On my way becoming digitally sovereign I already managed to switch from Google Chrome to Firefox, to replace Google Search with DuckDuckGo, to move all my data from Dropbox to ownCloud. But one of the hardest things to-date was to find a good replacement for all my notes written in Evernote. Over the years I collected hundreds of recipes, grocery lists, travel ideas, thoughts and fragments in Evernote, yet with the time I felt the need for a productivity tool that does not send my data to unknown server locations or reads my notes to better personalize recommendations. Rather, a note-taking app should integrate well with my existing set-up and give me control over where my notes and personal data reside.
Joplin is an open-source app for note taking
Joplin is a note taking app with clients for Windows, MacOS and Linux as well as mobile apps for iOS and Android. Notes can be created with the help of markdown syntax and then be synced across multiple devices. For that, Joplin does not make use of own servers, rather various file sync and share platforms such as OneDrive, Dropbox or the WebDAV protocol (which I will use to sync my notes) are offered. Joplin is open source, meaning you can check the source code on GitHub. People from all over the world can contribute to Joplin, write extensions or submit bug reports. Instead of charging users for the download of the app, donations for Joplin can be made by becoming a sponsor on GitHub or a Patreon.
Why digital sovereignty matters
Apart from moral arguments, here are my personal reasons for doing this change: I want to know where my data is stored. I do not want my note app scanning and analyzing the contents in my notes in order to make personalized product recommendations or to show related content from the web. I want to be able to export and import data easily not just in one file format and not just one note or notebook at a time.
How to set up ownCloud and Joplin
Downloading Joplin and syncing your notebooks with ownCloud is as easy as signing-up for any other app or service (non-techie speaking here). First go to the Joplin website and download the app for your desktop computer. While waiting for the download to finish, navigate to your ownCloud instance either in your desktop client or in the web app and create a new folder called “Joplin” – this is the location where your synced notes will be stored.
Then navigate in the app topbar to
Joplin > Preferences and click on the second item in the left column
Synchronization. You can select from a dropdown with different file sync and share providers, choose
WebDAV here. Now you have to enter your ownCloud WebDAV URL which in most cases is (pointing to your freshly created Joplin directory). Finally, set your ownCloud username and password.
That’s it! Your notes get now synced with your ownCloud. To sync your notes across multiple devices, simply repeat this procedure e.g. on your mobile phone.
After exporting your notes from Evernote you can now import them to Joplin easily. Navigate to
File > Import and select
ENEX - Evernote Export File (as Markdown). In my case it took about one minute to import roughly 100 notes.