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A simple note-taking CLI application

Project description


A full-featured note-taking application in terminal.


  • Easy note management: add, update, list, remove note;
  • Organize notes in hierarchical notebooks;
  • Full featured formating support: you can add rich texts (markdown), mathematical formula (mathjax, LaTeX), diagrams, charts (mermaid), images, and attachments. All will be rendered and displayed lively in your browser;
  • Powerful and fast full-text search. Get all information at your fingers;
  • Safe and secure: all notes are saved in plain texts (markdown). You own your data. You can view and update your notes without any specific applications but a text editor when necessary. All notes store in private git repository;
  • Live in console: git style APIs. No need to learn a new GUI app. Get your notes anytime, anywhere: Linux, macOS, Windows (through WSL), Android (by Termux), SSH, ...


pip install donno


On Debian-based systems, install them with:

apt install git pandoc
npm install -g @mermaid-js/mermaid-cli mermaid-filter


don add        # create a new note
don list       # list notes in all notebooks
don list-notebooks    # list existing notebooks in alphabet order
don search nim thunder    # search notes contains "nim" and "thunder"
don edit 3     # edit note #3 in note list or searching results
don delete 3   # delete note #3 in note list or searching results

don backup     # backup notes to remote repository
don restore    # restore notes from remote repository
don backup-patch  # backup notes out of git revision to tarball, default to /tmp
don restore-patch # restore notes from patch file

don preview 3  # preview note #3 in console editor
don pv 3       # preview note #3 in browser
don ads -b Tech -n nim -t config -c compile  # advanced search, see below for explanations
don s '(python.*program|learning.*algorithm)'  # search notes with regex, see below for explanations
don pub        # publish notes to blog


  • Most long commands have aliases (abbreviation) for convenience. For example, a for add, l for list, s for search, ads for advanced-search, etc. Get alias of a command with -h option.
  • The command options have 2 forms: full and abbreviation. For example, in command ads, -b is the abbr. of --book, -t: --tag, -n: --name, etc.

Add attachments in a note

You can add attachments in your notes. They could be image files, which are added by ![<image-file-name>](), or other files, which are added by [<attachment-file-name>]() (without exclamation mark ahead, like common markdown links).

The attachment file specified in the link must exist in the folder you add the note (the folder you run don a), or "attachment file not exists" error will be raised.

Under the hood

When you save a note and quit the editor, donno will scan all [<filename>]() pattern in the note. If the <filename>s exist in the current folder, donno do the following things:

  1. Generate a <internal-name> for each attachment;
  2. Copy each file to <notes-repo>/resources folder (get the path of <notes-repo> with don conf get repo) with their <internal-name>s;
  3. Update the link in the note from [<filename>]() to [<filename>](<internal-name>)

The <internal-name> is composed of 5 parts:

  1. Prefix resources/, for all attachments are saved in this folder in <notes-repo>
  2. <note-name>
  3. att
  4. Order number
  5. File extension of original file

For example, if you add the following attachments in the note with filename


They will be updated to:


If the attachment file doesn't exist in the current folder, donno will give a warning:

File myimage.png does not exist in the current folder.
You can run `don e ...` at the folder where myimage.png exists.


File path: ~/.config/donno/config.json

Configuration Items


  • app_home: root folder of donno data files. Default: ~/.donno
  • repo: folder to save all note files and resource files. Default: $app_home/repo
  • editor: which application to use to create/update note. Default: nvim
  • viewer: which application to use to view notes in console. Default: nvim -R
  • default_notebook: default notebook name for a new note. Default: /Diary
  • logging level: debug or info(default)
  • editor_envs: environment variables of the editor. For example, env XDG_CONFIG_HOME is used by neovim to load config/plugins to parse markdown files. Default: ~/.config


  • url: blog url
  • publish_cmd: command to publish notes to blog

Manage Configurations

don conf get                # list all current configurations
don conf get edtior         # get which editor to use
don conf set editor nvim    # set the editor, make sure you've installed it
don conf set default_notebook /Diary/2020

# set nested attribute:
don conf set editor_envs.XDG_CONFIG_HOME $HOME/.config/vimrcs/text

# restore default values of configurations:
don conf restore

Update and uninstall

pip install --upgrade donno
pip uninstall donno

Import & Export between Other Note-taking Apps

Supported import formats:

  • Joplin

Supported export formats:

  • JSON
  • markdown


Import notes from Joplin:

jop export --format json jopdb
don imports jopdb --source-type joplin

Export notes as JSON files and save into folder donno_export:

don exports --type json

List parameters with don export -h and don import -h.

Advanced search

To be updated!

To search notes with more details, use advanced-search command. For example, to search notes in notebook Tech, and "nim" in title, "config" in tags, "compile" in contents:

don ads -b Tech -n nim -t config -c compile

which is abbreviation form of:

don advanced-search --book Tech --name nim --tag config --content compile

You can also use regex in search term. For example, to search notes contains "python...program" or "learning...algorithm":

don s '(python.*program|learning.*algorithm)'

Synchronization between Multiple Devices

Main method: VCS

To sync notes between multiple devices, you need a remote VCS (version control system) repository. The simplest way is creating it on a source-code-hosting platform, such as,,, etc.

Then push your local note folder (get its path with don conf get repo, if you didn't set it explicitly) to remote repository.

On a new device, clone the remote repository to the local note folder.

When you update notes on device A, and want to sync the changes to device B, run git pull in the local note folder of device B.

With the powerful merge function of git, you can create and/or update notes on multiple devices simultaneously, then sync them with rebase or other methods.

Complement method: patch file

When the changes of notes are too small to form a meaningful commit, you can patch them to a file, then restore it on another device.

Publish to Blog

If you want to publish notes in a specified notebook to blog, see blog doc for details.

Some notes

Install in virtual environment

For those who don't want install apps in global environment, install it in a virtual environment:

mkdir ~/apps/donno
cd ~/apps/donno
python -m venv env
. env/bin/activate
pip install donno

cat << EOF >> ~/.zshrc
function dn() {
  source $HOME/apps/donno/env/bin/activate
  don $@

Now the command is dn instead of don.


In developing

On schedule

  1. Basic publishing module: publish to blog, such as

  2. Advanced publishing function: publish specific note, or notes in specific notebook

  3. Search notes with the whole words;

  4. Better appearance: beautify output table with libraries like colored, tabulate, etc

  5. Search notes with keywords (which is extracted with AI algorithms, such as NLP, TF-IDF, etc);

  6. Similar notes recommendations of a specific note with recommendation algorithms;

  7. Note syntax check with NLP;

  8. Knowledge graph construction and visualization (in TUI) from a specific root (note);

  9. Note translation, English to Chinese and vice versa.

  10. Suggest when typing. For example: press TAB after input don s py, some candidates displayed below: python, pyhive, pynvim, ...


  1. Synchronize notes with patch file as the complement to the main sync mechanism based on git;

  2. Basic note-taking functions: add, delete, list, search, view, update notes

  3. Configuration module: see Configuration;

  4. Preview: render markdown notes to HTML and previewed in browser

  5. Support adding attachments into notes, especially images

  6. Add logging system, distinguish application (for end user) and debugging (for developer) logs

  7. Notebook management: list notebooks, list notes in specified notebook

  8. Synchronize notes between hosts (based on VCS, such as git)

  9. Import/Export from/to other open source note-taking apps, such as Joplin

  10. Advanced search function: search by title, tag, notebook and content

  11. Search with regular expression

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