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Return to the Knowledge Base

Dnote will return to its original mission of providing a personal knowledge base for learners such as you and me. Features that are not directly related to that core mission will be dropped from the product.

As a result of experimental features added this year, Dnote currently tries to do many things other than helping you learn. For instance, earlier this year, Dnote implemented an end-to-end encrypted backup in the spirit of respecting the privacy of users. While the feature was well-intended, it did not enhance your user experience and effectiveness of Dnote as a solution to your learning obstacles.

The trade-off necessitated by the encryption feature diminished what Dnote can do for you. The main sacrifice was the full-text search on the web client. Without full-text search readily available on the web application, it became harder for us to retrieve our knowledge on-the-go. Also, the encryption feature introduced friction in your weekly digest emails, because notes could no longer be embedded inside the email body in a plaintext. All in all, the encryption feature made Dnote deviate from its vision of providing a simple knowledge base with an effortless, automated spaced repetition.

Dnote tried to become not only a cryptosystem but also a fully-fledged note-taking application. Again, note-taking software is something that Dnote is not, and such deviation has offered little to none value to you at the end of the day. Personal knowledge base software is not necessarily a note-taking software, even though the two concepts are related. A personal knowledge base software must focus on how to store knowledge and make it become a part of the user, rather than how to solve generic note-taking.

With these observations in mind, I will realign the project direction of Dnote with the original vision of providing a personal knowledge base with minimal effort.

Change and Timeline

The new version of Dnote will be deployed from Monday, September 30, 2019. Here are the changes you can expect to see:

Removal of end-to-end encrypted backup.

The encryption feature will be removed. There will be an automated migration step in the Dnote web application. Concretely, the automated migration step will allow you to decrypt your notes in the client-side and upload them to Dnote. Existing users will be contacted with a link to the automated migration steps.

With the removal of the encryption feature, Dnote will support:

  • Full-text search on the web
  • Embedded notes in the email
  • Password recovery

The effort to build an end-to-end encrypted notebook will continue as a separate open-source project, NAD, an acronym for “NAD Ain’t Dnote”. It is a fork of Dnote which will be simplified further and will be available from GitHub.

A big pull request that open sourced Dnote, showing 50,000 lines added
The encrypted Dnote will be forked as a separate open-source project.

Simplified editor

The editor will be simplified to focus on empowering you to instantly capture new information. All features that strive for a general note-taking software will be removed. For instance, there will be no more side-by-side preview, or a scrollable sidebar containing note previews.

A big pull request that open sourced Dnote, showing 50,000 lines added
An early look at the new editor


Dnote is going to back to its root of providing you with a personal knowledge base to help you learn more. The upcoming release will be a stepping stone to that vision and a much-needed realignment that will set the project’s course in the right direction. I would like to sincerely thank every user that kindly took time to talk to me about their concerns and feedback with Dnote. You can expect to see Dnote evolve toward the direction that is important to you, me, and many other learners around us.

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Sung Cho

I am a developer interested in learning new things in an efficient way.

Sydney, Australia https://sungwoncho.com

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