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Messages - nevf [ switch to compact view ]

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I don't remember seeing this mentioned anywhere and I did a search that came up don't give me greif if you've talked about this 3 billion times :)

WikiPad is an interesting creature:


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 which has spawned lots of variations.

Some good reading on Wiki's includes: and all the article comments and the follow up articles: and

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.

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.

As I understand it, it is Opera's fault.  Opera does not copy HTML to the clipboard like IE or FF, just plain text.  This also means it doesn't copy RTF either... I don't understand why, it does get cumbersome to always open another browser when I want to save something... but, there you have it.


Opera has padlocks on all the doors. They see this as a big feature as Opera users don't suffer from spyware and the like. The downside is developers can't hook into Opera and do anything usefull. The need to open the doors a little and work with us folks. I've tried contacting them, but never got anywhere.

I've just discovered this thread has come back to life again and I haven't received any e-mail notifications of these new posts. :o

Will try and catch in the next few days. No time just now.

For those interested Surfulater V1.96.2.0 was released this week. See: http://blog.surfulat...sed-calm-seas-ahead/ and http://www.softasitg...showthread.php?t=842

Plus two new articles on "Pushing content into Surfulater from other Programs". Part 1 http://blog.surfulat...her-programs-part-1/ and Part 2: http://blog.surfulat...her-programs-part-2/


And following on from superboyac's post I'd like you all to know that I've just released the latest version of Surfulater, Version

New features in this release include the ability to Import Bookmarks from a variety of applications, including IE, Firefox, Linkman, Powermarks, Compass, Netscape & XBEL files, new Bookmark and Note templates, content editing improvements, more tree item images, improved searching, enhanced XML Clipboard capabilities and more. This is a big update, as you'll see from the releases notes here and in the Help.

If you've tried Surfulater in the past and need to start a new Free Trial simply UnInstall Surfulater and delete the
My Documents\My Surfulater folder. Then download and install the latest Surfulater release and your free trial will start over.

See: Surfulater V1.96, B0.0 released - A Happy Easter for more information on this new release.

Expect to see a new DC discount shortly. :)

"Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world." -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

let me give you my 80/20 version of this that i have learned from my own personal experience and that of watching other programmers:

coming up with a 80% good idea is easy and implementing 80% of the the idea is easy

but that last 20 and 20 can be incredibly mind-numbingly hard.

Amen! But you neglected to say that getting the last 10% down can border on the impossible and can take forever. :tellme: This is where most projects fail and fall by the wayside.

I've been thinking about this topic since the thread was stared and I think I know what I want, I just don't know what it looks like... so here it goes in words.

Rover, good post. I've had this discussion a number of times. Some if not all folks just want to save stuff with the absolute minimum of interruption to their flow. Surfulater does not force you to interact with it in any way when capturing content. You can simply minimize it to the System Tray, set one option and it stays tucked away in the background briefly popping up a small message above the tray, each time you capture something. You get a date created stamp, an article title, the content you've selected to capture which can include a complete web page, and a URL or possibly a file link. This can be a capture from your Web Browser or using Surfulater's Clipboard Hotkey to capture content from other Windows Applications.

To find stuff you can either use the full text search or view all content in chronological (date/time) order.

Now having said that the payback in putting some effort into categorizing and organizing content pays off by making it easier to find information in the future. You can do this after the event by shifting articles off into folders and adding 'see also' links etc, or when you capture the content in the first place or not at all. The choice is all yours.

In the future you'll likely see automated article classification added, which should be interesting indeed.

Reminders are very high up on my own personal wish list.

PS. For info on keeping Surfulater in the background when adding content see the Help Topic | Power Features | Adding content with Surfulater hidden.

nevf, that article you posted last week has really got me thinking about what the solution to organizing notes really is.  I thought tags and categories were the solution, but now I see that they each have distinct advantages and disadvantages.  There must be a way that is the BEST solution, but what is it?  And I think that the solution has to be more than just simply offering both options, that is, both tree heirarchies and tags.  I'm thinking that there's some way to come up with a new system that is better than both of them.  But I can't say what that is at this point.

