Differences between NotePlan 2 and NotePlan 3
If you are wondering which version to get, because both are still on the AppStore, we strongly recommend taking NotePlan 3 (NP3), despite the higher price and the subscription model. Simply because NotePlan 3 is under active development and an improvement compared to NotePlan 2 (NP2).
NP2 is a one-time purchase, macOS, and iOS versions have to be purchased separately. NP3 is a single recurring subscription for all your devices.
NP2 syncs using iCloud Drive. NP3 uses primarily CloudKit, but you can switch to iCloud Drive if needed. Both offer Dropbox, which is in beta and not stable. This option is left in both apps as an absolute fallback. CloudKit is faster than iCloud Drive, which sometimes doesn't sync at all until you open the Files app (iOS) or iCloud Drive folder (macOS).
In the case of iCloud Drive, NotePlan doesn't have control over when the notes are synced. The operating system decides, which is a big disadvantage over CloudKit, where NotePlan has direct control over the sync process.
Both versions use the same file format, plain text markdown files. In NP3 you can change the file extension to ".md" and make your notes compatible with other markdown apps like Obsidian.
NP3 comes with new features almost every month and beta versions, whereas NP2's development is frozen. No new features are added. It's kept on the AppStore due to visibility reasons and to support customers who decided not to switch to the new version.
NP3's interface has been refocused for note-taking and redesigned. The editor moved into the center of the window. In the left sidebar, you can create folders (and sub-folders) and move notes around, whereas the right sidebar has all the calendar information for the selected day. The Week View is editable, so you can not just view your tasks but also update things from there.
In NP3 you can fold text at headings, Markdown URLs are hidden, so they don't take up so much space, and soon also code fencing (from version 3.0.23). Furthermore, you have backlinks at the top of your note. So anything you linked using [[note name]] has a backlink entry at the top. This way you can build your Personal Knowledge Management System. See My Zettelkasten Workflow for more about this. Backlinks also automatically update if you change the note name.
NP3 has a command bar (CMD+J) which you can use to quickly switch between notes and days just by typing the name. You can also create tasks from here and launch plugins.
In NP3 you can develop or download community plugins to improve your workflow, such as "Templates" (create and insert templates), "Task Sweeper" (sweep scheduled tasks from the past to today), and "Statistics" (see word count, note counts and more).
You can customize your themes, change colors, fonts, strikethrough, underline, highlighting, and more.
You can assign a time to your tasks just by writing "* buy milk at 2 pm-3 pm" and see the time block on the right in your timeline.