Why did I build Scribe?

by Brett Snaidero
12th September, 2018

I designed and built the first iteration of Scribe over the course of 2018, spending many evenings slowing plugging away at my note-taking service. The app is still in it's early days, but I'm excited to see what people think!

For a long time now, I have been a compulsive note-taker. I write notes almost every day, jotting down everything from thoughtfully compiled to-do lists to random scribblings on whatever papery thing in my immediate vicinity.

As a student project at university half a decade ago, I had a task to design an application. I quickly decided to design a note-taking app. I ended up submitting an idea for an app called 'Sleuth', my concept being a note-taking app for budding detectives (you could save a list of suspects, you organised notes in 'cases' instead of 'folders'... you get the picture). Basically, Sleuth was designed to help you crack the case if you happened to be a hard-boiled Gregory Peck-type in some noir film.

Cut to almost a decade later, and here I am having just designed and built the first iteration of Scribe, a note-taking app that is basically a buttoned-up version of that idea. Although the detective theme may be gone, my concept for a tool for collecting and organising thoughts remains.

Scribe presents the first look at what I intend to be my ideal writing app. I've tried to build the writing tool that will finally put an end to my growing collection of physical notebooks and notepads. I wanted an environment for writing that feels frictionless, by eliminating as many of the obstacles to documenting a thought as possible. I want Scribe to feel as inviting as a new book of lined paper.

Other apps have tried to separate concerns by focusing on doing one specific thing well — for example, to-do list apps, or mood board apps. Scribe is a little bit ambitious in that it will try and do a little bit of everything, with key features drawn from some of the "big name" note-taking apps. But rather than taking on more than it can chew, Scribe aims to reimagine these features in lean, user-friendly ways, that don't distract from the main reason you are using the app — to write.

In terms of functionality, I've focused on the basics first, building a powerful text editor around a small suite of features that will form the core of the Scribe experience:

  • Drag-and-drop directory: allowing writers to organise their notes in the simplest way possible.
  • Tagging: for the quickest way to tie your notes together thematically.
  • Autosaving: write without worrying about anything else, your notes will be there when you return.
  • Archiving: you can retrieve notes from the bin if need be.
  • Markdown/keyboard shortcuts: quickly apply formatting using typing shortcuts.

There's still so much I want to do with Scribe, so hopefully there are a few people out there who appreciate the direction I'm heading in with this project. If you have specific feedback about Scribe, I'd be very keen to see what people really want out of a modern writing application.