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Grug Notes

A simple self-organizing tool for text.

Used by 1 canoe builder and 25 other grugs.

Plain text
    easy, fast, minimal formatting
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
We're in rapid development, building in public as best we can. It's early, but we already find Grug Notes useful, so feel free to sign up. There will be some bugs, but improvements are ongoing! Follow and send questions or feedback to @grugnotes on Twitter or email 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 interface and use modern artificial intelligence to pull structured data out of each note. We are not like others. We are a product from Hawai'i-based canoe-building company Kamanu Composites. Manufacturing has shaped our design ideas in every way. Grug Notes has roots in a DIY ERP software that started in 2008 to manage canoe orders. In 2020, we made 900,000 face shields, quickly learning some lessons on scale, efficiency, and the value of note-taking in that process. In 2022, frustration with existing note-taking and wiki/document apps led us to start Grug Notes. Functionality over everything. Fewer clicks, less friction, fewer tags, less fluff. We focus on a simple web interface and plain text to be fast. Many apps claim to be instant and may work for the tech industry or knowledge workers. But much of our work is on the shop floor—and modern web apps are frequently complex (on the front end). Every app we tried took too long to load, especially when they were not always open. We take design inspiration from websites like Hacker News, Craigslist, and McMaster Carr. We strive to be the anti-notetaking note app. The reality is that we don't even like note-taking. We don't take notes for fun. We do it because we have to. We must keep track of customers and relationships, log machine maintenance, improve quality control, or maintain an operating manual. We do it to solve problems. Call it a 2nd brain if you want. For us, it's just a database where we can bring structure to unstructured information. The magic of AI is real. Our ideas come from an unorganized brain: messy, forgetful, and an established procrastinator. But as builders and pretty good tool users, we realize AI can give anyone the talents of a highly organized, slightly compulsive perfectionist. Humans can judge what to take notes on, and AI is here to help improve retrieval. Grug Notes identifies people, companies, and natural language dates, automatically linking them. AI can pull attributes automatically and powers search, where you can ask questions about your notes. AI is a tool and a partnership, not here to replace us.


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.


One plan, $15/month. Annual payment is discounted to $7/mo until we are more polished! Professional and team plans (with GPT-4) someday in the future!

You expect me to pay for an app in development?

Yes. There are costs with the AI features.

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; mostly, 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 -- say we type John John Florence. He will be tagged and also assigned the datatype ' person.' You can add attributes to the person prompt like phone number, email, etc. We have implemented some outliner-like functionality—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 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 👉 and ✅ for to-do lists.

Tell me more about the software development side.

Javascript stacks 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, at least in our experience. There is a place for the complexity, but a lightweight progressive web app seemed right for a notes 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 an SQL database, with HTMX (big fans, and of his programming wisdom Grug Brain Dev -- no relation) on the front end. We host on google cloud, and yes, we use Open AI.

Who should not use this?

If you're adamant about local first or end-to-end encryption, stick with Apple Notes, LogSeq, or Reflect Notes. For us, those features add friction. And we're building canoes over here, not storing nuclear codes. Also, if you need other media besides text, like images, pdfs, etc. Those features are low on our priority list, and unless someone wants to invest (promise we'll only use half on canoe stuff), they will take time. And 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.

Mobile Support?

Add to home works, and we'll keep trying to improve there.

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.


We can't stress how early this is. We started in October 2022, and while we are shooting for the moon, Grug Notes is still an after-Good Night Moon project. We know it's unpolished. We are building in public, and we deploy usable improvements immediately. The beauty of software is that improvements compound. We are confident we'll have a highly polished piece of software in time! Please send us feedback directly by dm @grugnotes on Twitter or email

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 export, that is on our to-do list, but in the meantime, select-all copy works since nearly all data in Grug Notes is plain text.

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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