NotePlan 2 a Noteworthy Linkable Planning App

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NotePlan

NotePlan brings Markdown and other hypertext functions to your calendar and planning notes.

What’s more, the latest NotePlan update, released last week, contains an AppleScript application programming interface (API) that enables users to automatically link its notes! As described below, when you invoke Hook in NotePlan, Hook uses this API. This means you can link your NotePlan notes to just about anything!

NotePlan enables you to manage your calendar, todos and notes in one place. NotePlan associates a note to every calendar day that you edit. These are known as “calendar notes”. It also supports “general notes”.

NotePlan’s editor supports Markdown and its own extensions. You don’t have to memorize the syntax or commands either; just type / to see the list of auto-completable instructions:

  • task,
  • bullet point,
  • header 1,
  • header 2,
  • header 3,
  • note link (which uses the familiar [[ ... ]] syntax),
  • event (which popups an Event/Reminder window with the Event tab selected),
  • reminder (which popups an Event/Reminder window with the Reminder tab selected), and
  • add image

Within these items, you can add tags (#...), which are indexed in the sidebar. You can also also introduce dates with > , such as >2020-06-05. NotePlan automatically treats dates as hyperlinks to the given date in the calendar. And dated items are themselves displayed in the date’s calendar entry. Very handy!

Want to edit a NotePlan note in a general purpose editor instead? NotePlan has you covered: you can open and edit any note in the plain text editor of your choice. Your changes are synced to NotePlan when you save the file, populating your NotePlan calendar.

NotePlan stores its data in iCloud, so your notes are synced across devices. Your privacy is guaranteed by Apple. Your notes are not seen by the NotePlan dev. And, as you would hope, there’s an iOS version of NotePlan.

Using Hook to connect NotePlan notes to other apps

There are many ways in which Hook can help you connect your NotePlan data to the rest of your digital life.

Some examples:

  • You can use Hook’s universal Copy Link function to copy a link to a NotePlan note, and then paste it anywhere you like. This is equivalent to using NotePlan’s “Copy Link to Note” menu item.
  • You can hook a NotePlan note to a project in your project management software. For instance, you can Hook a date to an OmniFocus or Things project, or a TaskPaper file. That will cause a bidirectional link to appear in Hook’s contextual window whenever you invoke Hook on the note or the project/file.
  • You can also use Hook to Copy Markdown Link to just about anything, and paste it in your NotePlan notes. NotePlan automatically makes Markdown links ‘hot’, meaning you can click on them to activate them.

Now let’s look at ways in which NotePlan is helpful for authors, given that Hook also serves writers very well.

NotePlan + Hook: Examples for writers

Apple provides a free Calendar app and a free Notes app. So why should authors consider NotePlan? Well, authors love to write, and might therefore feel constrained by Apple’s Calendar app. Apple’s Calendar app’s only provides per event notes. Cross-linking is essential to good research and writing, and Apple’s Note doesn’t adequately support links and automation. Moreover, Apple Notes is not adequately integrated with Apple’s Calendar app. NotePlan may therefore be quite appealing to authors, which does not mean they need to give up on Apple Notes altogether.

As an author, it might make sense to create one or more project notes in NotePlan. You can use Hook to link your book to this project note —whether it is written in Scrivener or another linkable app.

If you want to resume writing a particular section of a book in Scrivener on a particular date, you can use Hook to copy a Markdown link to that section, and paste it in a NotePlan general note. By adding a date to that entry of your general note, the entry will automatically appear on the given date in your Calendar. So when you consult that date in the future, you can simply click on the link to that section in Scrivener, and Hook will open that section. No need to search!

You can also use Hook to bidirectionally link (i.e., “hook”) any other temporal information resource to your NotePlan calendar. Often we receive time-relevant information by email. So, suppose you’ve received an email from your publisher that specifies things to do to prepare for your book launch. You can use Hook to Copy Link to that email, and use Hook to Copied Link to hook the email to your NotePlan project file. Or you can simply paste the link to the email in your NotePlan notes.

There are countless other ways for authors to use Hook, NotePlan and Scrivener together.

  • NotePlan project notes can include links to cognitive tasks. Suppose you’re developing mind-map in Curio’s freeform thinking app on a topic that is relevant to a chapter. You can copy a link to that mind map, and paste it in your NotePlan notes. Again, you can even ‘hook’ (bidirectionally link) the Curio document to your NotePlan document (or the relevant Scrivener section, for that matter).
  • Suppose you’re developing an outline for a chapter in OmniOutliner. With Hook, you can get a link to that outline, and paste a link to it in a NotePlan note. So the NotePlan note tells you not only what to do, and when to do it; but it is now is also an access channel (a link) to the specific file you need to update. (Even if you move the OmniOutliner file, the link remains valid.)
  • A NotePlan note can also include Hook links to PDFs that you need to read in order to better research a particular section or chapter. So, Hook provides a bridge between NotePlan, your PDF, and Scrivener.

Hook’s contextual window includes a browser with which they can navigate networks of information involving NotePlan. For instance, many authors store research information in personal information managers like DEVONthink and EagleFiler. With NotePlan’s new linking API, it’s very easy for authors to schedule NotePlan actions that are related to information stored in DEVONthink or EagleFiler, and to their Scrivener draft. These networks of linked data can be navigated with Hook.

Praise for NotePlan

Eduard Metzger, the Note Plan developer understands that users need to be able to connect their notes and plans to all kinds of information on their Mac and elsewhere. That’s why he added an API to NotePlan to support linking. Whereas NotePlan is one of the rare note-taking apps that is calendar-centric (and vice-versa), NotePlan is the main one in its category that provides an API for its linking functions, which is much better than letting one’s users rely on UI scripting. For example, this means that benefits are immediately available regardless of the Mac’s language setting — i.e., this transparently handles internationalization.

We’re sure that NotePlan and Hook customers alike will enjoy this integration.

Check out NotePlan

There’s much more to NotePlan than can be summarized in a blog post. For people who recognize the importance of quickly referencing and navigating information (i.e., Hook users 😉), NotePlan is worth learning about. Checkout [this webpage from the NotePlan blog, containing videos that walk you through NotePlan 2 on macOS.

Luc Beaudoin

Luc P. Beaudoin Co-founder, CogSci Apps Corp. My Cognitive Productivity books.