Taking notes has been a part of my life since high school, in one form or another, but the tools I’ve used have varied quite a bit. Recently, a couple of my current project teammates and I have been trying out Mou for rapid note-taking during meetings and capturing decisions we make along the way. There are a few things that have made it a really good fit.
I even used it to write this blog post:
My favorite note taking app has been Vim for a long time. I just whip open a new MacVim window and start typing away. Vim does nothing to constrain or inform the structure of my notes, and I’ve used a huge variety of undefined markup styles. The files end up littered with long dashed lines, indented text, asterisk bullets, and parenthesized phrases for tangential thoughts or statements. It’s not too difficult for me to understand, but sharing the notes usually takes some cleanup.
By having a target markup language, Markdown, I find I’m far more consistant with the structure of my notes. It’s easier to show multiple levels of headings, quotes, and emphasis, among many other things. And it takes less cleanup to get my notes in a sharable, printable form.
Structure is good, but I could write Markdown in Vim. Mou, on the other hand, provides a split pane with the rendered HTML using a really good, simple default style. That immediate feedback makes it easy to consider the form and structure of my notes as I write, further reducing the need for later refacatoring.
Sometimes we put notes back on our project Wiki or post them back on Basecamp. By writing Markdown instead of my own inconsistant markup this becomes much simpler.
It’s Quick and Simple
I haven’t tried Evernote yet. My preference is usually for simple tools that let me throw files into git with our other project assets, and Mou fits that model perfectly. All three of us on the team have put our notes into our git doc repository for this project, and I’ve really appreciated the improved readability of a well-structured document rendered in HTML.