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Author Topic: Mini-Review: ZuluPad / ZuluPad Pro  (Read 6606 times)
cthorpe
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« on: May 18, 2007, 01:20:51 PM »

SPECIAL DISCLAIMER

This review is not an official DonationCoder.com review, and the opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent the opinions of mouser or any other member of the DonationCoder.com staff.  I am reviewing this software because I purchased it, and I believe that our users would benefit from a look at the features. 

We do not guarantee reviews of programs when we contact developers for discounts.  At no time did the developer ask for this review to be written, and there was no implication that one was expected in exchange for the current members discount or the copies we gave away in the May drawing. 

DonationCoder.com does not receive any commission from sales that our discounts generate.  Our site does not receive any compensation if you purchase this program. 

Basic Info

App NameZuluPad (free) and ZuluPad Pro
App URLhttp://www.gersic.com/zulupad/
App Version ReviewedZuluPad (free) 0.4 and ZuluPad Pro 1.40d
Test System Specs
Quote
P3 866mhz
512 mb ram
Ge-Force 2MX with 32mb of ram
Windows XPSP2
Supported OSesZuluPad (free) runs on Windows and OSX with a Linux port in the works
ZuluPad Pro is currently Windows only
Support MethodsForum
Upgrade PolicyZuluPad (free) is open source and all upgrades are free
ZuluPad Pro is not open source.  The webpage states "As updates to ZuluPad Pro 1.0 come out, you'll be able to download the upgrades for free."  Not sure if major version updates are free.
Trial Version Available?ZuluPad (free) is free.
There is no trial version of ZuluPad Pro.  The developer offers a 30 day money back guarantee.
Pricing SchemeZuluPad (free) is free.  ZuluPad Pro is $15.  There is currently a 33% discount available for supporting members of DonationCoder.
Author Donation LinkThere is a donation link on the webpage.
Reviewer Donation Linkcthorpe
Disclaimers: I have no relationship to the developer, and have received no compensation for this review in any way.



Intro:
Thomas Gersic, the developer of ZuluPad, describes it as a "notepad on crack" that "combines the best parts of a notepad with the best parts of a wiki."  It allows you to write notes on "pages" and link the pages to each other.  Each page you create is given a name.  From that point on, anytime you type that name, it becomes a link to the page.   Also, adding a page, will retroactively make all instances of that word throughout your document become links.  You can also select some text, and make it a link which automatically creates a new page with that name.

You can make the font bigger or smaller, though you cannot select what font is being used.  Also, each time you start the program, it goes back to the default font size.  Also, you can search within any page of your document.

In addition to working on your documents on your local computer, both the free and pro versions allow you to upload your documents to ZuluSync Online.  Once you have uploaded your documents, you can view them online (though the internal links to other pages don't work), or you can download them to another copy of ZuluPad or ZuluPad Pro running on another computer.  This uploading and downloading is handled in the program itself, and works very quickly.

Up to this point, everything I have mentioned can be done in both the free and pro versions of the software.  The pro version adds a few more functions.  First of all, you get the ability to work with rich text.  That means you can use bold, underline, and italics.  You can also set the default font and font size, which will be retained every time you start the program.  The ability to adjust line spacing is another pro feature.



The pro version extends the search functionality by letting you search all of your pages at one time.  You can print individual pages, though you cannot print the entire document at once.  Finally, you can export individual pages to TXT files, or the entire document to a HTML file.  The result is a single HTML file with a lot of javascript and css magic that makes the file only show one page at a time.  All of the links are active, and you can navigate throughout your document just as you could in the program.

Who is this app designed for:

This application is primarily designed to be a note-taking tool.  I do think there is an interesting potential for using this tool to write hypertext fiction.  It could be used for "Choose your own adventure" type stories, or fragmented stories that never read the same way twice.


The Good

Clean interface with attractive icons.
Freeform structure to your documents.
Starts very quickly.
Multi-page documents are stored as single files that are not much larger than a simple text file with all the data would be.
Free online storage of your documents and easy uploading and downloading.
Responsive developer.
Nice workflow once you get used to the program (I have a couple of AutoHotkey scripts that I use with the program to help with this.  See below the review for details)
Ability to store and view files online, even with the free version of the software.

The needs improvement section

One of the biggest issues is that the Pro version can get a little slow.  This is a known issue, and the author points to the rich text features as the cause.  I noticed a couple of times while working on a larger document that I was typing much faster than the program was displaying the text.  At one point, I was probably 10 characters ahead.  When I stopped typing, the text caught up with me, but it was a little bothersome to not be able to see typos and the like as I went.  The pro version also seems to take longer when following internal links.

