In the context of informational overload note-taking apps are living through somewhat of a boom. Roam Research just went viral for fixing the connections between the notes, Notion is used to make websites, Evernote has a recommendation algorithm that helps you find connections between your ideas automatically. For this article we created a graph of the best note-taking tools in InfraNodus based on the features and functionalities they have.
What is the best note taking app to choose in this productivity heaven? This really depends on your needs: whether you need to just organize your ideas or if you also need to store PDF documents and have a way of presenting your knowledge to the outside.
If it’s all of that at once then the winner is the Notion app as it helps you work with all three. However, this may sometimes come at the cost of simplicity, especially if you are just interested in the note-taking side of things.
A good time-tested solution is Evernote. Its advantage is a good handwriting recognition module and relative interface simplicity, which, nevertheless, makes it possible to organize your knowledge into projects and categories. Evernote has a recommendation system showing you the links between the notes, but it does not have a visualization module. However, you can import your Evernote notes into InfraNodus and find interesting connections between them. Both Notion and Evernote have native iPad and mobile app versions, which great for synchronization among the devices.
If you love networks, you will also love Roam Research and Obsidian. Both use markdown and [[wiki-links]] to enable connections between the different notes or blocks of ideas. Something like this has been possible for ages with Zettelkasten (The Archive app) but they didn’t implement it as well as the first two. Both have a visualization module that shows all your connections as a network graph. Foam is an open-source alternative to RoamResearch and Obsidian, and it works on the basis of Git version control system and Visual Studio Code code editor. (By the way, just click the apps on the graph to see their respective websites).
Researchers who work with PDF documents will appreciate the advanced functionality of DevonThink and Zotero. Both apps allow you to manage a corpus of PDF documents organized by categories and tags and to make notes, which will be linked to the documents. Mendeley is another PDF organizer but it doesn’t have the notes capability and it has an annoying sign-in dialogue.
For those who like to draw and make sketches Microsoft’s OneNote can be a good option. Another interesting solution is Simplenote, which is like a paired down version of Evernote.
Most of these applications save their notes either in .txt or Markdown format, which can then be visualized in InfraNodus as a text network graph. This way you don’t have to manually make connections between your notes. You can simply add them all in and see what are the main terms and topical clusters that connect them. InfraNodus can also be used for note-taking and you have multiple syntaxes to choose from: whether you want to use standard tags, @mentions and #hashtags or [[wiki-links]] directly inside the app.