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Last post Author Topic: General brainstorming for Note-taking software  (Read 505839 times)

Rover

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #175 on: May 01, 2006, 09:28:21 PM »
I don't remember seeing this mentioned anywhere and I did a search that came up empty....so don't give me greif if you've talked about this 3 billion times :)


WikiPad is an interesting creature: http://www.jhorman.org/wikidPad/

It's a regular application, not a hosted wiki.  It is missing quite a few features but the concept is really interesting.  Want to add an item to your todo list?  Type todo: get the mail
It immediately shows up in the todo part of the tree (ok, tree based to some degree).  I'm not sure it will solve the world's problems, but it's worth a look just for the change of scenery.  BTW, it can also execute python code inside your note.   Sick :P

Quote from: from the site
WikidPad is a wiki-like notebook for storing your thoughts, ideas, todo lists, contacts, or anything else you can think of to write down. What makes WikidPad different from other notepad applications is the ease with which you can cross-link your information. Links in a wiki are created by typing in WikiWords. A WikiWord is any mixed case word (also called CamelCase) typed into the editor. TodoList or JohnDoe are example WikiWords. The term wiki means "quick" in Hawaiian, and wikis are all about quickly linking your information together. Wikis are not a new concept, in fact there are many web based wiki servers available.

Real-time wiki WikidPad is not a web server, or application server, or groupware solution. WikidPad is a standalone notepad like application.

IDE for your thoughtsSoftware developers have grown accustomed to certain features from their editing environment that make their jobs easier. Features like auto-completion, outline views, incremental search, easy source code navigation. IDE's that provide these features can greatly increase developer productivity. WikidPad attempts to utilize some of these features to address the problem of personal information management.
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rjbull

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #176 on: May 03, 2006, 10:11:10 AM »
Quote
NEWS: Onfolio Acquired by Microsoft
New release of Onfolio free in the Windows Live Toolbar
March 8th, 2006, Microsoft announces the acquisition of Onfolio and the release of a new version of Onfolio with the Windows Live Toolbar.

Quote
It is an add-in for the Windows Live Toolbar, which you can download from the Windows Live Toolbar download site.

Probably free because it's labelled a beta.



nevf

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #177 on: May 03, 2006, 04:40:04 PM »
Quote
NEWS: Onfolio Acquired by Microsoft
New release of Onfolio free in the Windows Live Toolbar
March 8th, 2006, Microsoft announces the acquisition of Onfolio and the release of a new version of Onfolio with the Windows Live Toolbar.

Quote
It is an add-in for the Windows Live Toolbar, which you can download from the Windows Live Toolbar download site.

Probably free because it's labelled a beta.


This has rightly upset the OnFolio customer base as MS has stripped it right back and also removed Firefox support. Been great for me though as OnFolia users jump ship to Surfulater. See the OnFolio support forums for more.
Neville Franks, "Save anything you see on the Web or on your PC" with Surfulater

nevf

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #178 on: May 03, 2006, 04:48:23 PM »
I don't remember seeing this mentioned anywhere and I did a search that came up empty....so don't give me greif if you've talked about this 3 billion times :)

WikiPad is an interesting creature: http://www.jhorman.org/wikidPad/

...


IMO Wiki's are a good way to present and share information but writing content leaves something to be desired with WikiWords and CamelCase etc.

Another client side Wiki is TiddlyWiki http://www.tiddlywiki.com/ which has spawned lots of variations.

Some good reading on Wiki's includes:
http://www.alittlemadness.com/?p=5 and all the article comments and the follow up articles: http://www.alittlemadness.com/?p=6 and http://www.alittlemadness.com/?p=8
Neville Franks, "Save anything you see on the Web or on your PC" with Surfulater

web_stalker

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #179 on: May 07, 2006, 12:29:01 AM »
Hi all,

Very glad to stumble upon this thread - great reading. Too bad the thread seems to be slowing down. I too am in the quest for that elusive "perfect" note-taking program and have collected a number of links over the years. Being on dial-up, I am unable to download and test all of them. After trying out some programs, I have half-heartedly settled down with Keynote for note taking and MHTArchive for storing local pages. MHTArchive: http://www.systemlord.at.