I don't think there is any one BEST solution as everyone works in different ways and has different expectations. If you had to pick just one solution it would have to be "search'. In other words don't categorize or tag or in any other way organize information, just search for whatever you want. That's pretty much what search engines are about. Some add useful extras such as clustering, but that is simply a layer over the search results. See

When I embarked on the design of Surfulater I spent quite some time looking at and talking to people about various visualization techniques such as 2D and 3D graphs et.all. (see http://www.thebrain....albrain/default.html and ) In the end my conclusion was that these look great and are fun to play with, but you spend too much time clicking here and there and the benefits just don't come through (IMO).

In a similar way, you can spend (waist) too much time organizing and re-organizing tree's, and trying to find stuff in them. I've written about this on my blog and in the forums. kfitting suggestion of filters helps here, but also complicates. Surfulater already has some tree filtering and more is to come. See One or many Knowledge Bases and Tree Filters etc.

You also need to note that Tags aren't really anything new. Keywords have been around in software forever and are in essence the same thing. A number of the early applications we wrote, had keywords, some 20 years ago.

I'm very much looking forward to implementing tags (keywords :)) in Surfulater as I want to see for myself whether they better suite my way of working. I'm very optimistic that they will, but I'm skeptical at the same time. Time will tell.

Re. the aforementioned article. The folks at OSAF (Chandler) are an interesting bunch, but this is just one article and viewpoint amongst many.

Ok back to you. When you've worked out that BEST solution please make sure I'm the first one you tell. ;)

@ all - It would be a real shame to see this thread end. To date it is ageing nicely and just keeps getting better and better.

@ thomthowolf et.all. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE a) Send crash reports to me, b) Join our forums and post your suggestions & criticisms there or if you prefer e-mail me. Don't ever expect that others have reported a problem you are having, or expect some new feature will magically appear all of its own accord. Developers need your help. We do, we really do.

I've fixed two problems in V1.96.0.0 (out shortly) that would cause SUL to crash. One was related to capturing selected contented from very large web pages. This may be what you've witnessed. See here.

Surfulater's memory footprint is quite small, however it is blown out by MS IE which it uses internally. There is nothing we can do about this. However in the scheme of things I don't consider it an issue.

Tags are coming in Surfulater soonish.

Re. Templates and Hot-keys do you mean you want keys for Article|New Article..? Changing templates after the fact should be doable. Added to the todo list.
Search across KB's is planned. Better retention of formatting is on the todo list. I've written about the underlying issue here on my blog.


@all - Re. Hierarchies or Tags and which way to go. There shouldn't be any need to be forced to use one or the other. Surfulater currently has its tree, with the same article in as many folders as you want and its 'see also' cross reference links. Tags will be added shortly. Use either, both or none - you choose, you are in control. Just how it should be. And of course their is fast boolean search.

@ thomthowolf.
-be easy to get information into[evernote]
-be easy to locate information in and get information out of [evernote]

Could you elaborate on where you see Surfulater falls short here and what you'd like to see done to improve it.

@ mouser. I plan to offer another Surfulater discount soon. I just need to get the next release out the door first.

@superboyac. Zoot - Rewriting a 16 bit app to 32 bits can be tough. Most likely a substantial rewrite is needed for a variety of reasons, including updating its UI to the latest techniques. Been there, done that! That said it is now 2006 and it is hard to comprehend that technical issues alone would be taking this long. Programmer's like anyone else get burnt out and loose motivation. Maybe the rewards aren't sufficient or maybe it is time for a new challenge. You'll see this a lot with free software, as the kudos alone can't keep the developers going forever. And any demands from users can fall on deaf ears as they never purchased anything in the first place. Open Source Software is a whole nother kettle of fish altogether, but I digress. These are general comments and nothing to do with Zoot, as I wouldn't have a clue in that regard.

