Which organization tool is best for you? Evernote seems to be a wide favorite for our readers, but less conventional alternatives outside the mainstream exist. Take for example personal wiki-style notebook apps like the awesome personal wikis I wrote up recently. In that article, I praised TiddlyWiki for its speed and features, but there may be a contender on the horizon: CherryTree.
Thankfully, one of our readers, Pablo, recommended CherryTree. The personal wiki-style notebook market is something of a niche (for now, at least) and all of the available options have their weaknesses, but CherryTree has impressed me with its feature set, polish, and cross-platform availability. Do you need help keeping your notes and thoughts organized? Look no further. The answer is here.
My immediate impression upon opening CherryTree for the first time? Clean, compact, and efficient. One of my biggest gripes with the personal wiki-style notebook market is that apps tend to be feature-packed without much polish or intuitively designed but lacking in advanced features. CherryTree, on the other hand, is pleasant on the eyes and advanced enough to satisfy both newbies and veterans alike.
As far as performance goes, CherryTree is as good as it gets. With a sizeable notebook open it only consumes about 30MB of RAM and it runs quite fast even on older machines – my netbook from four years ago can handle it without a problem. On top of that, it’s available on both Windows and Linux, which is great if you want cross-platform versatility. Combine it with Dropbox or another cloud storage service to synchronize notes across multiple computers.
As a note organization tool, CherryTree brings all of the core features that you’d expect from a program of its kind.
- Content linking. Individual pages within CherryTree are called “nodes” and you can hyper link directly to other nodes, making it easy to create a cross-web of information similar to a real wiki. However, CherryTree can also link other types of data, including web addresses, images, files, and folders.
- Rich text formatting. CherryTree can handle rich text formatting, which means your pages will look as beautiful as you want them to. Rich text features include coloring, bold, italics, headers, superscripts and subscripts, bullet lists, and more.
- Syntax highlighting. On pages that have rich text formatting disabled, CherryTree will resort to standard syntax highlighting that you find in most text editors these days. This is a wonderful feature for when you have certain pages that are code-based, since you can have documentation pages in rich text while code pages as syntax highlighted. CherryTree supports over 50 language types out of the box.
- Full screen editing. When you want every bit of screen space dedicated to editing your notes, full screen mode will be there for you.
- Advanced search. Instead of being limited to searching only within the current page, CherryTree allows you three types of search: search within a page, search for a page, or search within all pages. Absolutely crucial for notebooks that grow to be immense over time.
- Import. Are you hesitant to switch to CherryTree because all of your notes are already inputted on a different personal notebook program? That’s alright because CherryTree can import projects from a range of other programs, including KeepNote, Gnote, Mempad, Tomboy, Treepad, Zim, and more.
- Export. If you’re worried about sharing your notes with others in more conventional formats, fear not. CherryTree can export your pages in the following formats: plain text file, multiple plain text files, HTML, PDF, and CherryTree Document.
- Password protection. Using 7-Zip’s algorithms, CherryTree can password protect your pages so only you can see them. Great for data sensitive projects and documents.
What I like the best about CherryTree, however, is the fact that it’s in constant development, even at the time of writing this article. Looking at the program’s update history, I see new versions being put out weekly, sometimes even faster. The developer is really on the ball with changes and I think that speaks well for the future health and quality of this program.
Ways to Use CherryTree
If you’ve gotten this far and you’re sold, great! Just head on over to the CherryTree website to download and install it ASAP. But if you’re here and you think it’s a great program but can’t think of any possible uses for you personally, then here are some ideas to get you started.
- Novel writing. CherryTree makes it really easy to set up various sections to keep track of notes for characters, geography, plotlines, and other important details. The inter-linking between pages makes it even easier for navigating your notes after they’ve inevitably grown into a massive pile.
- User manuals. CherryTree’s own manual is written in a way that it can be downloaded and read directly within CherryTree – and it’s awesome. With CherryTree, you can organize and write a user manual, then use the export tool to convert it into a more common format, such as PDF.
- Class notes. This is the big one whenever anyone mentions note-taking software. With CherryTree, you can set up individual sections for each of your courses, then break them down with individual pages per lesson. The inter-linking is a great way to reference related material and the export tool makes it easy to share notes with colleagues.
- To-do list. One of the ways I use CherryTree is to keep track of blog post ideas as they strike me in moments of inspiration. This allows me to ruminate and scratch down additional notes over time before I actually pop open WordPress and bang away at a full post. Each page, then, becomes a sort of to-do list of its own. Of course, this could be applied to activities other than blogging, such as errands, home improvement, working out, dieting, and more.
I love CherryTree and I love that it’s still being developed regularly. I have high hopes for it as an organizational tool and I’m excited to see where it ends up in the next year or so. For those of you still looking for the perfect note-keeping tool, I implore you to try it out. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Image Credits: Horia Varlan Via Flickr