Au Revoir: The End of Notebag

Au Revoir: The End of Notebag

27th October 2020 | Reading time: 4 minutes

TL;DR: I am stopping work on Notebag. It is causing me lots of stress and guilt and I currently have neither the capacity nor the will to update it right now and for the foreseeable future. It is available free and open-source on GitHub. You can extend it! If you bought your license in the past 30 days, send me an email with your order number and I'll refund it.


So. Here we are. The irony of my last two blog posts being about the start and end of something is not lost on me. I know that a few of you are probably confused, angry and perhaps even a bit sad right now, and I apologize in advance. And some critical voices that have been haunting me around the internet have finally been proven right.

Now let me tell you why exactly I am stopping work on Notebag, what will happen to it and where I will be going from here.

The Why

One or two of you reading this might perhaps know what it's like when you start a new project. You come up with a concept! Ideas burst through your head! You are itching to tear the world apart and make things come alive exactly the way you imagined them. This is an absolute high of productivity and you hack away until late at night, only to get up early next morning and get right back into it.

That was me.

That's how Notebag started, doubly fueled by the fact that the world in 2020 is .. something else and I was shit-out-of-luck in terms of freelancing contracts. So I clung to the one thing I had and put all of my energy into it and I worked to make it into something I thought was nice.

I pushed and pushed each day. Bigger! Better! More features!

And this worked well for a while, until the inevitable tiredness came creeping in. So I put Notebag on the backburner. New freelancing contracts finally started trickling in and I found myself busy with two kinds of work: The one paying my bills and the one I did on Notebag.

It was a struggle. Every day after work I tried to pour some of my remaining energy into Notebag, but nothing happened. I failed to implement the most basic things and bit by bit, this intense feeling of guilt set in.

In time, I started avoiding Twitter. Because everytime I tweeted, I felt like someone out there would be judging me. Why wasn't I reporting progress on Notebag? What was I even up to? And so I withdrew to the confines of Telegram and ignored Twitter. DMs came in asking and I was too scared to reply.

Worst of all, I was and am building this subconscious pressure on myself that I am not really allowed to work on anything else. Why would I work on Project X when Notebag fans are clamoring for updates? That makes me a bad person, no? This has led me to a state where I was afraid to program outside of my contracts. Not a great spot to be in.

When you are not happy with things, you should change them. I am not happy with how Notebag is currently holding a soft stranglehold on my life and so I am changing it.

The What

What does all of this mean for Notebag's future? First of all, I have published the source code. It's MIT-licensed and on GitHub, free for everyone to download, build and play with. In my wildest dreams of course there would be a shining community hero that rises up and picks up where I left off. But that is unlikely to happen.

So at least as a consolation, Notebag in its entirety is available for everyone, for all time, for free. If someone is seriously willing to make pull requests and improve the code, I am happy to release signed builds with those changes included. If anyone has specific questions about the architecture and why my code is so bad, I will gladly answer them.

This is, I think, the most elegant solution. It at least guarantees that the code doesn't just gather dust on my machine, forever unreachable for any interested person.

And since there is still the occasional sale of a license, I offer anybody who bought their license in the past 30 days (after September 27) a full refund, no questions asked. To avail this, just send me an email or send me a Twitter DM.

The Future

Notebags future probably does not hold many further improvements. I still use it as my personal preferred note-taking app, because that was its purpose. It works for me and my workflow and I hope that other people will keep on using it or maybe learn a thing or two from the source code.

Personally I only have one or two side projects, but I'll probably put them on indefinite hold. Clean slate. There's a few other hobbies I've been meaning to get around to and I think right now is a good time to do that. And perhaps, somewhere down the line an idea will strike me and I'll give in to the itch to build again. But the time for that is not right now.

Final words

I would again like to apologize to anyone who put high hopes into this app. Turns out that the detractors who pointed out my legacy of abandoned apps were onto something! It sucks to be known for this, but maybe one day that will change. Or maybe it won't.

As it is, Notebag will keep working in its usual state for the foreseeable future. But maybe Au revoir, doesn't have to mean goodbye forever. Not that I have any hopes of picking it back up, but if 2020 has taught the world anything, it's that life is unpredictable.

For my final point I'd like to give a special shout-out to @Clo__S, who aside from being an early adopter and wonderful source of feedback was probably Notebag's most vocal fan. Thanks for all the support along the way.

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