Friday, March 11, 2016

Quiver, a "Programmer's Notebook"

I recently came across Quiver which is described as a "notebook built for programmers. It lets you easily mix text, code, Markdown and LaTeX within one note, edit code with an awesome code editor, live preview Markdown and LaTeX, and find any note instantly via the full-text search."

I downloaded the trial and played with it. There is much to like in this application. I am not a programmer, but I do like the way Quiver handles text, markdown, and pictures. I also like its search capabilities: "Quiver's full-text search is based on Search Kit, the same technology used to power Spotlight on your mac. That's how Quiver can search through thousands of notes in a blink of an eye." I also like that it "stores data in a well-documented plain JSON format. So it’s easy to write scripts to integrate Quiver notes with other tools you use. Common scripts are provided on the Quiver documentation site." Furthermore, "Quiver lets you sync all your notes across multiple computers via Dropbox, iCloud Drive, Google Drive, or any other file-based cloud services."

Most of all, I like that it is an OS X application. If I were to adopt it, I would no longer have to run Windows.

There is, however, one thing that keeps me from adopting it, and that is the somewhat cumbersome implementation of linking. You have to first copy the target note, move back into the note, into which you wish to insert the link to the target and the paste it into the note. It would be so much better, if you could just enclose the name of the target in double brackets, the way nValt, or OneNote, or ConnectedText allow you to do it.

The author seems to be aware of this, and implicitly promises to improve the linking behavior.

I will wait, but I am sure that the present version of Quiver (it's 3) will be good enough for many people, and not just for coders!


Andrew Peng said...

Quiver is pretty nice. The "page is a set of cells" idea is actually based on an idea from another tool called Jupyter.

However, it's not clear to me whether it has any advantages over wikis like Dokuwiki, which also offer syntax highlighting for programmers, LaTeX integration, etc., and which store everything as plain-text and attachments as actual source files, rather than a custom JSON format.

Also, some basic stuff like image resizing, better attachment handling, etc. is missing from Quiver. That's one advantage of having a team of lots of open source developers working on a common project.

But I do like the drag-and-drop of attachments in Quiver... Dokuwiki and other wikis should definitely offer that.

MK said...

Yes, I agree about the attachments. As you probably know, I use a desktop wiki that does all this as well: ConnectedText.

I'd wish it were available for the Mac.