@all. In my never ending research into information organisation I came across this lengthy article today which I'm sure some will find interesting. The article states that one big problem with hierarchies is you can't put an item into more than one folder at once. Clearly they haven't see Surfulater. It also has an interesting discussions on facets and tags, the latter which is slated for Surfulater fairly soon. It concludes that tags aren't very useful either.
The items look like they're multiplying like rabbits Furthermore, the ability to assign more than 1 tag to an item is perhaps more convenient when you're tagging, but when it comes time to understand the landscape of your data in terms of all your tags, the ramplant multiplication of items showing up in multiple tags can make a mountain out of a mole hill of data.

I'm coming in a bit late to this conversation, but I was surprised to see that with all the discussion of tools old and new there hasn't been more mention of InfoSelect. From what I recall this was the product that spawned the whole outliner/notes application genre. (Or at least the grandson of the product. Tornado Notes for DOS was arguably the first outliner/indexed organizer, and InfoSelect is the suped-up Windows version.)

FWIW my take on InfoSelect is that it is a dead duck. You can't even download a version to try, which is unheard of these days. It was without doubt a very interesting and unique piece of software in its day, but I don't think it has kept up with the times. I'm sure plenty of folks are still using it though, just like Zoot et.all.

By the way, can someone please explain what the big deal about Ecco Pro is?  I understand that it was an awesome program back in the day, but is it still all that awesome even with our modern expectations?

I've tried it many times, and I'm always left wondering what's so great about it.  Yeah, it's outlining is nice, but the whole thing is so old fashioned, I can't get over it.

I'd like to ask the exact same question, but replace Ecco Pro with Zoot or Keynote first. I was really surprised at mouser's comment on Zoot!

And why aren't I getting e-mail notifications about these posts? :(

Hi Patteo,
Here's a suggestion - use Surfulater. Grab whatever content from the page into a new Surfulater article, add some notes then download the file and use Article | Attach File... This stores the file in the Surfulater database so you can even delete it from your PC if you want.

What you finish up with is a link to the original site, detailed information on the product including the complete web page if you want and the download file, all neatly put together in one convenient place. Then just click on the file to open it.

Down the track we'll be adding Reminders which will enable Surfulater to prompt you in a week, a month on June 6th etc. to go and install that download you've been meaning to try.

As an aside I'd strongly encourage everyone to use a product such as VMWare or MS Virtual PC when trying out all these endlessly interesting applications, as you never know what sort of mess the leave behind on your PC when (if) you uninstall them or what problems they may create in the first place. If your PC is at all important to you please seriously consider this.

Surfulater works this way. There is only ever one physical instance of a 'note', but it can be in as many tree folders as you want.

Surfulater also lets you link related 'notes' together so you build a web of related information. This is very useful.

It's pretty good: Though I'd like drag&drop enabled on this so that you could simply drag one article on top of another and it would be added to the "See Also" section. That would make it very fast to link your articles together.

Hi Perry,
I think that would be quite confusing as some folks would think the dropped article would be added as a child of the target article.

You can drag an article from the tree and drop it on the 'See Also' field in the content window. You can also use Copy (anywhere) and Paste as reciprocal 'See Also' links,  in the tree and content window.

I don't see a tight connection between the hierarchical tree and tags (labels, keywords whatever).

Tags are separate organizational method which can be used in a variety of ways. For example you get a list of all tags and selecting one shows all notes which include that tag. Tags could also be used in conjunction with filtered tree views. In this mode the tree would only include notes that included a certain tag or tags. With a good implementation of tags some folks might not even use the tree.

In my mind the most flexible method of implementing this would be a FolderType of TagFilter where you could add your tags and/or !tags to the folder query definition and the articles would sort themselves as required.

Then you could have any number of TagFilter folders that would sort your information for you!

Now to add automatic tagging based on content and the display of your information gets very dynamic. Although I'd always want to be able to turn on my Tree View if I wanted  ;)...


