Trunk Notes: a Markdown-based wiki, to go

Brett Terpstra
B. Terpstra|11.29.10

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Trunk Notes: a Markdown-based wiki, to go

I know, I went and used "wiki" and "Markdown" in the headline and scared off all of the non-nerds. Nerds, welcome. If you're a non-nerd who kept reading, well, keep reading. Markdown is an easy way to create HTML, and wikis are a powerful means of connecting and organizing your notes. Your mobile note-taking deserves a peek at this.

Trunk Notes is a note-taking app with a built-in wiki (similar to VoodooPad). It works for both iPad and iPhone and provides great tools for editing (and rendering) Markdown. It also syncs with Dropbox and sends emails in Markdown or rich text (HTML). The wiki feature allows you to create automatic links between pages using WikiWord syntax. It's an extremely fast way to create linked notes with rich formatting.

If you don't know Markdown, take my word for it: it's easy. There is some great documentation included in the app, and you'll catch on quickly. Read on for a dive into Trunk Notes.

Inside the app

The default view in Trunk Notes is rendered HTML (a web page), with clickable links and fast navigation. Tapping "Edit" on any page shows you the Markdown behind it and lets you edit the page. It provides special keyboard keys for easy Markdown editing. On your Mac (or PC), you can open and edit any of your notes from the Trunk Notes folder in your Dropbox, with two-way sync.

You can insert audio notes and photos, too, which show up as clickable links. The original audio and image files sync back and forth to your Mac, so any recordings or snapshots are easily accessible.

Wi-Fi sharing

One of the coolest features of Trunk Notes is its Wi-Fi sharing. You can turn on sharing on your iPhone or iPad, then go to the address it gives you from a computer on the same network. In your browser, you'll get a web version of your wiki that you can click through, search and edit. Your changes are made instantly on your iOS device. It makes for both speedy editing and easy access to your notes.


Trunk Notes also provides tagging support, and tags can be used in a variety of ways. Notably, you can edit a page called Special:Badge, have it collect notes with a certain tag by using the syntax {tagged ToDo} (where ToDo is the name of the tag), and then the number of collected notes shows up as the icons badge on your home screen. That's pretty neat. Tags can also be assigned in the web editor during Wi-Fi sharing.

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Other features include geo-tagging of notes, easy backup and restore, importing any text file, quick access to recently-edited documents, the ability to customize the output style using CSS and a handful of wiki engine functions (recent, tagged, check, action, numnotes, popular, etc.). There's also TextExpander support, as well as built-in "snippet" functionality that allows you to define blocks of text and insert them with simple shortcuts. If I create a note with some text I use often and call it "Snippet:tuaw," I can then type "tuawxx" and insert that block in another note. Nifty!

Take a peek for yourself and see if you find it worthy of US$3.99 (app store link). I know I did. You can even read the full manual before you purchase, if you like. Happy note-taking!

Nerd alert: If you're so inclined, you can even set up the Plain Text Wiki bundle for TextMate (which we've actually mentioned on TUAW before) to edit and render your notes directly from your Dropbox folder, even when the app isn't running. Here's a hint: edit the wiki.rb file in the support folder to change the extension to "" instead of "txt," and change the default home page to "HomePage." It's pretty flawless after that. The original bundle is a little bit broken, so be sure to grab an updated version of the bundle, or get the latest from the git repository (use GetBundles).

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