I discovered Evernote a few months ago. A lot of people are using it for saving all kinds of notes, pictures etc. Obviously they are happy with it, and are writing and talking about it. I decided to give it a try and although I thought it was a nice service, I didn’t have much use of it, and I forgot about it.
It’s only a few days ago that I that I thought it would be nice to have a central place where I can save all my notes, instead of having them in paper format or small files in different parts of my hard drive. A remote access would be nice to have too.
So I thought again about Evernote a few days ago. I started to use it, and I liked the use of notebooks and tags for organizing the notes. But something bothered me: I didn’t own my data.
Looking for alternatives Google+ came to my mind. I tested it for note taking. It supports hashtags, circles can be used as replacement for notebooks, there is a nice app on Android & iPhone, and it’s possible to download the data with Takeout. But the downloaded posts are just a bunch of HTML files that aren’t easy to sort unless you use grep extensively.
Then WordPress came to my mind. It is possible to sort the posts in categories ( = notebooks) and to tag them. Basically it is possible to use WordPress as an Evernote replacement. And there’s a WordPress app too on Android & iPhone. Googling for “wordpress evernote alternative” I found this page (in french). Happily I wasn’t alone on this track and I found good advice there.
Basically we need a domain name and a hosting. Once we installed WordPress there, we must tell search engines to not index our site by changing this option in the Reading settings:
Since we want an Evernote alternative, we need some privacy – we don’t want everybody to read our notes, isn’t?
Probably we won’t have much visitors other than ourselves if the site is not indexed, but it’s better to have another layer of privacy. Following the site I mentioned earlier, I installed the plugin Absolute Privacy. The presentation says that it hasn’t been updated for two years, but it looks to work correctly with the most recent versions of WordPress.
We choose Complete Lockdown in order to remove the possibility for external visitors to read our notes. Any visitor trying to access our site will be presented a WordPress login box.
Then we can add other plugins according to our needs:
I like the plugin Press this reloaded. It is a better alternative to the bookmarklet Press this that we can find in the Tools section. This will allow us to easily write a note about a web page without leaving it.
Since we are using WordPress as a place to store all of our notes, we want to find them easily. Of course there is a search motor embedded. We can (should!) as well create some Categories to which our notes will belong to, and tag our notes correctly.
These categories and tags should be visible – for instance with a menu and a tag cloud – in order to quickly display the notes and find the one we’re looking for.
For looking at several notes at a glance, I suggest to use a WordPress theme with a grid layout. I found one – sober but beautiful- that I like: Themolio.
And that’s it! A nice and easy way to manage our notes!