i am replacing evernote with vim + markdown

Back at the beginning of March, I was discussing Vim with a couple of friends and realized I’d stopped pushing myself with it. I read around and apparently this is a known thing — people dabble in Vim, but get to a certain level and just sort of stop learning but still internally consider themselves wizards, despite being far from it. So I decided to jump back in.

Honestly, there wasn’t much thought or planning behind it. I’d tried switching away from Evernote to other apps that never seemed to cut it. There was always something lacking, or maybe they were even too similar (Bear is amazing, BTW). I actually can’t quite put my finger on quite what was wrong, but even writing in Sublime felt off.

So I combined my need to become better at Vim with my need to replace Evernote 1, and it’s been working quite well.

Evernote, of course, is just awesome. I’m sure you could use it for a lot more but I personally use it for notebook functionality, tagging, search, backups, image support and most importantly, my very verbose notes. As it turns out, it’s not easy to replace all that functionality with just another app and running some kind of huge import/migration is a real pain in the ass — one that I’ll have to take care of at some point for Markdown. While I haven’t nailed down the exact steps to perform the migration, the rest has really fallen into place with my current flow:

– Notebooks = Folders (nested as much as you please).
– Tagging = File system tags (macOS supports this natively).
– Search = ag2/grep (all from within Vim, mind you).
– Backups = I keep everything under ~/Documents/Writing/ (macOS backs this up automagically, but you could do the same with Dropbox).
– Image support = Markdown supports images just fine and dandy.
– Notes = Markdown files, of course.

Time will tell if it continues, but so far, this has worked extremely well for 95% of my use cases3. Fringe benefits such as being visually pleasing while minimally distracting are also of note!

Moving forward, I might be inclined to move beyond just using Vim as my primary note taking app and even try to use Vim as my primary IDE, but I still have my doubts about replacing PHPStorm. There is so much I love about it that I’d need a good reason to do away with it besides it just being a memory hog.

1At one point, Evernote changed its privacy policy to allow employees to read users’ notes and such. Basically a complete privacy violation, and then they went back on it. But who knows what other crap they’re trying to sneak past us?

2I could probably write another post about how awesome Ag (“The Silver Searcher”) is, but I’ll just leave you with this: on a huge project folder with lots of huge files and subfolders, a recursive grep for the word “backup” took about 16.5 seconds. The same search in Ag? 0.21 seconds (recursive/case-insensitive). I don’t know what kind of black magic it uses, but I’m on board.

3I don’t foresee it being a huge problem, but my last unsolved mystery is really the final export from Evernote to Markdown (while maintaining folder/tag structure);
could be a pain but we shall see.