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.
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, and we strive for relentless simplicity.
Functionality over everything.
Fewer clicks, less friction, fewer tags, less fluff. We take design inspiration from websites like Hacker News, Craigslist, and McMaster Carr.
We strive to be the anti-notetaking note app.
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 note take to solve problems. Call it a 2nd brain if you want. For us, it's just a database where we can bring order 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 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. Grug AI pulls 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.
An app from a canoe company?
Canoes, apps. Bottom line, we like to build products. Grug Notes is a project of Keizo Gates and a process improvement and diversification effort for Kamanu Composites.
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 slow and cumbersome. Like all good hackers, we are rolling our own where we can prioritize access speed on cold start and functioning as a website should.
One plan, $15/monthly. Annual payment is discounted to $7/mo until we are more polished! We hope to grandfather in early adopters with that pricing indefinitely.
More advanced professional and team plans (with GPT-4) in the future!
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. We need Grug Notes 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 grugnotes.com/username/prompt-name/.
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, 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 👉 and ✅ for to-do lists.
Tell me more about the software development side.
The tech stack is Python, Django, and a MySQL database, with HTMX
(big fans, and of his programming wisdom Grug Brain Dev
Who should not use this?
If you're adamant about local first or end-to-end encryption, stick with Apple Notes, Obsidian, LogSeq, 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. :)
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.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
We plan to implement a referral program in the future.