I haven't locked down the implementation details for Filters yet and will definitely take your ideas on board. The normal Tree view will always be available.

I've written about automatic content classification somewhere, probably in the Surfulater Customer Forums.

I use a similar, subjective approach - but that's what it's all about, surely? Everyone has different needs and preferences and no one piece of software will please everyone!

Absolutely right.

I was a little disappointed to find that both Surfulator and Mybase are not freeware! Surfulator sounds great. Oh, well.

Do you work for free? If so I'd be interested to know how you provide food for you and your family, put a roof over your head, buy petrol for your car, electricity, water, clothes etc. Maybe you are independently wealthy. How about coming to work for free for me, I'm sure I could find something for you to do.


Here's my suggestion:  for captured material like html pages, it's good to have an editing mode and a viewing mode like there is now.  However, for just plain notes, I'd prefer the editor to just always be in editing mode.  As in, you don't have to click in and out whether it's the pencil or double-click or single-click or whatever.  For just plain notes, you want to be able to go in and start typing, I don't think you want the user to feel any interruption.  Just like this forum's quick reply box--I know if I click inside it, I can just start typing away.  That's what I'm talking about.

Understood. I can see this being usefull for Notes, but not for other article types such as Web clippings. I have a new idea or two I'm going try out shortly.

If you really think my suggestions are useful, I'll keep them coming, especially if you think they apply to the general userbase also, and not just myself.

yes, please keep them coming.

On a completely different note, am I not capturing from the web correctly?  I'm using Firefox, and when I highlight text and capture in Surfulater, it's fine.  But when I capture pictures, there are a lot of those broken links (with the red "x").  What are the limits to capturing accurately from the source in the program?  (I'd post a screenshot, but I've been having a hard time attaching files lately here). 

It should be capturing all images, but not Flash stuff. Let me know the URL of the page in question. You could also try the same page with IE, out of interest.

And the final question I wanted to ask is how to make everything in the right content pane smaller?  I like things much smaller, compact, minimal than most, and everything in Surfulater on that right side is just too big for me.

Not sure what you mean by smaller. Do you mean fonts?

These Surfulater specific support issues would better be handled over on our Support Forums  ;)

a related issue:
opml is an xml markup standard for exchanging "outliner" (hierarchical notes) data.

mouser, thanks for that. I wasn't aware there was a V2 spec in the wind. That said I can't see OPML being all that useful and find its design quite strange and limited. For example outline text is stored in an XML attribute, Dates use RFC 822 instead of ISO8601 and aren't stored as attributes. There is no discussion of how binary data such as images should be handled.

OPML may have started life targeted at Outliners, but it seems to be (only?) used for RSS Subscription lists and such these days. Mind you this isn't something I know much about.

I'm currently doing a lot of work with XBEL, which is an XML standard to exchange Bookmarks. This is much more useful than OPML IMO.

nevf, I tried the patch, and it works!  Yes, that is what I was talking about as far as a simple note article.

One step forward.  :)

Re. editing. Besides the pencil you can hold the left mouse button down briefly on any field to commence editing. See the Help. This works the same as in Windows Explorer to rename files. I plan to enable double click on whitespace to also commence editing, asap. If you have any suggestions in this area please let me know.

I am aware of the issue of overshooting a selection and exiting edit mode and intend to try and address this.

These issues have absolutely nothing to do with the language that Surfulater is written in, which is in fact highly optimized C++.

I can't really see why you feel other programs are faster than Surfulater. Maybe the HTML editor gives this impression! I can tell you that I've put a lot of work into making the core engine in Surfulater as fast as possible. Working with very large trees with lots of content is just as fast as working with small knowledge bases. It is this core that enables us to dynamically provide different tree capabilities and views (with more to come), something I think other applications will struggle to do.

From what you've said the bottom line is to improve the editing experience a bit more and we might help get past some of the annoyances that concern you. Again any suggestions in this or other areas are most welcome.

superboyac, don't let it be said that I'm not up to a challenge.

