by being clear about any connection that the applying makes. We additionally work with safety researchers to maintain the app safer.

Finally, Joplin could be personalized in a number of alternative ways—via plugins, which might add new functionalities, and themes to customise the app look. We additionally expose an information API, which permits third-party functions to entry Joplin knowledge.

[ Related read 5 note-taking apps for Linux ]

It’s a aggressive market, so what impressed you to construct it?

It occurred organically. I began wanting into it in 2016, as I used to be taking a look at present business note-taking functions, and I did not like that the notes, attachments, or tags couldn’t simply be exported or manipulated by different instruments.

This might be as a result of vendor locking and partly an absence of motivation from the seller since they haven’t any incentive to assist customers transfer their knowledge to different apps. There can be a problem with the truth that these firms often will hold the notes in plain textual content, and that may probably trigger points when it comes to knowledge privateness and safety.

So I made a decision to begin making a easy cell and terminal software with sync capabilities to have my notes simply accessible on my units. Later the desktop app was created and the undertaking grew from there.

(, CC BY-SA 4.0)

How lengthy did Joplin take to make?

I’ve been engaged on it on and off since 2016 but it surely wasn’t full time. The previous two years I’ve been focusing extra on it.

What recommendation may you may have for somebody setting to create their very own open supply app?

Pick a undertaking you utilize your self and applied sciences you take pleasure in working with.

Managing an open supply undertaking could be troublesome generally so there must be this ingredient of enjoyable to make it worthwhile. Then I suppose “release early, release often” applies right here, so as to gauge consumer’s curiosity and whether or not it is smart to spend time growing the undertaking additional.

How many individuals are concerned in Joplin’s growth?

There are 3-4 individuals concerned within the growth. At the second we even have six college students engaged on the undertaking as a part of Google Summer of Code.

[ Also read Our journey to open source during Google Summer of Code ]

Lots of individuals create open supply initiatives, but Joplin has been a powerful success for you. Could you supply creators any tips about methods to get observed?

There’s no easy method and to be trustworthy I do not suppose I might replicate the success in a distinct undertaking! You’ve obtained to be captivated with what you are doing but in addition be rigorous, be organized, make regular progress, make sure the code high quality stays excessive, and have loads of check items to forestall regressions.

Also be open to the consumer suggestions you obtain, and attempt to enhance the undertaking based mostly on it.

Once you have obtained all that, the remainder might be right down to luck—if it seems you are engaged on a undertaking that pursuits lots of people, issues may work out nicely!

Once you get observed, how do you retain that momentum going, if you do not have a standard advertising funds?

I believe it is about listening to the neighborhood across the undertaking. For instance I by no means deliberate to have a discussion board however somebody steered it on GitHub, so I made one and it grew to become an effective way to share concepts, talk about options, present assist, and so forth. The neighborhood is usually welcoming of newcomers too, which creates a sort of virtuous circle.

Next to this, it is essential to speak repeatedly in regards to the undertaking.

We do not have a public roadmap, as a result of the ETA for many options is usually “I don’t know”, however I attempt to talk about coming options, new releases, and so forth. We additionally talk about essential occasions, the Google Summer of Code specifically, or when we now have the prospect to win one thing just like the 20i FOSS Awards.

Finally, very quickly we’ll have an in-person meetup in London, which is one other technique to be in contact with the neighborhood and collaborators.

How does consumer suggestions affect the roadmap?

Significantly. Contributors will usually work on one thing just because they want the function. But subsequent to this, we additionally hold observe of the options that appear most essential to customers, based mostly on what we examine on the discussion board and on the GitHub problem tracker.

For instance, the cell app is now excessive precedence as a result of we steadily hear from customers that its limitations and points are an issue to successfully use Joplin.

(, CC BY-SA 4.0)

How do you retain updated with the most recent in dev and coding?

Mostly by studying Hacker News!

Do you may have a private favourite FOSS that you simply’d suggest?

Among the much less well-known initiatives, SpeedCrunch is superb as a calculator. It has loads of options and it is nice the way it retains a historical past of all earlier calculations.

I additionally use KeepassXC as a password supervisor. It has been enhancing steadily over the previous few years.

Finally, Visual Studio Code is nice as a cross-platform textual content editor.

I’d assumed that Joplin was named after Janis, however Wikipedia tells me it is Scott Joplin. What made you select the identify?

I needed to call it “jot-it” at first however I believe the identify was already taken.

Since I used to be listening to Scott Joplin ragtime music quite a bit again then (I used to be just about obsessive about it), I made a decision to make use of his identify.

I believe the which means of a product identify shouldn’t be too essential, so long as the identify itself is straightforward to put in writing, pronounce, keep in mind, and maybe is related to one thing constructive (or at the very least nothing damaging).

And I believe “Joplin” ticks all these packing containers.

Is there something you possibly can say about plans for Joplin? An unique tease of a brand new function, maybe?

As talked about earlier, we’re very eager to make enhancements to the cell app, each when it comes to UX design and new options.

We’re additionally taking a look at making a “Plugin Store” to make it simpler to browse and set up plugins.

Thanks to your time Laurent— better of luck with the way forward for Joplin.

This interview was initially revealed on the 20i blog and has been republished with permission.

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