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I Created a Book for My Notes and You Should Too!

Why I keep my notes in a GitBook


Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

It started like this: I was a young Software Engineer and I wrote things down. My mentor told me to write things down and that it was a great habit to get into.

“Don’t write everything down”, he said, “just things that are important.”

That way I don’t have to burden myself with remembering everything, instead I can refer to my notebook. Most of these items were little notes about problems I would run into, but always forgot how to solve them. An example of an early note is something like this:

The first command will list all running processes on a PORT_NUMBER. The second will shutdown a process by PID that we found with the first command. This is handy for when a process doesn’t shut down correctly. Like if a terminal window is accidentally closed and your web server is still running.

My notebook worked for a time, but that quickly became messy. It hard to get at if I left my notebook somewhere. It was messy, because I have horrible handwriting. And, finally, a handwritten notebook is not the best place for code snippets.

I made a good habit of continuing to keep track of these little things, though, and over time my collection grew. It grew so much that I ended up moving my list to something a little more portable: A Github Gist.

This also worked for a little while. My note collection continued to grow and then the gist started to get messy and also was difficult to maintain.

There had to be a better way!

Put It In a Book!

My constant need for organization eventually got the best of me and I realized I needed to find a better method.

I’m a software engineer, so I thought about building a blog. I snapped out of that nightmare and realized that was a terrible idea. It would be fun, sure, but I wanted something now. I didn’t have the patience to build something from scratch.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Occasionally, while software engineering, I read documentation for APIs, software, or services. Around this time I began to notice some of them were using the same service: Gitbook.

I hadn’t planned on writing a book but this isn’t really a book. More an organized collection of notes. I try to keep it free flowing, it shouldn’t be much more than a collection of notes organized by topic. Some topics be grow, and that is fine, but I should aim to keep things note-like.

tiskbaf — Docker. An example of the gitbook that holds my notes

I’ve taken to calling this book tiskbaf. Which stands for Things I Should Know But Always Forget.

Moving to Gitbook proved to be a good next step. I feel like there is a better way to do this, though it is working well for me now. I continue to add to this as I come across things I’m always looking up. I find myself referring to this more than a few times a week. It has definitely been a useful tool!


I find myself referencing this collection of notes almost daily. I love that is a living resource. I can edit when I need to, I can create new content, I can share it if I need to.

It’s clean and it’s simple.

Do you keep notes? How do you manage them? I’d love to read about your solutions in the comments!