HackMD vs Notion: Choosing the right tool for your workflow | HackMD Blog
April 2, 2024

HackMD vs Notion: Choosing the right tool for your workflow

Rachel Golden
Rachel Golden
Telling HackMD's story, building awareness, and meaningfully connecting with communities.

Last month we were faced with the question, “Why should I choose HackMD over Notion”?

It’s a fair question. Because when deciding what tool to use for your documentation, there’s a lot to consider.

Efficiency, functionality, and portability all play a role in your day-to-day workflow.

So we’re diving into some of the factors to consider when deciding between the two.

Streamlined for efficiency

Every day developers juggle countless moving pieces. For them, tooling is not simply a convenience, but a vital component in the workflow. Tooling streamlines processes and enhances collaboration so that teams can build and innovate faster.

Understanding the unique demands of developers, HackMD prioritizes efficiency in documentation. Which means eliminating unnecessary complexities. With markdown, you can quickly capture thoughts, project notes, or incident details and move on to the next task.

Notion, on the other hand, prides itself on being an “all-in-one workspace,” catering to a broad audience with its many, complex features and system-building capabilities. But this approach may cost you in speed, requiring a significant investment of time needed to understand and master the platform.

The time from start to production is a lot steeper than a lightweight and streamlined markdown document.

Developer-focused functionality

For developers seeking a tool that seamlessly integrates with their workflow, while supporting their technical documentation needs, HackMD offers a range of specialized features tailored to them.

With GitHub syncing capabilities, HackMD enables developers to effortlessly link their HackMD documents with GitHub repositories. From there you can pull any info from your GitHub repo to HackMD. And vice versa. Any document written about a project can be pushed to a GitHub repository. Keeping all your documentation in sync.

Building on that, code blocks allow developers to write and format code snippets directly within their documents. Whether it’s highlighting syntax, indenting code, or preserving formatting, HackMD’s code block functionality ensures clarity and readability in technical documentation.

And of course, HackMD supports LaTeX, UML diagrams, and other flavors of formula writing. So when you need to dig into complex mathematical notations or code architecture, you won’t miss a beat on HackMD.

When it comes to developer-focused documentation, HackMD excels in its simplicity and speed; without sacrificing the features you need to do that.

Now, if we consider Notion, it does have an extensive list of features and functionalities. And many of the same ones that HackMD offers (markdown, LaTeX, GitHub integration, etc). But what’s found if you dig a little deeper is that these integrations are not always created with developers’ needs in mind.

For example, the GitHub integration on Notion allows you to connect your GitHub account and create PRs. Sounds great, right? Well, the functionality only allows you to automate task status updates in Notion. You can’t push your documents to GitHub to keep your project and documentation in the same place. Ultimately, this creates a more disjointed experience.

To reiterate, Notion does have an extensive list of features and functionalities. And that is certainly something to consider when debating between the two.

But when it comes to a developer-focused product HackMD shines through.

Own your docs with portability

On the surface, both HackMD and Notion can export notes to markdown. But if you dig a little deeper you find that not all exporting is the same.

HackMD advocates for a markdown-first approach, preserving content integrity from start to finish. When you write in markdown from the get-go, you don’t have to parse your content into markdown at the end of the process, like it’s done in Notion.

Remember how painful it was to move all your content off Evernote? This is what you’d experience again when exporting from Notion. In contrast, a plaintext open-source format can be read by any text editor without missing a dot. This format will outlive Notion or HackMD. Giving you peace of mind.

HackMD’s approach ensures seamless portability and compatibility of your documentation with various platforms and tools. Not to mention the time saved.

Pricing for teams

In any decision-making process, cost plays a significant role. This is especially true for teams looking to optimize their budget allocation for tooling.

While both platforms offer affordable options for individuals, Notion’s team pricing is notably higher compared to HackMD ($8 v $5 annually). With HackMD offering a more budget-friendly solution for collaborative work, teams focused on streamlined documentation workflows may find it to be a more cost-effective choice.

Finding focus with HackMD

Ultimately, the choice between HackMD and Notion boils down to your specific workflow and priorities.

While Notion caters to a broader range of tasks and preferences, with robust - albeit more complex - functionality, HackMD shines in its developer-focused efficiency, functionality, and portability.

In a world where productivity tools abound, HackMD emerges as a focused solution for those who value streamlined workflows and effective communication. While Notion offers versatility, HackMD’s emphasis on straightforward note-taking and markdown proficiency may resonate more strongly with individuals and teams seeking clarity and efficiency in their work processes.