Alright folks, help a coder out. The last time I tried to write an engineering notebook app for myself, I got bogged down in the interface, then sent myself down a rabbit hole where I was planning to store all of my notes in sealed PDFs, which I then had to read back so that I could search. Clearly, this is not the way.

After that, I tried to just beat TiddlyWiki into unsealed project note shape. It works, but it's buggy.

It occurs to me that I could quickly bang out something with an interface similar to my note-taker in TiddlyWiki, in .NET, use a little local DB to store the notes, then once that behaves, work on figuring out how to encrypt the contents of each set of notes...that seems doable. I can add more useful bits later.

Friends, allow me to share my progress from you. Please yell at me if I try to add too many things at once.

I only need the timestamping and signing on the off-chance that I might have to go to court. I should have a proper engineering notebook in case of a patent dispute. Also, I'm a PE, so there's a slight chance that I could get sued.

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@Lwasserman The abvious answer at first glance would seem to be jupyter notebook, but I presume there is a reason that wont work?

@freemo It really complex for what I want. I don't need a web service, and am not really looking to share my notes. I'll add the ability to export stuff as a PDF, I think. What I really need is a lightweight way to store project notes by date and project, where I can't change the notes once they've been written. Ultimately, I'd like to have them timestamped by a trusted authority and sealed with a cert. Also, it'd be nice if my program could interpret some standard HTML and SVG markup.

I'm not a scientist; I don't run experiments or need to write papers. I'm an engineer, whose razer-sharp memory is starting to go to crap. I'm hoping I can write something small enough to be moderately portable, that won't drive me crazy. I'm so bad at keeping notes.

@freemo Not sure that qualifies as less complicated...

@Lwasserman Its just a text editor. The only tricky part is configuringit if you want something custom.

I use spacemacs on top of emacs personally and it makes the expiernce pretty effortless IMO

@Lwasserman If you really want to, go for it. Seems like a lot of work for something that doesnt sound like it would do anything too special.

@Lwasserman @freemo It is true that emacs has a learning curve. However, I’ll say that if you set up spacemacs, you will have most of the functionality you are looking for:

Export to pdf (and other formats), a literate programming environment with org mode / Babel which supports many popular programming languages, and org-roam ( for note taking including daily notes that you can cross reference with agendas and todos and all the other org features.

The simplest literate programming environment I’ve used is Jupyter notebooks. The web server part is simply a way to serve a document user interface, and it is very simple to run locally. There are a number of languages supported. Probably the next easiest is matlab, but that is more specialized.


As a spacemacs user myself I can second that. It is terribly easy to learn too as spacemacs walks you through the commands as you construct them.


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