[Poll] Should we further improve the markup?

The November 2020 Updated made it possible to do all kinds of crazy layouting stuff with Custom CSS (see Demos in Custom rem-level formatting with tags).
I plan to release a bunch of those codes and some additional material possibly inspiring others to even more CSS.

But there is a consideration: RemNote is developed fast. This of course reflects in the markup. A lot of things are not as clean and polished as they could be. (In software engineering this is called Technical Dept.)

Keep in mind though that I am not a dev. I have no insights into why a design descision was made. Maybe it is already as good as it gets.

If there is (large) room for improvement (which I think there is), the question is: Should the devs invest more time into optimizing the HTML (now)?

This is a trade-off.


  • Cleaner, easier to understand markup makes styling easier (for beginners).

Now vs Later:

  • Sooner improvements would break less because there is less already developed.


  • Already existing CSS breaks. The only larged shared theme I know of is Eva’s. But I’m sure there are other many users having made some customizations as well.
  • It is a large time investment without much improvement for most users (except that it is easier to make it look nice).
  • Yes, fix as soon as possible (at the cost of other features).
  • Yes, but wait after all main features are implemented/RemNote is released (at the cost of breaking existing CSS).
  • No, it is already ok/great, what are you talking about?
  • No, I already have much CSS and I don’t want to fix it.
  • No, I don’t need those visuals/I want only real features.

0 voters

What do I mean by “improving markup”?

Basically simplify/fix things that make theming harder. There are many things mentioned in Custom Rem-level formatting with tags.

Compared with Roam Research and Obsidian it seems overly complex:

  • size of the main CSS file [lines of code]:
    • Obsidian: ?
    • RemNote: 10000
    • Roam: 3000
  • size of a custom theme [lines of code]:
    • Obsidian: 500-1000 (list here)
    • RemNote: 2000 (of course this is low sample size)
    • Roam: <1500? (this)

Here is a comparison of a parent and two children in Roam:


The nesting depth of a simple parent with two children block is ~15 while in Roam it is ~10.

Another thing is that the builtin CSS often uses a long list of selectors (some of which are ids) which can only be overwritten by an at least as long list.
As an extreme you sometimes have (to type) selectors like this

#document .document__top-bar .document__options-menu 

Again: Maybe I just don’t know what I am talking about. The devs generally do a great job and maybe it just has to be this way.

Might it be wise to investigate how much of that CSS is flashcard features rather than wiki/outliner stuff? I assume at this stage the devs want to develop as many features as possible while introducing as few bugs as possible, with cleanup a distant dream. I’d say the only sorely needed improvement at the moment are aliases (queries can wait).

I think a better way to write the second option is to say,

  • Yes, but make sure you don’t skip the main app/feature development.

Miss Eva’s CSS codes are already broken, new buttons in queue don’t show, highlights are gone, etc.

Maybe aesthetics don’t seem important, but they really play a big part on motivation and good feelings, which are the basic forces which drive us to use RemNote. I’m not saying I can’t use RemNote without good CSS formatting opportunities. (Nobody said that. Nobody will). But what you (HannesFrank) are suggesting should be the second or third priority in the development of the app. To have a stable HTML format is a really good way of making sure that people actually have the freedom to customize the tool to their own needs, easily.
We are, after all, trying to organize our thoughts, and we should definitely be able to beautify them.
The app is already really mind blowing. Even this editor in the forum is Mind blowing. And there’s always, always, ALWAYS room for more mind blowing awesomeness. :exploding_head: :grinning:

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I read your reply 3 times and still don’t quite understand it. You seem to be for a nice UI but against markup improvements (at least right now).

Maybe there is a misunderstanding: Markup improvements are helping to make the UI better. They might break existing CSS for a short while, but after that you can make things nicer.

Themes and styles would really be a good thing, but my first priority is rally the same :- Being able to use RemNote as my primary workflow! For that, some (a lot) of features in queue and export and editors are needed.


Yes. :thinking: Well… kind of something like that.
Let’s try that again. The quality of the Markup is technically how well organized your HTML is, right? I agreed with you, and that’s what I said :

I also said that :

Which means that Yes :grin:, I do want the markup to be improved, and perhaps fine tuned. But somewhere between wanting it “as soon as possible”, or “at the cost of breaking the existing CSS.”
I think the devs should do it, but relatively slow, without breaking the flow of the main app development. I am not a CSS creator (or what you would like to call it) myself, but I will be soon, and I would definitely like a better markup.
Am I clear now? :sweat_smile:

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