1) Close Surfulater.
2) Download Surfulater.SurfulaterPatch and unzip the enclosed Surfulater.SurfulaterPatch file into the directory Surfulater is installed in.
3) Start Surfulater.
4) Use Article|New Article|Note
5) Let me know what you think.

Note that I haven't thoroughly tested this template yet and suspect there may be a small problem.

Keep in mind this can be changed to whatever you want. Right now I've just included a single "Note" field which uses the full width of the content window and grows in height as required. Click on the pencil as usual to edit.

You will see one of the benefits of Surfulater's use of HTML and its Article Templates before your very eyes. ;D

The layout of articles and addition of new templates is open ended. Pretty anything you can dream up as a layout for an article can be accomplished. At present you need to write the raw HTML, which is fairly easy, however down the track you'll see the ability to create and layout templates from within Surfulater. Powerful stuff indeed IMHO.

Re. jgiebeler - he has just purchased Surfulater and I mentioned he might be interested in this discussion. I had no idea of the end result, and am pleased to say the least. I've put his post on my blog with his permission. See:

superboyac, Surfulater doesn't have tags at all yet, only the tree. When tags are added they will indeed work much the same as Powermarks, but do more than that.

The tree will still be there just as it is now. If you want to organize in a hierarchy go for it, if you want to use tags then do, if you want to have the best of both a hierarchy and a tags system you can. Nothing will force you into one approach or the other. I'm personally really looking forward to seeing how this works in practice.

Anyone who has worked with large tree's quickly gets frustrated. You can spend more time "working the tree" than getting useful work done. Surfulater provides several tree views such as with/without notes, only notes in a specific folder etc. which help a lot, but large tree's are still a hassle. If it gets too hard to categorize and organize information then people stop doing it and end up with a whole lot of content in an "unorganzied notes" folder as you comment on.

I've also spent some time researching automated text classification systems. The idea here is that new notes could automatically be placed in to specific folders based on their content. After talking to various people, I've decided to put this on the back burner for a while as indications are such systems don't work all that well. Further they'd most likely only be used by power users. That said I'm still interested in this, as well as too many other things. ;D

... It would be extremely powerful to be able to build relationships instead of just a simple heirarchy.  I think the fundamental difference here is that a note won't be restricted to one location, but can be shared between several categories.  Like a note about Screenshot Captor can be under the categories of "Windows Utilities" and "Graphics Utilities", but the note itself is a single note, not copied in two places.  That is powerful indeed.

Surfulater works this way. There is only ever one physical instance of a 'note', but it can be in as many tree folders as you want.

Surfulater also lets you link related 'notes' together so you build a web of related information. This is very useful.

So I guess we want our cake and eat it, too!  We want to be able to have the traditional heirarchy, but we also want the notes to be governed by relationships.  Here's what I propose:  the categories or labels can be structured in the tree/heirarchy format, but the individual notes can be placed in multiple branches of that tree.  Again, I think Evernote is a living example of this right now, if you want to try it out. 

I don't see a tight connection between the hierarchical tree and tags (labels, keywords whatever).

Tags are separate organizational method which can be used in a variety of ways. For example you get a list of all tags and selecting one shows all notes which include that tag. Tags could also be used in conjunction with filtered tree views. In this mode the tree would only include notes that included a certain tag or tags. With a good implementation of tags some folks might not even use the tree.

Time to go get some sleep.

Hi nevf, I hope I didn't offend you with any of my comments...

Let me ask a couple of questions:
1)  Could you provide a more detailed description of what Surfulator is specifically designed for?  It would help us sort out it's role among all these information collection programs.


superboyac, I'm not easily offended and have been in this business far too long to let things get to me. And anyway there was nothing to offend in the first place.

