5 great open-source alternatives to Notion for 2024

30 Jan 2024 5 min read

Written by

Oana Năslău

, Content Writer Specialist

If you're reading this article, you are most likely interested to see what options besides Notion are out there for team collaboration, knowledge sharing, note-taking, project, and task management. Whether you're looking to replace Notion and find a better alternative for your team or you're just browsing around, we want to ease your search, cover potential questions you might have, and help you make an informed decision. 

One of our company's main missions is to actively support open-source software and digital sovereignty, so the solutions we'll be looking at today will all be open-source alternatives to Notion, which in return is a proprietary platform. If you're rather new to the open-source world, here are several benefits of using open-source products over proprietary ones:

  • Open-source code is entirely public and available to everyone.
  • The power of a large open-source community: open-source software is maintained and improved by many contributors that develop and test the product.
  • Privacy: opting for an open-source and self-hosted solution, you will be in full control of your data. Simply put, all data belongs to you, which is not the case with proprietary software.
  • No vendor lock-in.
  • Reasonable prices: while the standard open-source product is free to use, additional professional services come with a better benefit-cost ratio as compared to proprietary software offers.

What is Notion?

Notion is a comprehensive tool that combines note-taking, collaboration, and project management, and it comes with many integrations. It is mostly popular for its clean and appealing design and its numerous customization capabilities, which make it suitable for both individuals and teams. Due to Notion's popularity and versatility, some might find it difficult to replace. However, no tool is perfect, not even a very popular one. There are some disadvantages users mostly complain about Notion, such as:

  • A steep learning curve
  • Its cost when it comes to individual users or small teams who need features that are not included in the free plan;
  • Privacy issues due to Notion and third parties having access to your notes and pages, and data such as your IP address, operating system and location.
  • Missing features for project management such as time tracking or the limited offline functionality that makes most of the work in Notion dependent on an Internet connection.

Now it's time to discover what some of the most popular open-source alternatives to Notion have to offer.

CryptPad

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CryptPad is a powerful, free open-source end-to-end (E2E) encrypted platform consisting of a suite of real-time collaborative editors and apps. A ready-to-use alternative to Notion, it is also a great alternative to popular office tools and comes with a major benefit, i.e., total protection of your data. With CryptPad, your content is encrypted on your device before being sent, so no one can access your data unless you give them the keys. On top of that, it is easy to use, it has a short learning curve, and it requires no installation on your machine. Let's see below what makes CryptPad stand out as an open-source alternative to Notion.

👀 Some notable CryptPad features worth exploring:

  • Privacy;
  • Security;
  • Real-time collaboration;
  • New SSO authentication;
  • Self-destructing documents feature;
  • Full suite of applications equipped with tools for productive collaboration: rich text editor, spreadsheet editor, presentation editor, code/markdown editor, Kanban, whiteboard, forms, diagrams and more;
  • Mobile and desktop usage;
  • Seamless editing thanks to the WYSIWYG and Markdown editors;
  • No tracking of your personal data.

💪 CryptPad's strengths

CryptPad is designed with secure and private real-time collaboration features in mind, and it suits several distinctive needs, be it at enterprise or academic level or for personal usage. For instance, your team can use CryptPad to collaborate securely through apps and team-drives while using fine-grained access controls without the risk of any data breaches. The fact that it is a zero-knowledge platform means that it has zero knowledge of the content stored on the servers. Only users possessing the encryption keys can decrypt and access their data. Also, you can use CryptPad anonymously, without being constraint to create an account. This feature is particularly beneficial when working on projects with external collaborators or when you need to maintain a high level of privacy.

Moreover, if you or your organization are handling sensitive information that shouldn't be hosted on the drive forever, CryptPad has a convenient feature that allows documents containing sensitive information to self-destruct themselves. How does this work? You can either set an expiration date when creating the respective document, or share a document via a view-once-and-self-destruct link.

