9 votes

Web-based rich text editor

Hi,

I’m usually just overthinking my note-taking setup with plaintext markdown notes, but recently I had to create and share (as PDF) some rich text documents as well. What I’m looking for:

  • Collaborative editing to some extent (ideally real-time like Google Docs..)

  • Rich text formatting

  • Export as PDF (or even Word if possible)

  • Web & mobile app (iOS)

I’m aware of Microsoft 365 with Word online and Google Docs. I really can’t stand Word online, it feels so super slow one can barely use it. I also feel the same about the application for macOS. It’s just this gigantic thing I don’t need. I want some headings, basic formatting, lists etc.

And then there’s Google Docs. It just feels wrong. It’s a weird editor, especially on mobile, it’s in this format I can’t grab, it feels like the files are not under my control.

I’m also aware of some self-hosted solutions like ONLYOFFICE and probably some NextCloud addon/solution. But these are things I don’t want either since it’s usually a hassle to install them, keep them up to date and take care of the data.

I’m just hoping that I’m missing out on something else available except the Microsoft and Google solutions.

At some point I just thought I might stick to Markdown files and export them as PDFs or even Word documents, but I don’t know about any reliable online collaboration solution for markdown docs either.

12 comments

  1. [4]
    stu2b50
    Link
    I have to use this at work as approximately half the documents are in this now (the other half is still google docs). Dropbox Paper: it's the newest weird thing Dropbox is expanding to. But, it is...

    I have to use this at work as approximately half the documents are in this now (the other half is still google docs). Dropbox Paper: it's the newest weird thing Dropbox is expanding to. But, it is free, is markdown formatted, looks pretty out the box, and perhaps the best part is that it doesn't try to be a print-supported editor (seriously, what is the point of Google doc's pagination in like 99% of use cases these days? Who prints things anymore!).

    It has things like comments, etc. Basically it's suppose to be Google docs but it doesn't look ugly af and have a bunch of page-related whitespace eating up so much real estate. Comes with attribution and comments.


    There's also hackmd (https://hackmd.io/), it's just a markdown editor where multiple people can edit at the same time like GDocs. Not as many collab features, but if you don't want to deal with Dropbox, it's there.

    3 votes
    1. m15o
      Link Parent
      Definitely +1 on dropbox paper. There's also a good permission support if you need to share it with different group of people.

      Definitely +1 on dropbox paper. There's also a good permission support if you need to share it with different group of people.

      1 vote
    2. pew
      Link Parent
      I tried Dropbox Paper a few years back, and just tried it again. They have one HUGE issue still unresolved: Every document you create is more or less public. If you create a new doc, they say it's...

      I tried Dropbox Paper a few years back, and just tried it again. They have one HUGE issue still unresolved: Every document you create is more or less public. If you create a new doc, they say it's private but if you share that url or open it in another browser you can read it. So if I paste it somewhere by accident, everything's available. You have to to into another permission setting to really make it private. That's a big no no.

      I'll check hackmd! Thank you

    3. nothis
      Link Parent
      It's weird how often I've been pitched Dropbox Paper, by Dropbox (I have a Dropbox Pro subscription, too), and this is the first time I've seen it explained in an approachable way. So it's...

      It's weird how often I've been pitched Dropbox Paper, by Dropbox (I have a Dropbox Pro subscription, too), and this is the first time I've seen it explained in an approachable way. So it's basically an office suite?

  2. [3]
    onyxleopard
    Link
    Have you looked at Notion? For personal use it seems that the free tier may be viable, but if you need to collaborate with a team, you’ll have to pay.

    Have you looked at Notion? For personal use it seems that the free tier may be viable, but if you need to collaborate with a team, you’ll have to pay.

    2 votes
    1. l4tt3
      Link Parent
      They also have a student plan which gives you the personal pro tier for free (although it seems they now give unlimited blocks on the free tier)

      They also have a student plan which gives you the personal pro tier for free (although it seems they now give unlimited blocks on the free tier)

      1 vote
    2. pew
      Link Parent
      I did have a look at it briefly, I really like the concept and idea but their mobile app is a worse web experience than just opening it in the mobile browser itself. I was reading the notion...

      I did have a look at it briefly, I really like the concept and idea but their mobile app is a worse web experience than just opening it in the mobile browser itself. I was reading the notion subreddit for a while and it seems they're promising a lot of things they can't deliver right now. Like an API is coming soon which is on the list since the beginning.

      I'll look into it again, thank you! I really hope they're improving the mobile experience.

  3. monado
    Link
    This doesn't check all the boxes, but I use CodiMD which has collaboratative markdown note taking functions, and of course can export to html. You don't need an account to use it, but you can make...

    This doesn't check all the boxes, but I use CodiMD which has collaboratative markdown note taking functions, and of course can export to html. You don't need an account to use it, but you can make one in order to save all of your notes. It's really neat.

    2 votes
  4. hail_hydrogen
    Link
    In some privacy circles I've seen cryptpad recommended (https://cryptpad.fr). Never used it in depth but it seems to support at least some of the things you want. I know you can export rich text...

    In some privacy circles I've seen cryptpad recommended (https://cryptpad.fr). Never used it in depth but it seems to support at least some of the things you want. I know you can export rich text as .doc but I'm not sure if you can do it in pdf.
    Maybe take a look if you want :)

    1 vote
  5. [2]
    joplin
    Link
    If you're on macOS/iOS, you can use Pages. It allows collaboration in a web browser (though I don't know whether it's real-time). You can print anything on macOS to a PDF by just going to the...

    If you're on macOS/iOS, you can use Pages. It allows collaboration in a web browser (though I don't know whether it's real-time). You can print anything on macOS to a PDF by just going to the normal "Print" dialog and clicking on the pop-up button at the bottom left labeled "PDF". I think it's free. (I already have it installed, so the App store doesn't show me the price. Sorry if I'm mistaken about that!)

    1 vote
    1. pew
      Link Parent
      It boils down to Pages if I don't want to use anything self-hosted and nothing from Google or Microsoft. At least as long as I want more of an Office like product with collaboration features....

      It boils down to Pages if I don't want to use anything self-hosted and nothing from Google or Microsoft. At least as long as I want more of an Office like product with collaboration features. Haven't given Pages a try yet, iCloud let me down in the past way too often but it seems they got way better.

      I've got a lot of input on my note-taking side as well, so that's a lot of stuff to work on :D

      1 vote
  6. twisterghost
    Link
    This doesn't check all the boxes, but I've been using Obsidian (https://obsidian.md) for a hot second now and it's really great. It's somewhere between Notion and Dropbox Paper in terms of...

    This doesn't check all the boxes, but I've been using Obsidian (https://obsidian.md) for a hot second now and it's really great. It's somewhere between Notion and Dropbox Paper in terms of functionality, but it works on top of just a local folder of markdown files. You can then sync the files using whatever sync service you want (with their own service coming...eventually). It's completely free, too - and has 1st class support for linking between docs, and stuff like a command palette and quick file switcher with fuzzy find.

    I use Obsidian with a folder syncing via Nextcloud. Nextcloud has a good-enough markdown editor for editing docs on my phone or iPad. Then on my laptop, Obsidian gets automatically updated from the sync.

    Has great multiplexing features, and some extra nice stuff like embedding pages in one another, and a fun graph view showing your links. Oh, and backlink support, which is amazing.