Andy Crouch - Code, Technology & Obfuscation ...

Station & Notion

Photo: Ilya Pavlov - Unsplash

I was getting frustrated with some of my daily workflows recently. I found that I ended up with a large number of tabs running for the various web applications I use daily. Web applications, research and articles meant it was not unusual for me to have over 30 tabs open each evening. This is compounded by having personal and work accounts. I have also been a long-time Evernote user and have found issues with it’s Windows desktop app that irks me. Decreased speed, constant upgrade popups and new version reminders. I have long felt like as a product it had stopped innovating but couldn’t find anything to replace it.

In the space of a week, I came across two apps that have transformed my workflow. They are Station and Notion. How I didn’t know about either before now is frustrating.

Station is an Electron-based application. It aims to be a smart browser which can house your web applications. It allows you to add your web applications from its marketplace. A “Smartdock” to the side of the application handles the organisation and fast switching of applications. You can sign in to multiple accounts for the same web application and Station provides a way to switch between them. It also provides a way to save pages and bookmarks within a web application using sub-menus. I have seen a few applications that claim to do this but none of them is as polished and useful as Station. I love the fact they have a community section built-in which allows you to request and vote on features and get help from other users. Its killer feature is the consistent approach it applies to web applications. The way it will handle opening the right application based on links and other metadata is brilliant. If a link is to an app you don’t yet have installed it automatically installs it from its market place and asks you if you want to keep it. Easy seamless integration. I love it.

Given that I have switched to i3 as my window manager this allows me to group all of my apps in one container on one workspace. Before the Electron haters start hating I have noticed that Station uses very little resources. It does have a built-in indicator to show if it’s dominating your processor.

The second application I have adopted is a replacement for Evernote. Only it’s not just a replacement for Evernote, it’s also a replacement for a lot of web applications. Notion states it is an “All-In-One Workspace” that allows you to write, plan, organise and collaborate. It really does!

Not only can you create notes which mix rich content types Notion allows you to create and manage:

  • Full blow documents
  • Knowledge bases
  • Databases
  • Kanban-style boards

and much more. It provides templates for lots of the above to help you capture your thoughts and plans. It provides desktop, mobile and web applications across all OS’s. It is so rich in features I don’t think I have even scratched the surface. I have migrated my Evernote content to Notion and my Trello content. The bonus for me with Notion over Trello is configurable reminders on tasks.

The great thing with Notion is that it allows you to create workspaces. These can have public and private sections and can be collaborated on by teams. For a new project I am working on I have a wiki, project documents, a Kanban board and contacts database all set up in a workspace with several collaborators.

Notion starts free but provides a good set of features for $4 per month.

Both of these applications have looked at the existing market and done something new and original. Neither is the standard copy of an existing app but instead, add value through doing it differently. Station is a very simple idea delivered very well and I am surprised it has taken a team this long to do it. Therein perhaps lies the secret, getting the right team behind the idea. Notion is a new and simple way to manage data collaboration and has combined several existing ideas to create a powerful and compelling application. I am happy to have found both.

If you have any tips or comments on either app or your would to discuss my thoughts above then please contact me via twitter or email.