Review #5: Ema Personal Wiki (Windows, Android)

I‘m on my last year in school right now, and will be in college in less than a year, and to prepare myself for the dreaded final exams, I need to create summaries of my lessons throughout the last three years.

But I hate writing. My handwriting is terrible and cannot be easily read, even for myself. So I decided to do it the paperless way, using a personal wiki app (I’ve tried some outliner apps, and I think they’re more suitable to save chunks of notes instead of long texts).

Ema Personal Wiki is the only totally-free personal wiki app available for both Windows and Android that I’ve found.

Here’s what you would see when you open Ema Personal Wiki:

There are no ‘New Page’ option anywhere on this app. As the Home page said, you only could create a new page by creating a link inside it. The simplest way to do it is by using {curly brackets} or CamelCase. But if you want your new page to have different name with the link, you can use the Markdown [Link name](ema:pagename).

The Edit page is very, very simplistic. No buttons, no options, no keyboard shortcuts; but the thing that bothers me was that there are no preview pane. Because of this, I would rather use a Markdown editor (my favorite is MdCharm) and save the result into .txt format. Yes, Ema would only read *.txt files, not Markdown formats like .md or .markdown.

Here’s a summary for a chapter on my Economy textbook, created on Ema:

I wish Ema would support MultiMarkDown, so I could create tables, citations, and maybe math equations. Yeah, I know that I could use HTML to replace many Markdown functions (such as using <b>bold</b> to replace **bold**), but creating tables using HTML are time-consuming.

After you’re done, you could see your latest pages on Wiki > Recent Modifications (or CTRL+R), along with the date and time they’re modified:

I realized that the thing that differentiates this app with another personal wikis is that the pages stand by their own. The only way I can connect them is by linking them together; I can’t set a page as the parent/child of another page in a tree view, as you could see on this screenshot of Cherrytree. It would make navigating easy. My solution is to replace the contents of the Home page’ with links to my summaries.

Ema also has a search function, which, to my surprise, not only could search page titles, but also their contents:

There’s not much to see on the Settings menu. You can edit the CSS it would use to view pages and set up the default folder for your pages. You can set the folder inside your Dropbox folder, so it would sync to your other computer or your phone, running the Android version.

And by the way, here’s Ema running on Android:

It has all functions the Windows version has, except for the search function. When you install it, it would create a folder named PersonalWiki on your SD card. Every pages you create would be stored there, and you can also copy pages to/from your computer.

The Dropbox sync worked quite well (you sign in via your browser), but every time I close Ema and started it up again, it would forget all of my credentials, and I have to sign in again. I hate that.

Conclusion

Ema is a very simple personal wiki app. It lacks many features, but I’m quite happy with it. I really like the idea of using Markdown; as you know, But if you’re a user of another more popular personal wikis like Zim, Wikidpad, or Cherrytree, you will be disappointed.

If you know any other free personal wiki apps available that has more features, please tell me.

Pros:

  • Fast and stable
  • Uses Markdown for editing
  • Stores pages in easy-to-read .txt format
  • Search function also finds pages’ contents

Cons:

  • Doesn’t support MultiMarkdown
  • No outline/table of contents
  • No categories/tags
  • No search function (Android)
  • Sync function keeps forgetting credentials (Android)
  • Not actively developed

Ema Personal Wiki

Version: 1.6

Developer : Jan Willem Boer

Platform(s) : Windows, Android

License : Open Source

Size: Windows: 790 Kb (Installer) /  1.4 Mb (Installed); Android: 127Kb (Installer) / 304 Kb (Installed)

Portable Version: No

Download: Here (Windows version) or here (Android)

Homepage: Ema Personal Wiki on Jan Willem Boer’s blog

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4 thoughts on “Review #5: Ema Personal Wiki (Windows, Android)

  1. You could also try Zim Desktop Wiki, which has instant formatting and inline preview, and also lots of plugins to extend the functionality. The file format is Zim (aka Wiki markup). However, there’s not yet a fully working android app (you can find some attempts on Github, didn’t try them though), but anyway you can find lots of Android reader/editors for Zim files.

    1. I’m aware of that, but I think the app size is way too big (40 MB, really?)
      The only Android app I found that closely matches Ema in features is QusaWiki, but it also seems like it’s not actively developed.

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