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Basket Note Pads: Open source replacement for Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft OneNote is quickly becoming a "must have" for students, writers, developers, and project managers looking for a powerful means of organization. But Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly on the organizational metaphor. The open source application, Basket, is a powerful option for those looking to kick Windows to the curb.

Recently, a client of mine came to me with a request: Find an open source replacement for Microsoft OneNote. I had actually never heard of OneNote, so when he told me what OneNote did I was pretty confident I could find something for the Linux operating system that could do the same things. My search didn't take more than thirty seconds before I found Basket Note Pads.

Basket is a KDE application that offers the following features:

  • Take notes fast
  • Automatic note saving
  • Share research
  • Centralize product data
  • Reuse data
  • Organize thoughts
  • Add nearly any type of data to a "basket"
  • Keep intelligent To Do lists
  • Import data from other applications

Instead of setting up your notes in a "Notebook" metaphor (as OneNote does), Basket handles your notes in a more standard computer metaphor - a treeview. I tend to prefer the treeview because it's simple to see and navigate through. Instead of having to "flip through pages" I can simply click on a category (or basket) to view its content.

Figure A

Basket Note Pads

Basket Note Pads main window (click to enlarge)

Creating a new basket and it's constituent content is incredibly simple. Go to the File menu and select New Basket. A new window will open that asks what format you want to use: One Column, Two Column, Three Column, and Free. The Free option is probably the most useful (unless you really need a LOT of structure).

Once you have a new basket created, it's time to add content. The adding of content is incredibly straight-forward. The only issue I had was the adding of images. If you right-click the basket area, the "Insert" menu appears. Listed in that menu are the following options: Text, Image, Link, Launcher, Color. You would think you would click Image from that menu to add an image. Not the case. Instead you select "Load From File," which will allow you to load just about any sort of media (from pictures, to music and video, to documents of any kind.)

What I find so helpful about this (and other programs of its type) is that it allows you to do a good deal of "free/associated thinking" on a project (or list, or paper, etc). This allows you to go well beyond the standard note-taking application. You can also tag your Basket content, using the Tags Menu (Figure B) or you can customize your own tags.

Figure B

Basket tags

Basket menu tags

Basket is also perfect for organizing project development. You could create a basket for Application A and insert into the basket all of the pieces of code written so you could have a visual representation of how the code is organized.

I have started using Basket to organize my thoughts and ideas for the novels I write. I find it a great way to slap up various thoughts, ideas, and inspirations for what I am working on. In fact, I have come to leave this application open on my desktop 24/7. You never know when inspiration is going to hit. And when inspiration hits you never know just how it's going to hit. It might be a Web page, a song, a bit of text, anything. With Basket up and running, I know I can always keep track of those inspirations and organize them in any way I need.

So if you're looking for an open source replacement for Microsoft's OneNote - this is it. It's simple to use, reliable, and (best of all) free!

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

11 comments
dalvazquez
dalvazquez

I'm a Windows user at least I had being until Ubuntu 9.0. My vista had a horrible virus and wouldn't even let me reboot it or restore it from manufacturing settings. It took too long for HP to send me the cds so I format it into Ubuntu. I used Basket a lot because I just love OneNote and couldn't live without a journal like it. Once I started using Basket I found it BETTER than OneNote by many things specially the check boxes for the tasks to be done, the ease of use, it is light and it has so many features that are hard to find in OneNote. I went back to Windows because of the files sharing with my family's network computers but I can not stand the viruses, the errors, the pop up windows and the lack of accessibility. So I use Basket as my everything with the OpenOffice and I simply converted everything from Office to OpenOffice and I can still share it with my family in the new Ubuntu 10.0 Thanks for basket, it is the BEST Journal EVER!!!

masood_mj
masood_mj

It would be better if it could import onenote files. Everyone migrating from onenote to basket needs this

Ken Wolf
Ken Wolf

I've been using Basket Note Pads for a couple of months now to store various snippets of information I find in forums and other sites. Almost like a knowledge base application. I like the Grab Screen Zone feature accessible from the Insert menu. Great for capturing screen shots of web sites, etc. I wish it were available in a network version that could be shared by multiple users. Would be very helpful for sharing information.

aroc
aroc

How does this compare to the various all-in-one html personal wiki files, or to Tomboy that is included with Ubuntu these days? I never use them because I find my main "organizing" tool is my calendar on my PPC PDAphone, which includes the WindowsMobile version of OneNote. That did not strike as much more than a glorified NotePad, but maybe I did not look closely enough at the bells and whistles, or is it far less capable than the PC version? Whatever I would use has to work on whatever I can pack on my belt to be really useful for the spurs-of-the-moment. I did like my various Palm PDA's somewhat better, but they make for even less adequate phone/pda combos than a PPC PDAphone - always looking for the better tech/info gadget... Android v3 someday?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

No, I don't. I know I don't because I recently abandoned OneNote after using it for a year. I found I wasn't doing anything that couldn't be done in a simple text editor. Of course, that doesn't mean the application isn't the perfect fit for others.

Jaqui
Jaqui

I've known about Basket for a while, and still have no real use for 99% of it's features. * tag list from Blog butchered to fit limits imposed on discussions.

jlwallen
jlwallen

what is great about this app is you can create a "free" basket that will allow you to pretty much drag the contents of the basket around in any order you want. this allows for a nice free-form organization of notes. on top of that you can add pretty much anything you want to a basket. for example: i'm writing a book and on chapter deals with a particular character. to get inspiration for the character i can add images to the basket so i always have images of the character in my head.

gteachey
gteachey

Basket is not for everyone, I know I've played with it a couple of times, but everyone has their needs, obviously for most users who've read this, all they need is a text editor of some sort, which Basket does, but does other things as well....maybe I'll look more into it, I would like to find a replacement for OneNote myself....

jlwallen
jlwallen

i think the primary audience for this application are students. as a writer i have found it a great way to keep ideas, of various sorts and mediums, in one location. sure i can use open office and keep an outline for a book, but what if i want sound files or other file types that open office can not support?

aroc
aroc

I did list several alternatives, so the comparison is a bit vague to say the least. I can see the potential utility in a case like yours for organizing/juggling many ideas/info-bits. Figuring I could kick the tires, I fired up synaptic on my Ubuntu 8.04 system to see if it was available, found it, and marked it for application, but then was taken aback by all the KDE stuff it wanted to install in the process - is all that really necessary? TIA

Jaqui
Jaqui

that there is a market for it. I'm just not part of that market. I find that for documents I like Conglomerate XML editor. A really user friendly tool for working with Docbook XML schemas, and it supports adding multiple rich media files into what you are working on. not in the same fashion as basket though, more along the lines of a word processor.