#2021-06-02: Perfect Notes

A Linear Text prototype.


Notes have always been an important part of my life. I've taken copious notes since I was 12, maybe longer. I think of notes as a kind of second brain or living thing of its own. I lost all my data in a 2011 burglary and it really felt like losing a big piece of my own mind that I haven't gotten over.

As a kid, I used a waterproof notebook and pen. They held up to the rigors of my pocket well. I've made many changes since, have always been dissatisfied, and am always looking for something better.

The latest apps are no different. I am totally enamored with how sexy they are but pretty soon I am totally lost in the UI and my data is trapped in their proprietary formats. I can export Trello to JSON, sure, but how do I make sense of it?

I've been making due with Markdown for years and I like it well enough. I just want something a little more list-centric and with a more pleasing UI that makes me feel good.

I don't have a name for such a thing yet but I've been calling it "Perfect Notes" for the time being.

#What is it?

I am still figuring that out. Here's what I think it is at the moment:

  • The text is the UI and the UI is text. The two representations always correspond so use whichever you prefer whenever you prefer.
  • The underlying data format is a CSV (actually, I use tab-delimited).
  • If your CSV header includes Perfect Notes columns, they will be used. If not, sensible defaults will be used and the original data format won't be changed.
  • Each row of the CSV is represented as a fragment in the UI. Fragments supports a few possible data sources including:
    • x and y: position.
    • thing: how to visually represent the fragment. Two types are supported currently: photo and note.
    • text: if the thing supports a text field, it will be used.
    • image: if the thing supports an image, it will be used.
  • No newlines :]

I'm still uncovering interesting ways the pieces fit together. I want the UI to correspond to text and vice-versa so, for example, cards that are close together in the UI are grouped in the CSV. Similarly, the markdown feels a lot more natural when the first column is text.

#What will I use it for?

  • I want a nice way to keep lists.
  • I want to track things that are important to me. For example, my favorite songs or favorite Nintendo games.
  • I want to be able to organize my thoughts in a more visual way and be able to switch to plain text seamlessly and losslessly.
  • I want my notes to feel real and special like a scrapbook or a personal journal without compromising on plain text or having to carry a physical object.
  • I want a nice way to manage personal projects like my game.


#9 months

Screenshot of 9 months rendered.text.

text    thing    x    y    z    w    h    rotate    background    created    modified

# Within nine months…    note    403    13        287    53    0.19        2021-05-10T16:08:35.641Z    2021-05-11T03:03:59.752Z
February 10th, 2022    note    511    66        287    53    -1.29        2021-05-10T16:08:51.335Z    2021-05-10T23:47:09.138Z
(258 days remain)    note    654    26        287    53    0.28        2021-05-11T03:03:08.420Z    2021-05-28T16:05Z

We will have a house or we won't.    note    410    163        287    53    -0.18        2021-05-10T16:09:16.235Z    2021-05-11T02:58:04.787Z
My hair will be longer if I let it grow.    note    408    219        287    53    -0.08        2021-05-10T16:09:52.626Z    2021-05-11T02:58:07.141Z
If I stay at Facebook…    note    408    277        287    53    -1.15        2021-05-10T16:10:17.313Z    2021-05-11T02:58:09.652Z
I will be eligible to change teams.    note    448    328        287    53    -0.44        2021-05-10T16:10:36.308Z    2021-05-11T02:58:13.052Z
I will be significantly wealthier.    note    448    378        287    53    -0.79        2021-05-10T16:10:51.535Z    2021-05-11T02:58:15.636Z
I will vacation.    note    406    435        287    53    -1        2021-05-10T16:11:17.534Z    2021-05-11T02:58:19.012Z

I'll have improved clarity on…    note    400    499        287    53    1.48        2021-05-10T16:12:15.943Z    2021-05-11T02:58:20.892Z
…Quitting.    note    452    551        287    53    -1.39        2021-05-10T16:17:15.965Z    2021-05-11T03:00:27.991Z
…Returning to school and which school and major/minor.    note    456    607        287    74    -0.77        2021-05-11T02:58:41.386Z    2021-05-11T03:00:30.190Z
…Which computer to buy.    note    453    686        287    53    1.05        2021-05-11T02:58:55.787Z    2021-05-11T03:00:33.574Z
…What I value most in tech and design.    note    450    741        287    74    0.26        2021-05-10T16:18:08.025Z    2021-05-11T03:00:35.158Z
I will be thinner if I eat less.    note    415    812        287    53    -0.43        2021-05-10T23:45:19.484Z    2021-05-11T03:00:38.142Z


Screenshot of markdown rendered.

text    thing    x    y    z    w    h    rotate    background    created    modified

# Show me the Markdown    note    517.5    452.5        287    48            2021-06-03T05:15Z    2021-06-03T05:15Z
- Ah, well I don't actually support much very well yet!    note    535    504        287    67            2021-06-03T05:15Z    2021-06-03T05:15Z
- These are list items and dogeared for some reason.    note    538    574        287    67            2021-06-03T05:16Z    2021-06-03T05:16Z

## I only actually support Markdown applicable to the whole note currently. Effects are currently subtle as I haven't figured out to make them nice but not distracting :]    note    853    454        287    163            2021-06-03T05:16Z    2021-06-03T05:17Z

> I'm a blockquote believe it or not.    note    701    685        287    46            2021-06-03T05:15Z    2021-06-03T05:15Z
>> Here's like a doubly indented blockquote boi.    note    703    734        287    67            2021-06-03T05:15Z    2021-06-03T05:16Z

#Some photos

Screenshot of some photos rendered.


I've been taking a no modesty approach to coding and just pounding out most stuff. The current technology happens to be Svelte and TypeScript. Everything is frontend currently. Trying to decide whether to use Google Drive API for most of the backend or use Electron and stick to native. Firefox support sucks because of lacking File API.


It's been fun to think about and to think with. It's one of those bootstrapping tools that you can use to help build itself which I think is extra fun.