Tomboy Notes on the Web and your iPhone

Yesterday I was backing up my home directory to move everything over to a larger drive and a new install of Ubuntu, and for some reason I was curious which format my Tomboy notes were stored in. When I discovered that the ‘.note’ files in  ~/.tomboy/ were XML files, I was excited about the idea of creating a web interface for Tomboy with PHP.

I searched the Tomboy mailing list and browsed around the wiki, and found that I wasn’t the first person to think of this (of course). I found a blog post about a mockup for Tomboy Online, but this was more of a hosted, social type of app and I was interested in making a standalone script. Also, it was only a concept, and no code exists for it.  In the comments of this article there was a link to tomboy-web, but it was written in Java, so I couldn’t really play with it.

Eventually I came across the shell scripts and PHP of Erik Torsner, which I only needed to tweak slightly in order to use with the fantastic iUI library.

Rather than using shell scripts to sync up, I suggest following the steps outlined in Synchronize Tomboy Notes with Anything.

Download / Install

  1. Grab the zip file (demo)
  2. Unzip and upload to your web server BUT not before reading the security warning below.
  3. Put your .note files in the ‘note-storage’ directory, either by manually uploading notes every once in a while or (way cooler) following the instructions in this blog post.


This is only a proof of concept, it’s a really bad idea to sync your confidential tomboy notes to your webserver. There are no security measures whatsoever. On the other hand, WordPress has an optional ‘blog by email’ feature which relies on the obscurity of a secret email address… if you are going to risk it, place the files in a very obscure directory (named as an md5 hash or similar).


  1. Erik Torsner says:

    Great to see that you found my script useful. I’ve replaced my old Sony Ericsson phone for an iphone now, so I’ll give your version a try right away.

  2. Cory says:

    Hey Perry,
    Lets make something awesome!
    This iPhone thing inspired me to try to make something more useful. I made decent progress so far. I have it so that it has a more useful interface (for a real browser) and it allows all of the Tomboy style options to be displayed. I want to make it so that it can be edited and saved with a modified version of the JavaScript WISYWIG editor TinyMCE. I have made some decent progress, but I have realized I don’t have the time to make this fully functional on my own. Let me know if you are interested in helping.

    Here is a screenshot of what I have so far:

    My current tasks are saving, deleting, creating a new note, and getting highlight and strikethrough buttons into TinyMCE. We may have to look into the Tomboy source code to see exactly how their saving convention works.

    Hope you are interested! We could make this into a full open source project.


  3. BigBri says:

    I love the idea – I take a lot of notes at work using my iPhone, and I also use Tomboy at home – what about developing an app for the iPhone?

  4. Patrik Olterman says:

    Yes, iPhone app, that is what we need, and a working script for tomboy on mac ….. !!!!

  5. rlod says:

    Hej Cory, Perry,
    Is there more then a screenshot/mockup available today?

  6. [...] qui souhaite consulter ses notes en déplacement, il est existe une solution (même pour l’iPhone). Cependant, il est nécessaire de “pousser” les données manuellement vers un serveur [...]

  7. [...] Znalazłem – Tomboy – tą aplikację chciałbym Wam przestawić. Dla tych co jej nie znają - jest to jedna z bardziej popularnych aplikacji do tworzenia notek, prostota jej działania oraz akceptacja styli daje znaczną przewagę nad innymi tego pokroju aplikacjami. Dostępna dla Linux’a, OS X’a oraz Windowsa oraz w produkcji pod Androida oraz szkice pod iPhona. [...]

  8. [...] notes using the Tomdroid application. For iPhone users there is a DIY method out there. Here’s a link to an article explaining the [...]

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