Even though I put The Plain Text Project out to pasture in December, 2022, I still use plain text for most everything that I do. And I'm always stumbling across some new text-only tool or another.
One that I encountered at the end of 2022 is Noodle. It's billed as a collection of text-based thinking tools. I look at it more as an easy-to-use plain text workspace.
Curious? Let's take a look at it.
Let's stick with the hosted version at noodle.page. When you land at that site, you're asked how you want to store the files that you create in Noodle, as shown below:
You only have two options: Dropbox and your web browser's local storage. I'm not a big fan of Dropbox for a few reasons. Local storage is only good if you don't clear your browser's cache, whether after you shut down the browser (as I do) or ever. I would prefer that Noodle use something more open than Dropbox — I'm not sure what's out there, beyond Nextcloud or GitLab, or how easy it is to integrate with them.
Once your choose how to store the files, you're presented with a blank canvas along with a welcome file, as shown below:
Working with Noodle
To get started, click Create new in the top-left corner. You're presented with several options, as shown below:
You can create:
- A plain text document,
- A document formatted with Markdown (which also has an automatic preview),
- A visual planning/brainstorming/kanban board,
- A text-based calculator, and
- A to-do list.
When you select a document type, you get a file with some basic structure (or an empty file if you chose Plain Text). Here's an example of a to-do list:
Noodle automatically gives the file a nonsense name — like untitled jlhii, as shown in the image above. You can change that name by double clicking it and typing a new one. Noodle also adds the +draft tag at the end of the file name. More about that in a moment.
From there, start typing. Here's the outline, created as a plain text file, for this post:
Organizing Your Files
You do that using tags (or, as they're referred to in Noodle, contexts). You add tags after the title of your document. Each tag has + prepended to it. For example, if I'm taking notes for, or writing a draft of, a blog post, I'd add the tag +blogging after the title. Here's an example:
As you add tags, they get grouped in Noodle's sidebar, as shown below:
You can your files by they date on which they were created, by tag, or by project (which uses tag +project).
Saving Your Files
No matter which type of storage you use, Noodle automatically saves your work every few seconds.
You can also download individual files or an archive of all of your work. You might want to do that every so often, just in case you accidentally clear your browser's cache or if something goes wrong with Noodle's connection to Dropbox.
Noodle is an interesting useful tool, especially if work in plain text and your needs are simple. It's good for taking notes, writing drafts, managing your tasks, and the like.
Noodle doesn't do a a lot, but I get the feeling that's more a feature than a weakness of the application. That said, Noodle definitely won't impress the hardcore personal knowledge management crowd. I doubt they're the audience for Noodle, anyway.
That said, while I find it interesting, Noodle isn't for me. Don't let that stop you from taking a look at it, though. Noodle might be a good fit for your needs.