Note taking on the phone (for Linux folk)

For almost as long as I’ve had a phone I’ve been looking at ways to take notes on it. After all a phone is always handy. The usual tools have the usual problems plain text is too plain, HTML is too verbose to edit by hand, Word is binary…

WordPress is fantastic for taking notes. But what if I wanted to have my notes version controlled? WP has some version control but that’s not as full-fledged as the real thing.

I’m not an easy man to please. I want…

  1. A text based format
  2. Full version control
  3. Support for rich text, images and whatnot
  4. Support for tables

Markdown! Yes, but tables? And how do I edit and render that on my phone? And version control?

Markor is an Android app with both edit and rendering support for Markdown.

I use an app called Termux for version control and HTML tables. It is a Linux environment for Android. It says “emulation” on the tin but it has a package manager, runs most Linux programs and even allows me to compile C++ using gcc. Yes it runs bash, vim, git…

So using markor and termux I have version controlled markdown files on Android.

What about tables? I can embed HTML tables in markdown and Markor does a decent job rendering it. But typing all those tags is a pain.

Remember that termux runs vim?

Emmet is a tool which allows us to quickly generate HTML markup using a few keystrokes. And there is an implementation for vim. So yes, if you run termux and install the Emmet plugin on vim then you have a very handy text based tables right on your Android.

Now I need a markdown renderer which can render an embedded HTML table. It turns out that markor will simply render any HTML embedded in the markdown including tables.

Design Fanboism

“We wanted basically to make the hardware disappear.”

Since when did minimalism become the central design goal of every design of everything under the sun? Immersiveness is fine but only up to a point. The UI is what gives the user control in the environment. He needs to see what tools are at his disposal. Should we blindly adopt a design principle whose most tangible benefit is to reduce manufacturing costs?