My Thoughts and Fears after My 1 Year Subscription to SuperNotes

So, my year subscription expired last month. After contemplating this deeply, unfortunately I’ve decided not to renew at this point. There’s quite a few reasons why I’ve decided not to. I’ll try to touch on them below. Just please don’t get offended by my opinions, I have nothing against SuperNotes whatsoever. Infact, when I first discovered it more than a year ago I thought I had finally found the answers to my prayers.

First Off - Where/what did my money even go to?

In the entire year that’s passed since paying for my subscription, I’ve been continually disappointed time and time again with the speed of development of SuperNotes. It seems like this just isn’t the priority of the creators and more like something they do when and if they feel like it. It doesn’t feel like they are too worried about the fact they have thousands of paying customers depending on them to follow through with their promise of creating a great tool that evolves to fit users needs. While I will say they actively respond and contribute in the community; I would say further developing their product at a reasonable pace far outweighs the importance of community involvement.

So while on that subject, I’ve not noticed a single big feature be released. All I’ve seen are minuscule feature updates that no one would notice if not for change logs. I’m not trying to be harsh, I’m just objectively comparing you guys progress compared with a few much smaller competitors without even a sliver of the same amount of resources and capital that you guys have. Heptabase for example has been releasing updates damn near every single day, yes not every day is a game changing new feature but the majority of their updates have all provided massive improvements and new features that have furthered their product capabilities basically 10 fold in my year subscription.

Some notable updates just off the top of my head in my past year of Heptabase subscription:

  • A new Daily Journaling Feature
  • The ability to visually show relations between cards on a whiteboard
  • Multiple additions to the block editor
  • A reworked card (note) library
  • Card Backlinks
  • Infinitely Nestable Whiteboards
  • Inline linking of Whiteboards in Cards
  • Inline Journal linking
  • A sidebar allowing working in splitview on multiple notes or working on whiteboard and a note at the same time
  • Extensive card property support
  • Live sync & collaboration support
  • Better keyboard shortcuts for outlining
  • Blazing fast performance updates
  • Blazing fast media hosting
  • Local media support
  • One of the best Readwise integrations I’ve ever seen in a note taking app, ever, period
  • File support
  • PDF Viewing support
  • Whiteboard PDF viewing & annotating support

That’s just off the top of my head. I’m sure I’ve missed quite a few. When comparing this with SuperNotes progress it really puts things into perspective for you. Like I said, Heptabase is a very small team without nearly as much funding/capital as SuperNotes yet their progress has outpaced SuperNotes more than tenfold. I can’t fathom why this is the case, the only reasons that come to mind are reasons I don’t want to be true and would like to think the SuperNotes creators are above. In my year as a SuperNotes subscriber I would say I haven’t even noticed a 10% improvement in the product. Can you provide any justification for this?

There’s many many features I’m missing and have been patiently waiting to arrive to SuperNotes. I’ve seen countless people request the same features as well. Nothing ever seems to come of them. One of the main ones that spurred me to post this today is a more fluid system for creating and linking notes with each other than the overcomplicated system of keyboard shortcuts that is and has been plaguing SuperNotes from essentially the beginning. It shouldn’t take 6 actions to create a link to a note/create a new note from a related note. I don’t comprehend the difficulty of implementing the near industry standard feature of [[Wikilinks]].

Another thing that really kills my productivity and leaves me unenthusiastic about renewing my subscription or continuing to use SuperNotes until it’s resolved - Why is there still no Apple Share Menu integration or Shortcuts integration? There are not even basic AppleScript capabilities on Mac. Yes, I know an API was created and being worked on but this obviously requires relevant knowledge in APIs/development to utilize unless you want to sit and wait around for someone to create an integration you’re looking for instead of easily being able to build them yourself with Apple Shortcuts. This is a main reason I haven’t renewed my year subscription yet.

I feel that the priorities aren’t right on the team. It’s actually depressing considering when I first discovered SuperNotes over a year ago I was totally flabbergasted that I found what I thought was the tool to end my seemingly endless quest for the perfect note taking tool. I really hope I’m proven wrong about all this and that things change drastically, and quickly. Otherwise, I fear this is the end of my relationship with SuperNotes which would be oh so disappointing.

