7 Best Apps for Programming and Coding

By | March 7, 2022

Programming is an activity that is prone to frustration and difficulty even when done as a hobby. Creating a web, mobile, or desktop app is a huge undertaking, and good note-taking skills are key to staying organized and not succumbing to stress, discouragement, and burnout.

But most note-taking apps aren’t designed with programmers in mind, and they can be so difficult to use that they’ll make you give up on notes completely. Here are some of the best note-taking tools for programmers and coders.

Boostnote

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Price: Free

Boostnote is a prime example of a note-taking app for coders. It doesn’t have all the features of modern note-taking apps (e.g. has Markdown formatting and folder-based organization but lacks web clippings or handwritten notes) but has what all programmers love: snippets!

You can embed code blocks directly in normal records, and you can create separate snippet-type notes specifically for collecting and grouping multiple code blocks in a single record. It also supports checkbox-based lists for task management.

The best part about Boostnote is that it’s free and open source, cross-platform, and your notes will sync across all platforms where you use Boostnote.

MedleyText

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Price: $5/month with 45 day free trial

MedleyText is very similar to Boostnote, with fewer features but a tighter focus on the features it has: rich text formatting options, code blocks embedded in normal notes, and customizable themes and keyboard shortcuts. This is especially good for highly productive coders with large projects.

When you embed formatted code directly into a note, the app will automatically highlight the syntax. Or you can manually select a syntax highlighting language to apply to any code block. It supports more than 40 programming languages.

While MedleyText used to be free for local notes, it’s no longer an option. Now a premium app with a hefty free trial like syncing via Dropbox and sharing notes via info.

Quiver

Platform: Mac
Price: $10 with free trial

Quiver is another app like the two above: you can mix and match text (in Markdown and LaTeX format) with code embedded in notes. However, Quiver has a dedicated code editor right inside the app which is cleaner and more responsive than its competitors.

As for syntax highlighting, the app supports more than 120 programming languages. Cloud storage sync is available for Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud and more. And because records are stored as JSON, you can safely use version control to track changes. Shared notebooks even allow collaboration between teammates on large projects. It even has a web clipper!

If Quiver is so great, why is it listed third? Because it’s only available on Mac. While the Mac operating system can be a great programming environment, Quiver is not an option for programmers who routinely jump between other operating systems.

OneNote

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Web
Price: Free

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OneNote is the best note-taking app, period — but until recently, it lacked the syntax highlighting capabilities that programmers desperately need. Thankfully, thanks to a free add-on released by GitHub users, OneNote can now do syntax highlighting for code.

This add-on is a bit clunky, but it’s nice to know that you can finally use OneNote to keep code notes. Since OneNote is one of the best ways to take notes as a student, this is great news for students in programming and engineering curricula.

OneNote is also great for collaborative projects because it shares notes. And the best? It is completely free and available on almost every major platform, both desktop and mobile. (Except for Linux, sorry!)

CherryTree

Platform: Windows
Price: Free

CherryTree is unlike most note-taking apps in that it is more of a private wiki. However, since pages can be nested within each other in a hierarchy, it’s more than adequate for taking notes. What makes it a wiki? You can insert a info to any other page throughout the notebook.

There are other apps like CherryTree, including wikidPad and Zim, but CherryTree supports custom page types specifically for code. Use regular notes for ideas and tasks, use code notes for snippets. As far as page hierarchy goes, both types work in the exact same way.

CherryTree is very fast, making it one of the best lightweight note-taking apps.

Sublime Text

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Price: $80 with unlimited free evaluation version

As a programmer, you probably already know about Sublime Text. True, it’s a text editor and not a note-taking app, but it can certainly be used for taking notes: each note as a text file, and each code snippet in a separate file corresponding to the language.

Sublime Text’s native features are great for increasing overall productivity, and the ability to split into multiple editor panels is a must. But for note-taking and setup, it could be better with some free plugins.

SideBarEnhancements is a must-install for every Sublime Text user. This adds a number of improvements to the sidebar, mostly in the menu when you right-click a file. PlainTasks combines a to-do-style list of tasks right inside the editor. And MarkdownEditing is great if you want your notes deleted in Markdown.

Sublime Text is quite expensive, but the free evaluation period never ends. As long as you can handle the occasional pop-up reminding you to buy the full version, you can use Sublime Text for free indefinitely.

TickTick

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Web
Price: Free, Premium version for $28/year

TickTick is a to-do list app that’s very similar to other apps of its kind, but has one subtle feature that makes it great for taking notes: each list item has a “description” field that’s basically the entire notepad.

As a programmer, you can use TickTick to keep track of all your tasks as individual list items and keep any notes you need for each task. There’s no syntax highlighting or rich text formatting, so it’s better to manage ideas than to keep code snippets.

Plus, you get all the benefits of a to-do list app: folder organization, subtasks, recurring tasks, reminders, priority, etc. TickTick has a free plan with a limited number of lists, and a paid plan for $28 per year.

If you check out this list of note-taking tools to help programmers in your life, TickTick is actually one of the many great gifts for programmers.

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