Surfulater's prime goal is to allow information from the WWW to be captured, permanently saved, and then easily found again. It is a tool that anyone who spends any time using the Web to research information would find usefull. On top of that it lets you annotate, edit, and link related content together to build a web of related information. It includes a very fast full text boolean search engine, so you can find information quickly and easily.

On top of that Surfulater comes with a variety of Article Templates such as Contact List, Music Catalog, Todo List, Code Snippet etc. which enable it to be used as a PIM. End users can add their own templates or modify the ones we provide. Down the track we'll be include template editing capabilities within Surfulater. In essence this enables Surfulater to be used as a flexible free form database.

Surfulater also enables content to be gathered from other Windows applications via. the Windows Clipboard. You can create new records using a Hotkey or easily append clipboard content to existing records. And you can attach or link to any files on your PC. Attached files are stored within the Surfulater database. These can be Word documents, ZIP files, PDF files etc. Click on the attachment and it is opened in its native application.

This range of capture and gather capabilities make it easy to bring together diverse content from a variety of sources, to one place where it can be managed, organized and found.

Surfulater is built on top of a very powerful and extensible engine that enables us to develop the product into new areas and add new capabilities we may not have even thought of yet. Part of this is its use of XML for the main database and HTML for presentation. XML means your data is open and accessible vs. locked away in a proprietary database. And of course HTML is very good for presenting information. You can read more about this in "Surfulater, Under the Hood and Down the Road" http://blog.surfulat...d-and-down-the-road/

I've been writing and using Software for a long time and am sick of all the developers who seem to think that the more features they add and the more ways of doing something the better. Another goal with Surfulater is to keep it as simple and as uncluttered as possible. I've written about this in my "Creeping Featuritis" blog post at http://blog.surfulat...creeping-featuritis/ and other places.

An important factor for software developers is that they have to have a need for their product in their own lives. They have to be using it on a daily basis and have to intimately understand their users needs. They also need a long term commitment to their products and customers.

I have lots of plans for Surfulater and you will see it build on its existing core to open it up to new uses and enable more ways to access and organize information. Stay tuned.

For more information visit the Surfulater web site, the blog and the support forums

i was certainly impressed with surfulater but after some use i do miss features that i would have thought basic requirements.

nudone, could you please elaborate - thanks.


I wonder if it would be useful or even practical to combine the typical heirarchical system with the labeling system somehow?  Or have both options available in the same program?  Does anyone think that's even possible, without causing mass confusion, or a breakdown of the organizational system?

High on the todo list for Surfulater is the addition of tags/keywords in addition to the existing tree, and a range of ways to view content based on tags. It will be very interesting to see how this pans out use wise, but I have high hopes. Time and users will tell. :) I certainly don't expect mass confusion. Some folks will use tags, others the tree, and some both.

FYI Surfulater has the ability to store the same article in as many folders as you want, with there only ever being one physical instance of the article. This resolves the common problem of what folder should something go in.
I've written several pieces on my blog and the Surfulater forums about the limitations of tree's, especially as they get larger and larger. I've also spent quite some time looking at alternative ways of displaying tree's such as 2D & 3D graphs but IMO they don't help much. If you had 21 inch or bigger monitors it might be a different story.

Folks I'm a bit late to the party here. I'm afraid I've got my head down working on the next important chunk of Surfulater functionality, and haven't visited DC as often as I need to.

I've never really considered Surfulater to be a Note Taking program, however folks are certainly using it for that. I consider it a tool to collect, organize and locate lots of information. This includes information from the Web, other Windows applications, Files on your PC as well as information you create by hand. I certainly have no intention of going head to head with MyBase or the like.

MyBase has been around for quite some time. Whether it is successful or not I wouldn't know.

There is lots happening with Surfulater and lots to do. If you want to see it cater better for your needs, then please stop by our Forums or shoot me an e-mail. I try to keep an eye on various forums, web sites etc. but there is only so many hours in the day, and lots of code to write.

FYI the next release will have specific support for Bookmarks with the ability to Import from various Browsers and other Bookmark applications. It is looking good so far.

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