Here is a thread I started, about a slightly different requirement, without knowing about this one:
http://www.donationc...dex.php?topic=3506.0

Here is a partial list of programs (excluding the ones already been discussed) I have collected. If someone has any experience using any of these products, please share your experience here.

Columbus  http://www.oasys-sof...product/dm/columbus/
Documentor  http://www.geocities...ytobis/MainPage.html
yWriter SE  http://members.iinet...acejock/yWriter.html
Idea Notes  http://www.ideanotes.de/index.htm
Scribe  http://chnm.gmu.edu/tools/scribe/
REMLAP knowledgeBASE http://www.remlapsoftware.com/
Avignon Concept 2006 http://perso.wanadoo...pi.avignon/index.htm
VM Information & Control Center http://www.vmautomation.com/
InfoRapid KnowledgeMap http://www.inforapid.../knowledgemapeng.htm
Jarnal http://www.dklevine....re/tc1000/jarnal.htm

Some interesting apps:

WebKeyNote
WebKeyNote was designed to convert KeyNote (.knt) files to HTML, retaining the tree-like structure of your notes. KeyNote 1.6.5 has a function to do this, but it may not work unless you have the right software on your PC. This is where WebKeyNote comes in. You can convert your entire KeyNote file to multiple HTML files.
Homepage: http://www.hollmen.dk/webkeynote.htm

ABC Amber KeyNote Converter
ABC Amber KeyNote Converter is an advanced utility which converts your KNT (KeyNote) files to any format you wish (PDF, HTML, CHM, RTF, HLP, DOC, CSV, XLS, XML, HJT, and many more) easily and quickly. The software supports a batch conversion, a run from command line, more than 50 languages. Batch conversion ability allows you to convert a unlimited number of KNT files at a time. As all ABC Amber products, it's really easy as ABC and powerful as Amber.
http://www.processte....com/abckeynote.html

thomthowolf

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #180 on: May 08, 2006, 09:11:49 PM »
Every time I come here I get introduced to something I have not seen before.  Thanks web_stalker for the great referrals.  I will try them out and report back.
Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.  - Benjamin Franklin

Rover

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #181 on: May 08, 2006, 09:29:11 PM »
Is this the longest ongoing thread of all time?  ;D

Seriously, though it does speak to a strong desire that some of us have to replace our brains with technology.  At least the memory recall part.   :Thmbsup:

With all of this need, surely someone somewhere has developed the perfect note taking/searching/organizing software.  :P
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superboyac

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #182 on: May 09, 2006, 10:35:09 AM »
Yeah, there's lots of good information in this thread.  There are a few other long threads on this subject around the internet also, but this is the only one that looks at the genre in general, the other ones are more specific to a certain software.

John Buckham's been mentioned here a couple of times, since he has a webpage summarizing the different outliners available (although it's a bit dated).  I recently tried Jot+ which he calls the best two-pane outliner, but it's nothing special.  It's standard stuff, tree-heirarchy, maybe it's a bit more user-friendly than some others, but there are no ground-breaking features there.  Mybase really is the best in that category that I've seen so far, it wipes the floor with Jot+.

Here's something I want to do when I have the time, put together a graphic that takes the best parts of the existing elite notetaking programs, and combine them into one perfect notetaking utility.  Kind of like Frankenote, or "The Ultimate Notetaker", or "The Amalgamation" (I'm not even sure if that's a real word).  I'd like to do that someday, but I can't commit to it yet, and mouser is still waiting for me to do the addressbook review.  I wish I had a secretary to do my non work related tasks.

Jimdoria

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #183 on: May 09, 2006, 04:44:15 PM »
Wow, this thread is STILL going!