💬 What users say about CryptPad

CryptPad is both secure AND easy to use. No registration required which makes note-taking on the fly so much easier. What's not to love about that? Privacy isn't limited to tech savvy people anymore! Alternativeto review 

AFFine

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AFFine is a next generation knowledge base tool that combines block docs with visual learning and collaboration. It is an open-source product that brings together note-taking, task management, and project collaboration features. Privacy-oriented, AFFine can be used offline, whether you want to view or edit content, that you can seamlessly merge when you are back online.

👀 Notable AFFine features to explore:

  • Hierarchical structure for notes, documents, and page organization;
  • Hyper merged workspace to switch between documents, drawings, and planning in a single place;
  • Real-time collaboration;
  • Block editor with Markdown support;
  • Handwritten notes;
  • Kanban board;
  • Offline-first;
  • Privacy focused;
  • All-page UI.

💪 Affine's strengths

AFFine's standout feature is the one that allows you to quickly switch between paper mode and whiteboard mode, and this can empower your team to brainstorm and collaborate more easily. And for those who are into note-taking on a daily basis, it is worth mentioning that AFFine supports handwritten notes that you can either take by hand or with a stylus and the tool further converts them into text.

💬 What users say about AFFine

Really impressed with how AFFiNE is able to streamline our team's workflow and improve productivity. Switch between different modes to write, draw, and plan all in one place and with data security which we are most concerned about. It makes everything easy. AFFine.pro review

Logseq

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Logseq is a self-hosted Notion alternative worth exploring. It is designed as a knowledge management and collaboration platform with a focus on privacy. The array of tools it provides allows both individuals and businesses to organize notes, collaborate, and improve their knowledge and task management. This open-source platform supports multiple file formats such as Markdown and Org-mode, and it comes with many features for organizing and structuring notes.

👀 Notable Logseq features to check out:

  • Real-time collaboration;
  • Offline work;
  • File tagging;
  • Task management;
  • Queries for pulling together notes from across graphs;
  • Hierarchical structure;
  • PDF annotation, full-text search and a highlights pane with an overview of all highlights in a PDF.

💪 Logseq's strengths

One of Logseq's strengths is its Whiteboard feature, suitable for organizing, visually grouping and linking notes and ideas with the help of shapes, drawings, and connectors. This provides a great UX to all the visual thinkers and learners out there looking for ways to create and connect content for and from a knowledge base. Furthermore, for professional use, the core product can easily be extended with plugins and themes depending on your team's workflow or your business needs.

💬 What users say about Logseq

Logseq is currently the best outline and knowledge management application I'm aware of, and I tested a bunch. I appreciate the outline-only approach, so you don't have to think about files and organizing in directories and hierarchy, you can just create notes which will get attached to your graph via deep-links, or attach nodes to a date. Product Hunt Review

Standard Notes

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Standard Notes is an easy-to-use, end-to-end encrypted notes app that allows you to write and organize your notes and to-do lists. What is more, you can sync these notes across all your devices, because the app works on all platforms, including Linux, Windows, macOS, and Chrome OS. The synchronization across devices is also end-to-end encrypted, so only you can read your notes.

👀 Notable Standard Notes features to explore:

  • Offline access to your notes;
  • Use on a limitless number of web, desktop, and mobile devices;
  • Touch and face ID protection;
  • Tagging system to organize notes;
  • Smart views for customizing the way you're viewing and organizing your notes;
  • Two-factor authentication;
  • Encrypted email backups on a daily basis.

💪 Standard Notes' strengths

Standard Notes' simplicity in terms of features and customization options can be seen as a strength. Instead of being overwhelmed with countless functionalities and personalization options, you can focus on your content. Simply put, you can handle your note-taking and to-do lists through a minimalistic design and a straight forward interface, without worrying about the privacy or loss of your data. The app's powerful encryption system ensures that your notes are always safe and private. Additionally, for professional use, the core product can be extended with a series of plugins or extra storage space, according to the pricing plans. Even with a paid subscription, Standard Notes is an alternative to Notion to consider, because its benefit-cost ratio is still above Notion's pricing plan.