Hey Benjamin, thanks for comprehensively writing down your thoughts / feedback about Supernotes, it is genuinely very helpful for us to hear about what people like / don’t like about the platform.

To address your main point about development pace – yes, we hear you and agree that the speed of development has been a bit slow over the past year. There are a number of reasons why we haven’t moved quite as quickly as we would’ve liked (some of them personal), but mainly it has come down a couple things:

Prioritizing Perfection

One of the things we’ve tried to do differently than other apps / platforms in this space is be a bit more deliberate about what features we do and don’t add to Supernotes. We believe that a lot of productivity problems come from when apps add a bit too much bloat or build features in ways that don’t actually jive with the rest of the system or are very buggy. So with Supernotes we have been quite careful about this. You’ve maybe noticed this in the way we handle bugs vs new features. Although there are many features that we’ve been considering for a long time, there are very few bugs we allow to persist for more than a version or two. This is very deliberate on our part as we think it is more important to eradicate bugs (and avoid fixable annoyances for our users) than it is to pump out as many features as possible (that of course always increase the surface area for annoying bugs to crop up).

That being said, I will admit that at times we’ve probably been a bit too careful in this regard. There have been a number of features that we have built but not been happy with how the flow with the rest of the platform, and instead of releasing them we put them on the backburner. But going forward we plan to be a bit more aggressive with pushing features live.

Behind-the-scenes changes / upgrades

We’ve also spent a lot of time over the last year re-building various parts of the platform and make sure they’re future-proofed for new features. One issue we’ve had is that the architecture of Supernotes was originally designed to be web-first / online only. A lot of features were built with this in mind, but as Supernotes has progressed our users have more and more requested that Supernotes behave a bit more like an offline-first app. This has meant rebuilding a number of existing features, but luckily that has been accomplished over the past year!

Going forward, this means that our pace of development when it comes to user-facing features should be much faster.

Small team

Finally (and probably most relevant to your post), I need to set the record straight with regard to the size and resources of Supernotes. I’m not exactly sure why this misunderstanding has happened, but the Supernotes team has always been (and remains) only two people: myself and @tobias. With regards to money, we have also not raised any VC at all, but received a small amount of angel investment more than three years ago and since then have been more “bootstrapping”. Since you specifically compared us with Heptabase, I will note that they’ve raised money from YCombinator and some large VCs and had a team twice the size of ours in mid-2022, which possibly they’ve grown since then (I can’t really say).

Tobias and I do everything ourselves which is a lot of work but we also find it very rewarding. But yes, having only two people is bandwidth-limiting, so in 2023 we plan to grow the team a bit so that we can have more throughput. That being said, our goal will always be to keep the Supernotes team somewhat tight as we want to build a company that is very focused on our mission of delivering a fantastic yet focused productivity tool. That is also the primary reason why we decided not to raise VC money in 2022, as we want to ensure we grow Supernotes in a sustainable way so that users can continue to rely on us far into the future without prioritizing the needs of investors. That may change in the future, but that is our thinking at the moment.

The future is bright!

We have a lot of features that we’ve slowly been building towards over the last year, and a lot of those will be coming soon once we publicly release our mobile apps into the app stores (which is slated for this month). Apple Share / Shortcuts integrations are also coming alongside that!

Notably a feature we have been working on for a while (Snippets) addresses almost half of the items in your list, so we are very excited to share that with everyone in the coming months. This includes various file / integration support as well as more wikilinks-style linking.

That actually brings up another constraint of Supernotes which we are still quite happy with – markdown. Although markdown has slowed down our ability to pump out new editor-centric features, it also means that any notes you create on Supernotes are extremely portable, which cannot be said for a lot of the apps in this space.

But as always we will do our best to ensure that when we add features they flow well with the rest of the platform and don’t distract from the overall goal of making you more productive. You can have all the features in the world (Evernote) but if they lack an overall vision / cohesion they actually have a tendency to get in the way rather than help.

All that said, thanks again for your comprehensive post. Tobias and I are still very focused on making Supernotes one of the best productivity tools around and think we can do a great job of serving up features that matter to our users in 2023.

And now its back to development for me! (almost finished with Supernotes v2.2.5 :blush: )