Ideas and Validation November 25, 2020

Looking for feedback on my note taking app

Beekey Cheung @ProfessorBeekums

I've been working on a note taking/bookmarking app that's really helped me in many ways. Some friends convinced me to commercialize since they found it useful to.

The product itself feels solid, but the onboarding is probably a challenge. A lot of note taking apps either start blank or have very generic content that applies to everyone but serves no one. My thought is to create a series of blog posts that focus on various niches (e.g. programmers, stock market research, avoiding doomscrolling, etc) and then create initial content for that particular niche.

An example of this for programmers is here I'm also posting a draft blog post below. Would love any thoughts.

I've been a software developer for a long time. A core activity is encountering a strange error and the searching around the internet for hints on the cause. Sometimes I get lucky and the answer is in the first result on Google (which is probably a link to Stack Overflow). In many cases, I actually have to spend hours tweaking search terms and combing through dozens of search results.

Eventually I find the answer though! It may not be clear cut and I have to adapt the information for the system I am working with, but the answer is found anyway. Problem solved.

6 months later... I encounter the same problem again. What search term did I use to find the answer? Even if I remember, dozens of links on the search results page are all clicked so I have to dig through them all again to find the one that I need.

This doesn't happen just once in a while. If it did, I could just use a browser bookmark and never worry about finding things again. This kind of thing happens all the time. Software development is complicated and there are lots of complicated problems. Browser bookmarks are optimal for having say... 3 bookmarks. Not 3 dozen.

I tried keeping notes in Google Docs or Evernote, but having a single document with a bunch of random notes and links isn't super organized. Creating a document for one obscure issue also results in a lot of random documents.

Even if I could organize things nicely in a note taking app, I haven't seen one that actually indexes the content of the link for search. That means to be able to find the information, I have to copy/paste it into a note. Not really ideal.

And so I've fallen back on the tried and true programmer's tactic: I built my own solution. Originally, Dynomantle was just a tool for me, but the feedback from my peers was positive enough that I decided to make it more widely available. I've been able to find stuff much quicker since I started using it for several reasons:

  1. I can just add a bookmark to the app, which will then scrape the url and make the content available in search.
  2. I can add my own notes to a bookmark in case I wanted to summarize a long explanation provided in the content
  3. I can group multiple bookmarks together in case my problem was really specific to me and I needed to stitch together a resolution by collecting information from a variety of sources.

In all cases, the app will index both my notes and the content of my bookmarks to provide a really efficient search of information I've seen in the past.

I've made an example with some of my notes here so you can see how the app works.

  1. 2

    Hi!
    Just a note, I tried clicking into your links to see the examples you wanted to provide but they led to a sign up page.
    Not sure if that was the intention? If it isn't, do let me know when it is showing the examples!

    1. 1

      Ah, I should make that clear! The examples are shown after signing up. I'm basically seeding content that should target a particular niche so that when someone signs up, they have a decent starting point. I should make that clear in the post and the sign up page. Appreciate the feedback!

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