Software Review: The Archive

Over on the JD Discord, @johnnydecimal himself asked if I could write something up about The Archive software.

As a loyal citizen of the Johnny.Decimal empire, I’ve done as The King has requested.

You are welcome to read my review of The Archive.

Ha! You will be rewarded with many fine lands and a gallon of mead.

Interesting review, I’ll check it out. Thanks. I do miss the days of nvAlt. I mean yeah you can still use it but clearly it’s falling apart at the sides. The simplicity, the singularity of purpose, were second-to-none.

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Thank you for this great and informative review.
Is there a Windows equivalent for this software?

Another review of The Archive: The Archive Adds Zettelkästen to the Note-Taking Arsenal - Bicycle For Your Mind

I don’t need lands, but can I have some mead?


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Glad to see you here, @macosxguru - I love your website and it’s a good day when my RSS reader gets something from you in it!

Thank you for making my day.


Thanks for this. Wondering if you’ve used Obsidian and had any thoughts about how it compares to the archive?

I’ve tried using Obsidian, and for a number of reasons I don’t like it. I think the main reason for my dislike is it being an Electron app - making it an island of sort that doesn’t benefit from other macOS niceties (e.g. Services menu).

People rave about Obsidian - and it is probably the most feature rich - but it doesn’t tickle me.

Ironically, I do use Dynalist - made by the same developers.

Interesting. I checked out The Archive a little bit. The fact that it’s cross-links aren’t actually true links and the complete lack of a folder hierarchy was a bit strange for me. Plus obsidian’s much greater customisability and things like graph view make it infinitely more useful I think, at least for me.

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Exactly the reasons I also didn’t like it. I opened it, tried a standard Mac keyboard shortcut, it didn’t work, I deleted it.


@johnnydecimal have you tried notable?

Interesting. I’ll have a look. I like that it’s built on VS Code, seems to indicate that I could use the Vim mode plugin?

I see the Mac-heads on this forum aren’t going to help you out here :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

There’s a whole world of notetaking Windows-compatible notetaking software but nothing exactly like TheArchive (not that it’s the best). Zettlr is the closest thing. You can look at many options on the r/Zettlekasten subReddit; there’s a software comparison table on the wiki there. I like Logseq and Obsidian.

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Hmm just noticed that this is currently desktop-only. That’s probably a deal-breaker for me, I need sync across all my devices.

Still gonna check it out, looks neat.

Edit: but the files are just .md on disk. Nice.

Yes. And you can add attachments. Is one of the big draws of notable for me. Currently I’m leaning towards Obsidian for my personal knowledge repository and notable for smaller, project-specific notes.

Notable is cross platform.

@canion So I’m kicking the tires of The Archive and I like it! It seems just powerful enough to be useful (although now I’m a rabbit-hole of theming…) but not too powerful to be distracting (looking at you, Drafts.

I love the way they’ve implemented search, and it’s so nice to have Cmd+L back as an instant, get-anywhere hotkey.

I have a license, but so far have failed to find a great use for it. Just went through yet another round of “wow so many people love emacs and org-mode I should try that again” just to come to the same conclusions and ditch it all. So here I am, back at VS Code + extensions.

At least I did come up w/ a new terminal (Kitty) and got my oh-my-zsh up and running again, including powerlevel10k prompts. It’s so pretty. LOL

Screenshots plz.

I rocked VSC + extensions for a while at work but it was just too slow. Not sure if that was the crummy old HP or the software.

The thing I like about The Archive (or nvALT or that family of editor in general) is the speed. It doesn’t do much but what it does is basically instantaneous.

kitty terminal

VS Code and the never-ending todo list