I've tried out a number of the apps I've seen mentioned here. When I first encountered this thread, I was using KeyNote. I liked it because it was free, and because it had a nice basic feature set, and because it was free. However, I didn't actually find myself using it that much.

I tried Surfulater and I did like the way it worked, loved its handling of web content, but I found creating original information with it a bit cumbersome. And then the trial ran out. I felt my ability to evaluate it was hampered a bit by not being able to create my own file - I always had to kind of work around the canned content that was in there. I guess that this is the trade-off with offering an unlimited-time trial version, though.

I've got Evernote installed now, but other than some initial futzing I haven't really been using it.

What I actually AM using is One Note. (Which is scary, 'cause when the trial runs out, it'll cost me more than the others.) OneNote has some serious shortcomings, and I have almost zero confidence that MS will continue to support and refine the app for very long. As always, unless it's Office, Windows or IE, you embrace an MS product at your peril. But I suppose we'll see.

OK, well, that's a fair amount of blathering, but it's background for the question I'm asking myself, which is WHY did OneNote win? What compelling feature does it have that makes it usable (for me) the way the others are not? I've come to the conclusion that it's not organizing or searching the information - ALL the programs can do this very well, even if not equally well or in the same way. No, it's PRESENTING the information where OneNote excels.

I'm a very visually-oriented person. While all the programs give me the ability to structure information STORAGE in a way that suits me, only OneNote gives me the ability to structure information PRESENTATION easily. Its interface is almost like a desktop publishing program - you can position multiple blocks of information on a page, whether they are text, tables (sort of) or pictures. Re-arranging things is easy and quick (although often frustrating, as the program often thinks it's smarter than I am and it's "guidance" actually hinders me while I'm working. Another common M$ flaw.  ::))

I have about a dozen pages in my OneNote notebook, broken down by the projects I work on plus some general purpose categories such as Reference. The page I "live on" is the To-Do list page for the project I'm most involved in at work. On this page I have four different checklists (which are super-easy to do in OneNote) that I keep updated. As things are done, they get moved to another "completed" page in the same notebook. If I need to annotate an item, either with text or a quick image, I can add that right on the page and draw a line between the two, or juxtapose them visually. The important thing is, I've been able to create a single view that organizes several different categories of info. I don't have to hunt through a tree or even search - it's just there, all at once, in my face. I can print it off to take to meetings, or just to archive as a snapshot of what I'm working on.

Evernote's "single chronological column only" layout feels a bit like a straitjacket to me, even with the great filtering they offer. And with tree-based metaphors, the display of info is always modal - I might be able to quickly and easily find the four nodes that contain info I want, but then I can only look at those nodes one at a time. OneNote has some of the best features of "sticky notes" type organizers, but wraps them in a more consistent and manageable interface. And now looking back, I recall that this was one of the most appealing things about Info Select - the information was displayed in discrete chunks that you could arrange and re-arrange to your liking.

Ok, that's enough of a rant for now. But it occurs to me there's been little discussion about presentation in this thread. I know some people will see this as a non-issue or even an anti-issue, but for me I think it boils down to being THE issue. It turns out I'm not willing to live with inflexible presentation, no matter how good the organization behind the presentation might be. Does that just make me shallow?  :-\
- Jimdoria ~@>@

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who divide everybody into two kinds of people, and those who don't.

zridling

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #184 on: May 10, 2006, 01:12:42 AM »
I mostly agree with Jim, except for OneNote's shortcomings. It's a great program in so many ways, and Microsoft will push it because it's also a great tablet app — how many of those are around? I like OneNote because of its flawless outlining abilities and its ability to export its content to readable, formatted text in other programs. That's very rare, and saves a ton of time. If I'm correct, I think OneNote is the only original program Microsoft has created since 1997 (not counting InfoPath).

rjbull

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #185 on: May 10, 2006, 04:27:09 AM »
John Buckham's been mentioned here a couple of times, since he has a webpage summarizing the different outliners available (although it's a bit dated).

