A long time back, I migrated from my beloved Yojimbo to Evernote. I didn’t want to make this transition, but Yojimbo was being sunset, so I had to make a change, and a friend convinced me Evernote was the solution.
And Evernote has been a good tool, although for a very long time the iPhone app was unusably slow IMHO. They have addressed that for the most part, but now the Mac app has become a little flaky. They are also heading in the “more bloat” direction, and when they went to their new-generation apps, they dropped a couple features I liked.
And then, the aforementioned friend put up a blog post about her move from Evernote to Bear!
I’d looked into Bear a while back, but concluded that its web clipping was basic, and Evernote’s is impressive, so while Bear was beautiful, I didn’t feel compelled to make the move.
I gave Bear another look, considering my unhappiness with Evernote’s direction, and decided to migrate off of Evernote and onto Bear.
One big factor is that Bear essentially uses Markdown. I like Markdown, and really like the idea that my notes are in a very tool-agnostic format. I’ve seen too many software applications die (Yojimbo) or evolve in a way I didn’t like (Evernote).
I did some tests, and looks like I can get nice clean exports in a variety off formats, with Markdown being one that I’m confident I can migrate to another tool, or even just arrange in the filesystem and reference that way.
I Hit a Snag
The export process was painful from the Evernote side, as for some reason you can only select 50 notes at a time, and I needed to add tags to entire notebooks that contained hundreds of notes in some cases.
But the real snag came when I was doing the notebook imports. For one notebook, Bear said “47 notes imported”. That was nice, but the notebook had 233 notes in it!
I won’t document all the crazy and tedious process to find out what was going on, but here are the highlights:
1) Evernote was exporting invalid XML.
2) Bear technical support was good, they took one of the notes that I had determined was corrupted, and informed me that there was an invalid element <![CDATA[>]]> .
I used my editor to find and remove these, and the imports succeeded.
3) The one ding against Bear is that when their import parser hit the corrupt XML, it just aborted and happily told me it had imported 47 notes. That really needed to have been an error message, and I expressed that during my email conversation with them.
Did I mention that Evernote only lets you select 50 notes at a time? (Yes. Yes I did.)
This alone makes me very happy to be migrating away from it, as that seems like a completely arbitrary limit.
Not that there should be any limit, but at least if it was 64 or 256 or some other power-of-two, as a programmer I’d say, “ah, ok, that’s crazy, but at least it’s based on some code design decision”.
Snags cleared, my migration continues! More thoughts about Bear to come as I get some time using it.