The ZuluSync function looks like it will be very useful to access data from somewhere other than my home pc, but it is too simplistic.  The biggest problem is that when viewing the file online all of the internal links disappear, and when downloading a document to your local machine, any rich text formatting is lost.

The HTML export could be an issue since it relies so heavily on javascript and css.

If you have a link in your document and put your cursor on it, then click somewhere below the last line of your document, ZuluPad Pro will follow the link.



Once you follow a link, clicking on the back button goes back to the previous page and puts the cursor at the top of the page rather than remembering where you were in the document.

There is a drop-down box for all the pages that you have created and lists them in alphabetical order.  That's all well and good, but it would be helpful if the Index page was kept at the top regardless of the names of the other pages.



When creating a new page, either by selecting New Page from the menu and naming it or selecting text and converting it to a link, the new page has the name of the page inserted at the top which is active as a link to itself.  That seems a little redundant.

The free version has a very odd image in the About box and as the main program icon.  It is a 3-D humanoid figure with extremely large breasts.  That may not be a problem for most, but I'm glad I noticed it before using the program at work (I work with children as young as 5 years old, and it would have the potential to cause embarrassment, etc.).  The pro version has a different image, and you can replace the about image in the free version with something else if you are concerned.

Why I think you should use this product

I think this program has the potential to be a useful note taking program, and has even more potential for creative work.  If you're looking for a quick and easy program to store various bits of interrelated information, this may be right up your alley.  There are areas that need work, but with the free version being open source, and the developer seeming to be responsive to suggestions and bug reports, it should only improve.

Conclusions

I was excited about this program after checking out its webpage.  For the most part, it has lived up to my expectations and is a useful program.  The ability to use rich text and do global searches in the Pro version were compelling enough for me to upgrade.  With those features, I find it easier to organize and locate information easily.  The issues mentioned above, especially the slowdown, are more annoyances than deal-breakers to me.  None of them make me regret the purchase, and the developer seems interested in addressing bugs and requests.



AutoHotkey scripts:

I have created two AHK scripts that make working with this program more efficient.

The first script automatically makes the last word typed a link, goes to the new page, and deletes the name of the page that is inserted at the top (see my "Needs improvement").  I currently have this mapped to Win+Z.  If I know I will be working in ZuluPad for awhile, I use mousers TapTap to map the script to a double tap of the left shift key.  This script does not work for links with spaces in them.
[copy or print]
#z::
Send,+^{LEFT}^l+^{RIGHT}{DEL}!{LEFT}^{END}{SPACE}
return

The second script automatically creates multiple pages.  I use it either before I start typing information so that keywords are already linked, or after I have typed or pasted in a lot of text to go back and retroactively create links.  Each new page will be created, have the page name erased, and at the end will go back to the Index page.  When you run the script, a dialog box will appear.  This script works for page names with spaces in them.  Type in your page names separated by a comma.  Once you hit Enter, just wait for it to finish creating the pages.



[copy or print]
InputBox, UserInput, New Pages, Enter the page names you want to create separated by a comma., , 500, 140
Loop, parse,UserInput, `,
{
Sleep, 200
Send, !F
Sleep, 250
Send, {ENTER}
Sleep, 250
Send, %A_LoopField%{ENTER}
Sleep, 250
Send, ^{HOME}^+{END}{DEL}
}
Send, ^h
MsgBox, Done.
return

If you have the free version, change the last Send, ^h to a Send, ^i
« Last Edit: May 18, 2007, 01:27:51 PM by cthorpe » Logged
Darwin
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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2007, 02:37:24 PM »

Thanks, Carl! Nice little review. I purchased Pro as well, though I haven't played with it too much yet. I like the fact that it makes it possible to link to different pages by making words/phrases in documents hypertext. Nice and should really be a boon with notetaking.
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Liquidmantis
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« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2007, 09:32:29 AM »

Great review.  I briefly looked at ZuluPad, but right now I'm using WikidPad.  It's portable and FolderShare works great for keeping it synced among my computers.  Did you look at WikidPad too?  And if so what swayed you to ZuluPad?
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clif_notes
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« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2007, 12:23:52 AM »

I've been using ZuluPad since it first came out (or close to it). I use the free version for an online job I do. I keep all kinds of work related info in it. It's fast and easy for me to use. I haven't hit the magic "slow typing" point yet I guess.

Tom Gersic is a nice guy and willing to listen to feedback. I've enjoyed using ZuluPad.

Clif
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