CherryTree – Notes for Anything

One of the most important aspects of any job is your ability to stay organized and keep good notes. This is especially true during penetration tests. During a typical testing engagement, you will compile an enormous amount of data concerning what you did, when you did it, what systems you were doing to, and what the results were. You then need to be able take that information and convey it in a manner that the client will understand and be able to take action on. These may be folk on the business side of the house, who may not be receptive to overly technical presentations, they could be the business IT staff who prefer overly technical presentations that tell them how to reproduce and/or fix the issue, or possibly both.

In order to accomplish this, organized notes are a must. At work, I use Microsoft’s OneNote because I am a developer in a .NET shop. While I absolutely love trashing Microsoft for many reasons that aren’t always rational (but usually are, lets be honest), there are some things that I think they do exceptionally well. Development tools, system tools and apparently OneNote are areas where my preferences swing into Microsoft’s corner. However, since I don’t live in the Microsoft ecosystem at home outside of playing games, I have been searching for a note taking alternative that provides the organization and functionality of OneNote.

Up until today, I have been using Zim Desktop Wiki. Zim allows for similar organization of notebooks with sub pages and embedding files but has always seemed to be missing some things that I wanted. Things like tables and lists felt a bit clunky to me, tables to the point I sort of just gave up on using altogether. Enter CherryTree.

Cherry Tree has a clean look and native capability for common formatting tasks like lists and tables including a Todo list format that allows you to check boxes off when complete which I really like:

Another thing that OneNote does that I find very useful is embed websites into the notebook. This is nice when you have an article or site you want to save as a reference and differs from simply bookmarking the page because if the page is altered or taken down, a bookmark link will be reflect that change where embedding it into a notebook will preserve the information in it’s current state as long as you save the notebook. There has been several times in my recent past where I needed some information that I knew I had bookmarked, but lo and behold the link was dead and the information was lost forever.

While not quite as convenient as OneNote, Cherry Tree has the option to import HTML files and folders which accomplishes this task with relative ease. First you save the page as a local HTML file, then select Import>From HTML File.

Under the import menu option, there is around 20 other sources that Cherry Tree is able to import from. I’ve only been using Cherry Tree for a day, and there are a lot of features I have yet to try out, but my initial impression has been strong enough that I have switched to it as my main source of record keeping on Linux. As I play around with it more, I may create some follow up posts, or update this post.

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