I like his page because the reviews are clear, fair, short but adequate, and literate.  The drawback is that it's more than a bit dated, it's very very dated.  IIRC, he doesn't even mention MyBase, or quite a lot of others; no Treeline, no TreeDB, not even Keynote.

Quote
I recently tried Jot+ which he calls the best two-pane outliner, but it's nothing special. 

One interesting thing; Jot+'s author provides import from a lot of other formats, either in Jot+ itself or via an external conversion program.  That might mean a more general translation program would be feasible.  If that were so, some of the concerns about committing to the "wrong" program would lessen, if not go away.

Quote
combine them into one perfect notetaking utility.  Kind of like Frankenote, or "The Ultimate Notetaker"

Frankenote?  Brilliant name!   :Thmbsup:

Quote
I wish I had a secretary to do my non work related tasks.

Don't you mean you wish you had a secretary to do your work-related tasks?  The non-work-related tasks are generally more fun...


rjbull

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #186 on: May 10, 2006, 04:35:44 AM »
I mostly agree with Jim, except for OneNote's shortcomings. It's a great program in so many ways,

Hmmm...  zridling, as arch-apostle for OneNote, how about your asking Microsoft for a DC discount?   :D


m_s

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #187 on: May 10, 2006, 05:41:15 AM »
I'll add my vote for OneNote: I find it to be elegant and attractively simply designed also.  I'd go for a discount - but has MS ever been known to give discounts?! 

Rover

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #188 on: May 10, 2006, 09:04:07 AM »
We may have talked about this before... it seems that "Note-taking" has a couple of different meanings.

Zaine mentioned outlining capabilities and that seems like a good thing for taking notes on purpose....like at a meeting or training session.

I've seen a lot of other comments regarding grabbing a bit (byte) of information to tuck away for later -- easy -- retrieval.  We're looking for a dumping ground for information so we can "put this somewhere" and still find it when it suddenly becomes important again.

Since I assume meetings notes might fall into the same category, what we really need is a dumping ground that has two distinct interfaces.  1 for the one-note type, on-purpose stuff and 1 for the Evernote, grab-this-stuff-and-remember-where-it-came-from type.

In both cases, we want to be able to find the information by searching (keyword, date, category), timeline, and some sort of tree view.

Does that sound about right?
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rjbull

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #189 on: May 10, 2006, 10:14:44 AM »
Do any of these programs work with Google Desktop? 

tim254,

Jot+ Notes has a plug-in that allows Google Desktop Search (GDS) to search it.  There are two limitations: (1) GDS will find the text in a Jot+ file, but won't tell you which individual note; and (2) GDS will only index the first 10,000 words of a file, but that's a GDS limitation, not a Jot+ one.

Kingstairs (Jot+ Notes) Web site
Google Desktop Search Plugin (BETA)


superboyac

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #190 on: May 10, 2006, 10:23:49 AM »
I have to chime in on OneNote...

jimdoria's got me curious once again about this program.  I got a free copy from Microsoft a couple of years ago, and I've only fiddled with it a little.  It's definitely an interesting program and has gotten a lot of love from even the most hardcore MS haters, so there's something to be said about that.  jimdoria's singled out presentation as the issue to focus on in these programs.  I'd have to disagree with that somewhat, but I understand his point.  Presentation is a broad term that can include aspects of user interface and organization ability, and probably other things.  I can see that he was focusing primarily on OneNote's ability to just plaster information all over the desktop of the program, which is definitely a cool and unique feature.  For myself, I haven't given that a fair try yet, and when I did try it, I didn't like it because I like the usual style where I can only see one note at a time, it's just easier for me to think about that way.  But, obviously, there is an advantage to seeing multiple notes all at once, and programs like OneNote, Evernote, and Surfulater have implemented this to a varying degree.  Personally, I'm not a big fan, but others love it to death.  In the case of Evernote and Surfulater, I don't like the whole scroll system of just putting the notes one after each other.  Surfulater actually does it better because it still has the virtual tree on the left, so if you don't want to scroll, you can click on the note title in the tree (like a normal tree heirarchy program) and the view will jump directly to that note.  That being the case, Evernote's search feature is hands down the best around, so finding anything is not really a problem.  Then there's Onenote, which doesn't do either of these things well, but it does put all the notes visible in a freeform way, not a scroll.

