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Grug Notes

A simple self-organizing tool for text.

Used by 1 canoe builder and 18 other grugs.

Plain text
    easy, fast, minimal formatting
Grug AI helps 
    organize people, companies, and dates
    extract attributes & structured data
    find information with semantic search
Wiki functionality
    includes markdown styling
    [[links]], #tags, attributes
    organize longterm knowledge
    from AI, tags, and auto tags
    automatically group notes
Voice notes
    push to talk
    talk to edit
    speech to search
Simple. Our goal is to be the most straightforward note-taking application in the world. We aim to reduce friction at every level with a no-frills web interface and use modern artificial intelligence to pull structured data out of each note. Fast. Manufacturing has shaped our design ideas in every way. We are a product of the Hawai'i-based canoe-building company Kamanu Composites. We prioritize cold starts because we don't work in software all day. Functional. We take design inspiration from websites like Hacker News, Craigslist, and McMaster Carr. We want fewer clicks, less friction, minimal tags, and no fluff.ย  No BS. We don't even like note-taking. We do it because we have to. We keep track of customers and relationships, log machine maintenance, improve quality control, and maintain an operating manual. We take notes to solve problems. Call it a second brain if you want. For us, it's a database where we can bring order to unstructured information. Sensible AI. Designed for those of us with messy desks and overflowing file cabinets. Grug Notes identifies people, companies, and natural language dates, automatically linking them. Grug AI pulls attributes and powers search, allowing you to ask questions about your notes. We give everyone the skills of an organized perfectionist. Humans judge what to take notes on; AI is here to help. Be the lazy human you are and forget about organizing.


Is this a joke?

Not at all. Yes, a meme led to the name Grug Notes, but also, in an increasingly complex and confusing world, cave-man simplicity is what we're all about. It perfectly encapsulates our goals.

An app from a canoe company?

Canoes, apps. Bottom line, we like to build products. Grug Notes is a solo developer project of Keizo Gates, operating within Kamanu Composites as a process improvement and diversification effort. Grug Notes has roots in a DIY ERP software that started in 2008 to manage canoe orders. In 2020, Kamanu Composites made 900,000 face shields primarily within three months. It was an incredible learning experience on scale, efficiency, and the value of note-taking. In 2022, frustration with existing note-taking and wiki/document apps led us to start Grug Notes. Many apps may work for the tech industry or knowledge workers on a computer, but with much of our work on the shop floor, we found most of them slow and cumbersome. Like all good hackers, we DIY everything to a fault. Here, we prioritize access speed on cold start and ensure it functions as a website should. We aim to create a note-taking app that meets our personal needs and those of our manufacturing business.


One plan, $15/monthly and $7/month paid annually. Yes, no one pays monthly. :)

Do you expect me to pay for an app in development?

Yes. There are costs for AI features, and we are serious about building a profitable product with Grug Notes. Canoes are fun, but manufacturing in Hawai'i and competing against overseas competition leaves razor-thin margins. Grug Notes has to be self-sustaining.

Is this PKM or TFT software?

When we started this, we had no idea what PKM (personal knowledge management) or a TFT (tool for thought) was. We fit those categories but aim to be general-purpose productivity software. Our focus is on improving organization and record-keeping, generalized from the needs of a canoe manufacturing company. We hope others find it useful for both personal and small business use.

What are the core features?

We have #hashtags and [[bracket tags]] to create links internally. We have backlinks. We have tag synonyms. We call each tag a "prompt" since each text box has one placed at the top. Each prompt has a URL of We are not a "block-level" app, as many outliners call it (where each line has an address), but instead, we think of each text box as an individual plain text file. Typically, there is one block per day for each prompt. There is a default "Daily Notes" prompt; almost everything can go there. Break out a section into a separate prompt when you feel the need. Any prompt/tag can be a datatype, and you can then assign any prompts/tags a datatype. Some default datatypes are auto-extracted with AI: natural language dates, people, and companies. For example, AI will identify names in your notes. If we type John John Florence, he will be tagged and also assigned the datatype ' person.' Default attributes to the person prompt, like phone number, email, etc, are also extracted. We have implemented some outliner-like functionalityโ€”tab in with tab or down with return. Indentation is four spaces. Backlinks (mentions) use indentation to decide what to show from the original note. Colors change on indentation to identify outline levels (eventually, this will be customizable). In our opinion, bullets are unnecessary clutter -- although markdown is an option if you like your bullets. Some markdown syntax is supported, like links, bold, and italics. Although, in general, we don't want anyone to memorize syntax. Ctrl-return cycles through a customizable list of characters at the start of any given line. We like to use ๐Ÿ‘‰ and โœ… for to-do lists.

Tell me more about the software development side.

Frontend web frameworks developed in the past decade have made web apps bloated and slow. User interfaces have gotten worse. We've seen it firsthand with many SAAS apps used in small businesses over the last 15 years. From Freshbooks to Shopify, the frustration is real. Even Apple notes would hang and show blank screens often. There is a place for the complexity, but a lightweight progressive web app seemed fitting for a note app. Fast and simple. Why load 20 MB of JavaScript when you can load all your notes instead? The tech stack is Python, Django, and a MySQL database, with HTMX (big fans, and of his programming wisdom Grug Brain Dev -- no relation) and some JavaScript on the front end. We host on Google Cloud, and yes, we use Open AI. It's a mix of old tech and a sprinkle of new, just the way we like it.

Who should not use this?

If you're adamant about local first or end-to-end encryption, stick with Apple Notes, Obsidian, or Reflect Notes. For us, those features add friction. And we're building canoes over here, not storing nuclear codes. Also, if media besides text, like images, PDFs, etc., are necessities for your note-taking needs, we're not sure when we'll support them. Unless someone wants to invest (promise we'll only use half on canoe stuff), they will take time. Lastly, if you love to organize and develop your perfect system, Grug Notes exists to remove that step as much as possible and let things evolve naturally. Proceed with caution. :)

Mobile Support?

We don't have a native app or anything in the app store, but we recommend Adding it to Home for an app-like experience, also known as a progressive web app.

API, plugins?

We anticipate some API to move data in and out, but many priorities are above this. We have no current plans for plugins. Our preference is for reasonable defaults over endless customization.


Grug Notes started in October 2022, and while we are shooting for the moon, this is still an after-Good Night Moon project. It's raw. It's unpolished. We are building in public, and we deploy improvements frequently. The beauty of software is that improvements compound. We are confident we'll have a highly polished piece of software in time! Please send feedback directly to or DM @grugnotes on Twitter.

Why should I invest my time in an app that may be around for only a short time?

We have no funding or investors, but Kamanu Composites has been around for 16 years, and we anticipate Grug Notes being forever sustainable at about 100 users. Main Grug Keizo has had websites online continuously for over 20 years and has an irrational tendency never to quit. If you're concerned about data lock-in, don't worry; we will be adding imports & exports. We've just been busy getting core features in place. Email with what you need!

What's the long-term vision?

We see Grug Notes as a tool to manage information. At Kamanu Composites, we are constantly looking for ways to simplify (as manufacturing forces you to do), and complicated software is part of that. We want less of it, and what we do use, we want to be more straightforward. We see Grug Notes and the coming changes with AI as ways to achieve that. We hope to solve real problems for personal use and small businesses.

Referral Program?

We plan to implement a referral program in the future. on Twitter — A project of Kamanu Composites, LLC
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