Recently someone on Slack posted a question about using Standard Notes for a Zettelkasten. I didn't know what that was and of course the name was intriguing so I had to google. Many, many hours and days later, I am still doing research but at this point have probably installed every Zettelkasten/markdown app there is and tried it out. To add to that, I didn't really know what markdown was either other than a bunch of extended editors in SN that I tried but didn't want to take the time to figure out what they were doing or why, that is until I started this whole Zettelkasten investigation. Within just a few hours though I had uninstalled all other editors from SN and now only have the advanced markdown as well as the task list and 2FA editors. Now that I see the power of markdown, I'm planning on using it everywhere.
After trying all of those apps, I think I have settled on the program Zettlr which seems like a very robust and mature app. Where I'm struggling is that I think I like it more than Standard Notes for a lot of reasons.
- It has spellcheck!! Seems like such a basic feature to be missing from SN. I didn't realize how much over time I've come to rely on it until I didn't have it anymore.
- More contrast between different markdown tags. I've been trying to play with themes in SN to accomplish something similar and I'm still working on it. Like I said in a previous post, I'm new to CSS and have a lot to learn.
- Links between pages and within pages. Even though as of now I'm not doing a Zettelkasten I've already started to make use of the links and it's just such a nice fit for me and really helps my workflow.
- This one is both a pro and a con, but one of the design goals was that files created by Zettlr should not be dependent on the app, meaning I could take those files, even with links, and substitute any other markdown editor and be able to keep going. I say that it is also a con because where everything is encrypted "out of the box" with SN, Zettlr just stores files on the drive and so I would need to come up with a scheme to encrypt them. This isn't a big deal, but Zettlr seems to have a bug where it can't delete files from anything other than normal drives, i.e. specialized encrypted software drives don't delete properly. Not a deal breaker but definitely a nuisance.
- Virtual directories that allow me to add and order files in any sequence. This is a feature I've liked for some time about another app I've used - Scrivener, and something I will make use of often.
- The ability to create projects, which is a feature that allows you to group folders and subfolders together to be aggregated together on export making them one long text. This means I could easily take on a large scale writing project and get it to a mostly finished product within the app. The same would be difficult to do on SN.
So the only real con is the lack of native encryption. To that end I think I'm going to start using Zettlr for most of my day to day things and a large writing project I plan on undertaking. I will continue to use Standard Notes for publishing here and for all personal/journal type things that I want to be sure remain private. I won't lie, I really hope that one day Standard Notes can become my go-to app again. I love the idea behind it, I love the COMMUNITY behind it, and I want to stay close to it and keep rooting that it will become a defacto standard for everyone.