it's mind boggling to try to figure out which is the best way to do it, and it's all very subjective.  The best to do is to take the best parts of each program and combine them into the ultimate notetaking program, like I mentioned before.  Ideally, the user can decide which "mode" he wants the information presented in and all the modes are available in the same program.  How cool would that be!

thomthowolf

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #191 on: May 10, 2006, 08:42:45 PM »
We may have talked about this before... it seems that "Note-taking" has a couple of different meanings.

Zaine mentioned outlining capabilities and that seems like a good thing for taking notes on purpose....like at a meeting or training session.

I've seen a lot of other comments regarding grabbing a bit (byte) of information to tuck away for later -- easy -- retrieval.  We're looking for a dumping ground for information so we can "put this somewhere" and still find it when it suddenly becomes important again.

Since I assume meetings notes might fall into the same category, what we really need is a dumping ground that has two distinct interfaces.  1 for the one-note type, on-purpose stuff and 1 for the Evernote, grab-this-stuff-and-remember-where-it-came-from type.

In both cases, we want to be able to find the information by searching (keyword, date, category), timeline, and some sort of tree view.

Does that sound about right?
I think you have stated the problem beautifully.  Kind of like having a long term memory and a short term memory mode.  I am currently very happy with Evernote for the "dump it in and find it later" stuff, but there is no good way of really "massaging" the information within that program.  It may be that what is wanted is something that works and plays well with evernote. 
The only cautionary note I have to offer is that it has been a looong time since any changes were made to that software.  Even their once immaculate web forums are starting to show signs of neglect.  I think there may be serious trouble over in evernote land.
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Jimdoria

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #192 on: May 11, 2006, 09:50:20 AM »
@Rover:
One Note does the grab-and-tuck-away thing pretty well, too. You can paste in text from a website, and it will automatically include a hyperlink back to the site you grabbed it from. It also retains much of the formatting. Of course, this is all assuming you're using Internet Explorer. If you try it using Firefox, the text just comes out as:
 :P :P :P :P :P :P :P :P :P :P :P
(kidding... sort of.)

@Superboyac
I think your post makes a very important point. It is VERY subjective. On another board I frequent, there was a discussion about 3-D modelling software and how many different titles and ways of working there are. Someone commented that it was the most personalized kind of software - that there was no "works best for everyone" solution.

I think note taking of software has the same issue. If the software is supposed to model, at some level, the way you think, then there can't be a one-size-fits-all answer, because people think very differently. You wouldn't expect an electrical engineer and a performance artist to have the same thought processes or approach to their work.

So it seems to me that the "ultimate" note taking software either can't exist, or would have to be some kind of super-morphing application, with the user taking a hand in the construction (or selection) of the UI. Perhaps this would look like some kind of free-text database back-end coupled with a dead-simple GUI builder front end that shipped with a number of common GUI configurations out of the box. Maybe you'd start out with pages or tabs (a la KeyNote or OneNote) but you could choose a default UI for each one - the "tree on the left" UI, the "sticky notes" UI, the "scrolling column" UI, the "cloud of tags" (del.icio.us) UI, etc. Then you could tweak the templates, mix and match, or construct your own from scratch.

