ERA Note-Taking: How it started

Posted on 08/30/2021

For years, I was searching for a good note-taking solution that I can use in my professional career as a software engineer.

I tried many products and methods:

  • Storing notes in a simple text file on my computer
  • Storing notes in a physical notebook
  • Storing notes in Word or Google Docs
  • Adapting various commercial and free software products (Evernote, Notion, - OneNote etc.)

I wasn’t thrilled with any of these approaches: storing my notes in simple text files was too primitive, using Word or Google Docs was“too much”, as these tools have too many options and were really built for my purpose.

On the other hand, using products such as Evernote or Notion wouldn't make me happy either because they are “overengineered”: too many features, bloated user interfaces that do too much, targeted towards a broad range of users not towards people like us, software engineers.

I came to the conclusion that none of them would really match my needs. That's how everything started.

In the end, I wanted to have a software that would ideally have these characteristics:

  • Simple to use: A note-taking software shouldn’t be complicated. I want to open it, write something down and take a look at it later. I want to avoid spending hours learning a specific solution.
  • Not bloated: It is no secret that software these days is bloated, especially if it is commercial. I don’t need a million features that makes the application feels a bit “sluggish” because the product has to satisfy a wide user range.
  • A desktop app: Call me old school, but I feel that the ideal note-taking program should be a desktop app. You can open it anytime to write something down or look something up, instead of opening your browser, navigation to a web app, logging in and then using it.
  • Simple and clean user interface: It should look modern and like it's from 2021, but it shouldn't be too distracting by having too many animations and effects everywhere.
  • Focus on privacy: I want my notes to be stored on my computer, so I have full control over them.
  • Markdown: I feel that markdown is the best markup language, for writing notes and especially documenting code fragments.

So in the end, I created a software that would match these characteristics.

After gaining feedback from other fellow software engineers, I continued to work on it and named it “ERA”.

Since one year working on ERA alone, Alex joined in August 2021. Together, we will continue to develop and improve ERA.

In the next few weeks, we will be publishing another article: our vision.