💬 What users say about Standard Notes

I like that it is free and has great privacy. You are able to upgrade if you are interested in themes, backups, and editors. You are the only one able to decrypt your notes. G2 review

Focalboard

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Focalboard is an open-source project management tool for both individuals and technical teams. Its design features boards, lists, and calendars that allow you to elevate your productivity by centralizing and tracking work in a single place. Focalboard is available as a stand-alone product or as part of the Mattermost platform.

👀 Notable Focalboard features to explore:

  • Unlimited boards;
  • Project cards and tasks;
  • Real-time collaboration;
  • User permissions;
  • File sharing;
  • Priority labelling;
  • Customizable templates.

💪 Focalboard's strengths

Focalboard's project and task management capabilities make it suitable for dev and distributed teams that have a lot of tasks and milestones to track simultaneously. Designed with real-time collaboration in mind, Focalboard offers pre-built templates while allowing you to create new boards from scratch. This makes it a noteworthy self-hosted Notion alternative that combines project management and real-time collaboration.

💬 What users say about Focalboard

Simple, intuitive layout and easy to install on a Debian lxc. Just what I was looking for! Alternativeto review

Bonus from us: XWiki

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A second generation enterprise wiki powered by open-source software, XWiki provides extensive customization features, collaborative editing, document management, and granular rights management. It is one of the most flexible and versatile collaborative platforms out there, enabling companies to create, organize, and share knowledge.

👀 Some notable XWiki features not to miss:

  • Hierarchical structure to organize your notes, pages, sub-wikis;
  • WYSIWYG, Markdown, and wiki syntax editors for seamless editing;
  • Unlimited version rollback, history tracking, and version comparison;
  • Powerful Solr search engine with advanced filtering capabilities;
  • Seamless creation of collaborative applications for non-technical users with App Within Minutes;
  • Auto-save functionality;
  • Multiple authentication methods supported: Form, basic, LDAP, custom;
  • Look and feel customization;
  • Annotation and comments to enhance collaboration and knowledge sharing;
  • And many other features.

💪 XWiki's strengths

A powerful open-source alternative to Notion when it comes to professional use for collaborative work and knowledge management, XWiki stands out through the enterprise-level features it offers. From fine-grained access control and strong security features to extensibility through extensions or XWiki's hundreds of RESTful remote APIs XWiki's hundreds of RESTful remote APIs , scripts, and apps made in App Within Minutes, your business can rely on our platform in a myriad of ways.

You can use XWiki as a first generation wiki for content collaboration needs or as a second generation wiki to create collaborative web applications. For over 15 years, companies have been using XWiki for their internal and external knowledge bases, documentation, procedures management, intranet, self-service desk, as a digital workplace, for blogging, and as a public website. Moreover, since each business is unique in its own way, XWiki is designed to support full customization, and it is available both as a free version or as a technically supported one, either on Cloud or on-premise

💬 What users say about XWiki

There are a lot of software out there to store documents, deal with live text, revisions, and collaboration... but most are just another bucket where information goes to die. XWiki is the programmable information management platform. As a platform, you can expand it with functions that make sense to input, link, display, report, and pretty much everything you need to do with your information to achieve your business outcomes. Plus, you don't need to be a hardcore programmer to get to use it efficiently. Capterra review

TRY XWIKI FOR FREE

Wrapping up

By exploring these open-source alternatives to Notion, you can discover new possibilities to elevate your business. For instance, you can increase your team's productivity, efficiently organize information, manage and preserve vital knowledge and collaborate in real-time or asynchronously while having full ownership of your data. Additionally, if your company's operations are scaling up, you'll probably look for custom-made software products. If that's the case, make sure that the solution you're choosing is designed according to good development practices, so it can be tailored to your needs easily. At the same time, factor in whether you require technical consultancy services to guide you through the entire process. One last aspect to consider would be the benefit-cost ratio.

Are you aware of other similar tools? Help us expand the list by sharing with us other open-source alternatives to Notion!

 

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