Taking Notes From Browser

How many times you had a brilliant idea only to forget before you note it down? Smartphones have hugely reduced this problem with easy access to notes but I still think there are too many clicks involved in taking notes.

Here’s usual note taking workflow

  1. Homescreen
  2. Notes
  3. Select or create notes

But that is if you are not already using another application like a browser. This adds “back to homescreen” click as first click, increasing count to 4 clicks. Yes I think 4 clicks are too many!

Now consider this workflow

  1. New tab
  2. Type note

That’s it. I like this for 2 reasons. First, very few clicks and second, I am not living application and breaking my main workflow with the tab other than new notes tab. Enters

PI Notes

The name will get clear in a moment. I needed a 24x7 online system that could handle the note coming from a browser. The obivious candidate was Raspberry PI sitting in my closet. Hence the name PI Notes.

The note that you type in address bar goes to Raspberry PI as a GET request hosting a simple server written in GoLang. Here’s a sample note:

pin todo!an app that can consume notes from browser address bar

The ! acts as a separator between file name and actual note. Server on PI parses above request and adds the string after ! to todo.md. pin is the keyword that tells the browser to select the search engine for the request, in this case, PI Notes. The keyword mechanism may differ from browser to browser.

Here are few other examples

pin todo!an app that can consume notes from browser address bar 
pin grocery!tea, vegetables # Adds item to grocery list
pin readlater!https://bit.ly/3qp581r # Adds item to my reading list
pin random!random item # Adds random item to random document.md

It’s obvious that a browser address bar is okay if you are taking a short note but it is terrible if you are researching a topic on web and want to take Notes. Enters

PI Notes Browser Extension

This extension uses PI Notes as a backend and supports Markdown editing.

Known Issues

  • Notes are not accessible outside home network currently. You can use VPN but that seems like an overkill for notes application.
  • Currently there is no mobile application to view notes but you can easily view notes by mapping the remote notes location with Solid Explorer and using a markdown viewer like Markor. Note that notes are always accessible from browser by calling server URL but these can be viewed in plain text only.

Final words

I needed something that can be used to take notes with little effort while at the same time I did not wanted my notes to end up in some cloud. This workflow is working great for me.

If you are interested in setting this up, head over to PI Notes respository.