Essential Tools to Enhance Dynalist Notetaking

Essential Tools to Enhance Dynalist Notetaking

This is a part 1 response for this question from user “norm” : What do you use for taking longer / more complex notes” in dynalist http://talk.dynalist.io/t/what-do-you-use-for-taking-longer-more-complex-notes/1029

I figured I should probably just write my own post here (on my own blog), since I discussed bits and pieces on the forum many times, but not enough for the complete picture.

For those not familiar with dynalist, you can read about it here

http://vincentmtang.com/2017/06/24/how-i-use-dynalist-io/

Below is what I consider best practices for taking ANY form of notes in dynalist, whether you do CAD designs for a living, architecture, programmer, designer, writer, excel work,sales, etc. I have notes in a little bit of each of these topics so I can say with some level of confidence that it holds up well

I tested out a lot (like really, a lot) of different workflows and below is what I consider the best after about 8 months of using dynalist.io.

Essential tools – Intro to customizing dynalist

First we’re going to talk about 3rd party extensions and tools. Why? Because vanilla dynalist only can do so many things. Here’s what I consider its major weaknesses as of today, 8/8/17:

  • Managing images through dynalist Pro leaves a lot to be desired.
  • You can’t have code-block notes in vanilla dynalist

Those are the two major cons, at least for me, from my perspective when using dynalist as a notetaking tool. While dynalist isn’t exclusively used as a notetaking tool (some like to use it for more project-management style type work), dynalist is awesome at taking notes. More so better than that of onenote, evernote, or any other notetaking app out there

The reason for this is because notetaking apps based primarily on the web/browser are getting to be far better and more advanced than anything purely client side, e.g. a windows app. This is because you can customize web-based notes easily with numerous chrome/javascript extensions, customized CSS to make dynalist even better!

Essential tools – Powerpack

Back on topic now. The two points I mentioned earlier, managing images and codeblocks. The latter is solved thanks to awesome work that @piotr did, with his “PowerPack2 extension”. This provides a huge number of features that many users wanted including myself, such as code-block support so I can add my <insert programming language of choice> notes here

You can find the plugin here:

http://talk.dynalist.io/t/powerpack-2/977

To run this, you have to install tamperscript from chrome

Then, you to install the greasyfork extension here

Essentially what this extension is doing is putting javascript (it does lots of cool things) into your browser after Dynalist loads up, so you can add more unofficial features to it

Essential tools [Imagus + Imgur + ShareX]

Dynalist is great for organizing text-based information, but what makes it great is when you pair it up with backend image support.

There’s an old paradigm that says, “an image is worth 1000 words”. Some things cannot be clearly explained in text-based format, so having some way of adding image is nice. Plus gifs

While dynalist Pro does cover this, it is severly lacking. Namely

  • You can’t really annotate your images
  • There’s no streamlined way of adding images to dynalist
  • If you want to see a snapshot of all the images you ever added… good luck with that
  • You can either hover over to see all your images, or see them in their full glory

In any case, its lacking like I said

But there is a solution to it

I call this my holy trifecta of apps that makes capturing information easy

I wrote a manual on setting up shareX + imgur.com here https://anacondapython.gitbooks.io/sharex-user-manual/content/

But I will briefly summarize how this setup works I will write another post on this in future

Essentially what I am doing is using shareX to quickly annotate + upload images onto my image host imgur. I then get a unique imgur URL. I use this URL and host it into my dynalist notes

Imagus lets me expand my notes so its easier to see.

Demonstration of how I normally take image notes into Dynalist.

What is happening here:

  • I press CTRL+A to run shareX
  • I annotate the image
  • I press ✓ or CTRL+S
  • The image is sent to imgur.com, and I get a unique URL from it. Takes <2 seconds
  • I paste it into dynalist using ![](imageURL)
  • I can hover over image link to see full size thanks to imagus

You can take a screenshot of pretty much anything. Or a gif. This could be from a video source, images from your phone (e.g. I use photos.google.com), from your email, the possibilities are really endless here

Essential tools – Stylish CSS + Dynalist Settings

Its important to understand a little bit on how browsers work.

What happens when your at https://dynalist.io is the dynalist server is sending to your local browser HTML / CSS / Javascript files. That’s what your looking at when viewing your notes.

You can do whatever you want with those files, and add layers of functionality to it. One way is using Piotr’s PowerPack2 to modify a good deal of javascript functionality

But we can also just modify the CSS as well. CSS modification lets you change the “feel” of dynalist, so its easier on the eyes, and allows you to tweak dynalist the way you like it

I wrote a post on it here, about how I setup the look and feel of my dynalist application http://talk.dynalist.io/t/how-are-you-changing-the-look-and-feel-of-dynalist/729/21

To summarize

The general color schema looks like this

Next, we’re going to want to make some changes to dynalist settings so its more functional

Change the following settings in dynalist. I highlighted settings that I find absolutely essential

Next, change your keyboard preferences. The most important one is changing file opener to an easier to access shortcut like ALT+F . Its also important to change the default “Search within document” to something other than CTRL+F so you get access to chromes native highlighting tool

Make sure to also enable your backups here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *