SUSN: Simple Uniform Semantic Notation

SUSN (Simple Uniform Semantic Notation) is a weird little project I’ve been working on for a while. It started out as a way to scratch a very personal itch: how to create a personal knowledge base / Mind Map / semantic map, using plain text. Each line of the text file would be a single “assertion”, in a format inspired by RDF, but not particularly limited by the “graph” mindset. After building out my text file, I would then be able to query it in various ways using Javascript or any other small language (potentially including Lua, Retro Forth, UXN or other tiny systems).

A large part of the motivation for doing this myself, from scratch, is my failure to find any notetaking software that works the way I think (including multiple Wikis, and Markdown-based zettelkasten tools). That and that I want to be able to take notes on both notepads and mobile devices, yet without using a cloud app.

The name is a play on JSON; it’s not really at all JSON-like, but it was inspired by JSON objects originally, and does run over JSON arrays (or any other data model that provides arrays or lists).

SUSN makes some very unusual design choices that have been informed by the very specific use case of hand-editing plain text in an ordinary text editor, aiming for personal knowledge graph markup, and being line-based. But I like what it has become so far. It fits a niche I haven’t found anywhere else, somewhere between JSON, RDF, XML and Markdown. I’m using it currently in a database / mind-mapping project, and hammering on it to try to make it the best version of itself that it can be.

SUSN currently exists as a very small Node.js script that can parse, write, and query arrays of SUSN lines. (For simplicity, I have chosen not to even deal with the Linux LF vs Windows CR/LF holy war, and leave breaking/joining lines up to the user).

Gitlab is here:


I really like this. Also thinking that in blocks you may have markdown support by default to help with rendering texts nicely.

Interesting! I love experiments with textual human-computer interfaces. There is so much useful low-tech left to be discovered.