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 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 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!