TL; DR: Joplin is a cloud-hosted note-taking application that features a growing ecosystem of free tools and customizations. Cross-platform compatibility allows users to import and export Joplin notes and notebooks to different devices and storage platforms. The company plans to add more innovative options, including Joplin Cloud, which allows users to subscribe to a hosted storage and note-sharing solution.
Note-taking has been around since the dawn of civilization, but people today have increasingly high-tech note tools to stay organized, connected, and productive.
However, modern notes are often siloed to specific apps or platforms that don’t interact or integrate well. That can frustrate workers and limit how much they can rely on their devices for note-taking. It’s a problem that results in many different applications on the marketplace, but few that are interoperable.
Joplin offers tagging and notebook features that give users many ways to manage and export notes while emphasizing information portability as an open-source note-taking application.
“I started in 2017 simply wanting a note-taking app that would work on my mobile phone and my desktop,” said Laurent Cozic, Main Developer and Creator of Joplin. “There were no options at the time, and it was getting more and more locked down.”
Over the past few years, Joplin added new integrations and features, and interest began building in the project. Now, users can download Joplin for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS — and the features continue to grow along with Joplin’s popularity.
Its interfaces are similar across devices, creating a consistent experience for users. They can also adjust Joplin to fit their needs and preferences. Wide-ranging file and formatting support for notes and multimedia attachments are a bonus, according to Laurent.
“It grew over time, generating interest from various people. So we started supporting more and more technology,” Laurent said.
Users — Not Joplin — Own Their Notes and Data
Laurent initially created Joplin based on his own need for a note-taking app. He wanted to make sure that everyone could use their data effectively. So Joplin allows users to carry their notes around and retain metadata, import notes from other programs, including Evernote, and export Joplin notes over to other applications.
Users can also customize Joplin to fit their needs. It designed plugins, appearance, and synchronization customizations to facilitate backups and movement across different applications. Notes open within any external text editor, including lighter editors such as Notepad++. More than one text editor — including Markdown or Rich Text — is available, and users can select custom themes and scripts and use the Extension API.
The desktop, mobile, and terminal apps support notebooks and subnotebooks for organization functionality. Users can also attach files to notes, and Joplin supports a variety of file types. For example, audio, PDF, and video files can attach directly and even display within Joplin notes.
Users can set alarms via desktop or mobile app and link them to particular to-do items, creating notifications. Note-takers can customize everything to their needs, and technical users often code their own changes since Joplin is entirely open-source. Rather than waiting for the owner of proprietary software to add updates, users can adapt Joplin to their own specifications at any time.
“Another key point is people own their own data with Joplin,” Laurent added, “They know they can always share their notes, they can switch to different synchronization, target, and share anything with anybody.”
Sharing and collaboration capabilities across platforms are two of Joplin’s most powerful features. Laurent said he believes they are also the software’s biggest differentiators. Many, if not most, competing note applications lock users into a single platform with limited ability to transfer data to other software or operating systems.
Even if the text can transfer between applications, some of the formatting data may be lost or modified. Laurent said that Joplin makes notes synchronization much easier and more reasonable for everyday users to leverage in their personal lives and professional careers.
Compatibility and Synchronization Are Keys to the Platform’s Success
Unlike proprietary software, open-source software is free and accessible, making it an ideal business model for a note-taking company like Joplin, Laurent said.
“From what I’ve discussed with other people, it matters to them. So I use an open standard,” he told us.
With an open-source community contributing to the project, users have a hand in shaping Joplin’s future features and compatibility. Laurent said he is also proud of Joplin’s impact on communities. He points to the company’s role in academic research, providing universities with a reliable way to take and manage notes. Students and teachers also qualify for a 50% education discount on Joplin Cloud to help them make the most of its features.
The open-source standard is just one attractive part of Joplin’s value proposition for users. It offers other advantages regularly associated with enterprise note-taking applications, including streamlined workflows, improved productivity, and stronger collaboration. Joplin’s cross-platform compatibility allows users to save notes in Dropbox, OneDrive, Nextcloud, and other cloud-hosted services and file systems. In addition, metadata and tagging save as plain text files to facilitate data transfer.
Users can easily collaborate with Joplin by uploading their files to the cloud and sharing URLs. End-to-end encryption makes it easier to transfer notes securely, added Laurent, and Joplin makes the process easier — even for non-technical users.
Joplin Cloud is a hosted service that allows users to publish, collaborate and store notes. Its affordable monthly plans include storage and support. Users can add notes to notebooks shared with them, automatically update notebooks with new changes, and access higher-performance synchronization.
Laurent said he believes that his company’s new cloud offering provides more robust options for Joplin users and helps secure the application’s future as a trusted collaboration hub.
Joplin: Secure, Future-Focused Collaboration Tools
In the future, Laurent said he sees even more collaborative innovations for Joplin. He noted that some institutions are creating their own instances of Joplin, giving their workforces the additional controls and flexibility they need for in-house work.
And Joplin community developers continue adding functionality for other adjustments.
“So information can be dropped into clouds more easily, or shell boards,” said Laurent. “I want to go more toward collaboration and sharing on projects.”
As Joplin develops, collaboration will become an even bigger priority. Many users create plugins that they share with the community. A growing number of developers contribute to Joplin by building out the available options into a budding ecosystem other users can reference before building new customizations.
Joplin is building the future of notes with its accessible and cloud-hosted tools. And the company offers users the opportunity to grow and develop alongside it.