It would be a pretty major project. Programmatically, though, it shouldn't be impossible. Essentially, you are dealing with two different types of objects that interact with the database. Let's call them "views." You'd need "content" views which show individual database items, and "aggregator" views which show high-level groups of items. There would be a number of these - a tree view, a list view, a tags-only view, a "canvas" view (for those sticky notes), etc. Then you'd need the underlying structure to position and link the views in the application window.

Data interchange is the other bugbear of this project. Ideally, you would want Google Desktop to work with it, because no matter how good it is, you're always going to have some of your data stored elsewhere - in Word files, in presentations, in e-mail, etc. A closed search system would be less than optimal. It should play well with others.
- Jimdoria ~@>@

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who divide everybody into two kinds of people, and those who don't.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2006, 09:56:03 AM by Jimdoria »

superboyac

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #193 on: May 11, 2006, 11:54:26 AM »
very cool, this discussion gathering a little steam again!  Ok, jimdoria, how do we address all this subjectivity?  From memory, I can recall just one application that I've used that has had multiple user interfaces.  When I used to do HVAC engineering, we used this software called TRACE from Trane.  THis program had, I believe, 3 different "modes" and you coould switch back and forth between them, it was pretty nice now that I think about it.  Let me give a little background, information has to be entered into this program on a room by room basis, and the 3 modes allowed you to enter all the information in one large grid (like an excel sheet), or in a per-room basis (with "next" and "previous" buttons), and a third mode allowed you to enter the information in another way which I don't really remember (it had something to do with a different way of categorizing the rooms instead of per-room).

Anyway, the point is that it is possible to do this and there is precedent.  From a psuedo-programmers perspective, let's look at what it involves.  Like jimdoria said, the foundational element of all this is the note itself.  You have a bunch of individual notes that can be presented, associated, and organized in different ways.  Obviously, there are infinite ways to do this to satisfy everyone, but I think the main ones are the tree-heirarchy, scroll, and desktop layout style(these are all existing examples taken from existing software).  Now, the question is, let's say there was a program that could do these multiple modes, how will a note "know" where to go in the different modes?  Do you have to place it 3 different times?  Hopefully not.  I can't think of a solution, but it warrants discussion, and I will think about it and post later.

PS thomthowolf, the author of evernote has posted here under "Evermike" recently.  I don't know what state Evernote is in.  I know that he doesn't publicize his roadmap for reasons given in his forum.

<<By the way, jimdoria, how did you know I was an electrical engineer (or did you just throw that out there)?  Does that mean you're a performance artist?>>

kfitting

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #194 on: May 11, 2006, 04:17:55 PM »
Good point superboyac... it is a concise summary of what I was thinking.  Of course, I rambled more!  But, the idea of having one database of info allowing multiple views is the key to this program.  I would expand your list to block diagrams and flowcharts.  I am working on a project right now (I'm an EE as well) where I wish I could combine Excel, AutoCAD, and Keynote into one program.  Oh well... maybe one day!

Kevin

Rover

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #195 on: May 11, 2006, 05:02:16 PM »
superboyac -  I was thinking about this around 1:00 AM this morning (when I wanted to be sleeping).

The database thing is exactly what I thought too.  Assume that we have a database schemea that has all of the fields we want/need to for tracking notes.  That remains the same for any interface that uses it.

Now put the intelligence for searching, add/edit/delete in your application de jour and it's pretty much done.  Evermike can still use his presentation, Google Desktop can have a nice api to search the data.  Someone can duplicate the OneNote outlining stuff and you're done.

Keep the transaction/record locking stuff in the database itself and you don't have to worry too much about the DDE bugbear.  To make it truely multiplatform, you'd probably need a database engine like MySQL.  That might sound like overkill, but you can do the same thing with applications for Calendars, Contacts, Email, etc.  Just a new set of tables for each application type.

Next we just need to get someone to write a sync. application so we can update our blackberries and palm pilots.

Are we there yet?
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Jimdoria

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #196 on: May 12, 2006, 05:31:25 PM »
There yet? I don't know, do you have a shipping version ready?  ;D

There is precedent, of course, superboyac. (Does that mean one should never do something unprecedented?) ;) The UI idea isn't actually all that far from something like the Visual Studio.NET interface, where you can dock multiple panes in different parts of the application window. And I didn't know you were an EE, though I'm not too surprised. I just threw it out because of the reputation of engineers to be very focused, logical and orderly in their thinking. And performance artist I just chose as a kind of opposite: expansive, intuitive and nonlinear in theirs.

At its barest level, the Frankenote UI would be something like a blank canvas. But since that's too scary for a lot of folks, ideally you'd have the idea of templates incorporated into the product. When you created a new page, you'd be given a choice of which template to base it on, one of which would be the blank canvas. Others would be templates analogous to the some of the UIs of existing apps. So you could have an "outlook" template, a "one note" template, an "evernote" template, etc. Since they're just pre-defined layouts, they would be immediately usable but also immediately tweakable.

A "note" should be able to store any kind of content, almost like a Word document. I can see the need for a few basic note types: formatted text, bitmap graphic, vector graphic. There would probably be a few specialized sub-classes of these, too. Everything else is a view. The trick would be this: as soon as a note is called on to contain more than just formatted text, it silently and transparently changes itself into a view!

So you’re typing away, and you decide to paste in a picture. Behind the scenes, the text becomes its own note and the "note" you were working with becomes an aggregator view containing your original text note and your pasted picture. If you continue typing text under the picture, that text becomes (internally) a third text note displayed in the view, but stored separately behind the scenes. This is all invisible to the user. As far as they are concerned, the "note" consists of text-picture-text. They will never see it represented in any other form.

Inside a view, there can be notes, other views and links. Views need a killer memory as to how they are constructed. Part of a view is its query, or what database items it uses to build itself. Part of it is its formatting rules. Part of it is its nesting rules (what kind of view can I be inside? What kinds can be inside me?) And part of it is its collection of links.

There are two types of links: hard and soft. Hard links are created and maintained by the system. Soft links are user-configurable. Take the above example of a text-picture-text note. The links in that view are hard links. The user never knows that it is actually a view - to them it is just a single note and they work with it as such. But to the program, it's a view with hard links to the two text notes and the bitmap note. Another example of hard links is a table. The table is really just an aggregation of notes (each cell is a note) with hard links that keep them together in the table layout. When you paste Excel data into Frankenote, the program converts it into a native table view and embeds that view in your current note, just like it handled the picture.

Soft links are used by the user to "wire up" the UI. Suppose you start with a blank canvas. You add a tree view - which is a type of aggregator. Now you have a tree view inside a canvas view. The tree view has some default contents - lets say it shows a node for every note in the database (and it shows what the USER considers "notes" - pure notes and views that contain only hard links.) Those tree nodes are notes linked to the view by a soft link. The user could change the soft link and have the tree show only the notes that were created in the last week, or only the picture notes, or whatever. (The notes appear as tree nodes because a tree view's formatting rules specify that this is how it displays the notes it contains - it takes their "title" attribute, assigns an icon based on some criteria, and creates a hierarchy based on some other criteria.)

Now you want to be able to select a node in the tree and view it in the canvas. So at the top right corner of the tree view is a small icon that looks like an electrical plug. You drag this icon out and drop it onto the blank canvas. This creates a soft link and wires the two views together. Now when you select a node in the tree, the note is displayed in the canvas.

This is the simplest case, but it pretty much encapsulates the whole concept. This concept of views is powerful because it is recursive. There would have to be an arbitrary limit on the recursiveness though, or things could get really ugly.

I absolutely DON'T think a SQL back end would be the way to go. I'd say a free-form database engine along the lines of AskSam is a better choice. Take a look at this page if you're unfamiliar with askSam. Especially the part under "Why People have chosen AskSam." Trying to map a beast like this to a rigid field/key/index structure is asking for heartache.
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« Last Edit: May 12, 2006, 05:38:46 PM by Jimdoria »

kfitting

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #197 on: May 12, 2006, 05:35:16 PM »
oooooooooooooooooooo.... I like this idea a lot!  Especially the whole user-defined GUI idea.  This is the type of program I've been dreaming about as well.  The next problem is getting someone to code it.  I suppose it's too big for a coding snack! 

Kevin

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #198 on: May 13, 2006, 09:40:35 PM »
Sorry, I just love this thread :)

I just re-read the first message from superboyac.  After a lot of whinning about bad apps, and dreaming about good ones, it looks like we're heading off in the right direction.

I'd like to start laying out a database for use with MOANTS (Mother of all Note Taking Software -- I'm open to name suggestions).  I started looking for a nice normal database, like firebird, but Jimdoria mentioned using something like AskSam.

I'll start a new thread for MOANTS Database design and we can start discussions for Fields needed and engines.  I'll leave it to some nice interface-type folks to start on the application stuff.  There are probably two or three interfaces to start with, if you count a google desktop api.
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nevf

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Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software
« Reply #199 on: May 14, 2006, 02:43:25 AM »
Quote
So it seems to me that the "ultimate" note taking software either can't exist, or would have to be some kind of super-morphing application, with the user taking a hand in the construction (or selection) of the UI. Perhaps this would look like some kind of free-text database back-end coupled with a dead-simple GUI builder front end that shipped with a number of common GUI configurations out of the box. Maybe you'd start out with pages or tabs (a la KeyNote or OneNote) but you could choose a default UI for each one - the "tree on the left" UI, the "sticky notes" UI, the "scrolling column" UI, the "cloud of tags" (del.icio.us) UI, etc. Then you could tweak the templates, mix and match, or construct your own from scratch. ...

Let me talk briefly about the design of Surfulater. Surfulater is primarily an engine that knows little about what it is doing. What you see displayed in the content window comes from HTML template definitions which are stored in the XML database (knowledge base). There are no database schema's, no complex or proprietary database, nothing hard coded into the application, zip. If you want to add a new template (or form in a more conventional database sense) you can, as I showed earlier in this thread by adding a "Note" template for superboac. And CSS gives you control over the look and feel.
 
Down the track you'll be able to create new templates from within Surfulater itself, instead if hand editing the XML file. In my mind this comes pretty close to a free form database.

Surfulater also uses a tree, witch gives you a variety of different views of the database. This includes folders and articles, just folders, folders with certain articles and a chronological view. More powerful tree views will come when we implement Filters.

The tree is in a dockable/floating/auto-hide window aka Visual Studio. When Tags (keywords) are implemented this window will show a tag cloud, which will provide yet another way of locating content.

Surfulater has a concept of 'See Also' links which enable records (articles) to be linked together to create a web of related information. Simply drag an article from the tree and drop it on another articles 'See Also' field and links are created between the two articles.

Next Surfulater allows you to have a single instance of a record in as many folders as you want, so their is no deciding which folder is the "right" folder for a record. Important stuff.

And as superboyac mentioned you can view all of the records in a folder at once, or just a record at a time, the choice is yours. Again another important capability.

Surfulater lets you embed any files in its database. For example Word Documents, ZIP or PDF files. Alternatively you can add links to external files, so they are instantly accessible, but remain on your hard disk, instead of in Surfulater. The choice is yours.

You can easily push content into Surfulater from other applications. I've recently written about this here and here.

The extensible and flexible design of Surfulater was there from day one, as I wanted to ensure it could be adapted to other uses, besides capturing Web content. I've gone to great lengths to ensure Surfulater is straightforward and simple to use, which belies the power of its core capabilities.

For those interested in more background material on the inner workings of Surfulater I encourage you to read "Surfulater, Under the Hood and Down the Road".

It is great to see this thread spring back to life.
Neville Franks, "Save anything you see on the Web or on your PC" with Surfulater