Jose Ripiajo had made “Web notetaking. Google Notebook, NotePub or Luminotes, what is best?” suggestion in my sidebar Skribit widget. Which puzzled me a bit (I like being puzzled – keep those good suggestions coming!) because I never really understood online notetaking paradigm.
So by reader’s command I had to enlighten myself and share what I discovered.
Concept of online notes
There are few different approaches to web notetaking but basically it is saving part of web-page or just text for further use.
Biggest challenge here is that Internet is built around links – in live or local (bookmark) form. Handling part of page seem like simplifying but it actually makes process more complex (comparing to storing link) and increases amount of information that must be handled by software/service and user.
- it is tightly-integrated;
- very simple to use;
- doesn’t try to provide a lot – just enough to save few lines of text.
- Development was recently stopped (Google probably not too fond of notes).
- Greeted me with “Opera is not supported” crap (Google definitely hates Opera).
It seems this one was bit of secret agenda in suggestion because Jose has it listed as home page in his Skribit profile.
Purely online service is based around card-like blocks that can be:
- filled with rich text;
As any flexible tool it can be used in different ways and developer(s) used that as excuse to dump on visitor ton of those right from the start. Really – would you trust service you just encountered to become your blog, chat and email substitute. All at the same time?
It looks decent and is easy to use but I just stared at it and couldn’t think how can it be useful to me. Service tries too hard to fill too many shoes. It should slow down and find some focus.
Two separate products – shareware offline application and freeware/payware online service.
- Why separate? It is weird to see offline product that cannot sync with online version of itself. They do promise sync in the future. When it comes to feature promises future can be very far.
- Online service has plenty of paid plans with tiny free one in the corner.
- “Opera is not supported” crap.
Design and usability of online service are excellent, I was awed – especially by use of white space comparing to tightly packed NotePub. It does really good job of slowly explaining itself as well. Luminotes seems like they took wiki and carefully removed all complex functions.
Downside – free version does not allow sharing editing, making service useless as free collaboration tool.
For pure research and working with text WikidPad leaves most of software in the dust. And online services I looked at cannot even hint at something that could make them more useful than WikidPad.
Why bother with online service when desktop applications are faster and better?
Online services have strong advantage of sharing and collaborative functions. However there are extremely useful and established ways to work with those like forums and regular wikis. I can get up my own wiki up and running in few minutes – about as long as it takes to go through registration process for online service. There is no shortage of free personal wikis online as well.
Notetaking that works like wiki but hides internals from users cuts wiki potential by half.
In my opinion online notetaking doesn’t serve clear purpose and tries to adopt and adapt tools that are better in pure form.
- I will keep using WikidPad for research and large amount of text.
- I will keep using Opera Notes – it doesn’t require any subscriptions and is always available.
- I will keep using hosted solutions (like this blog or wikis) for complex tasks and collaborating.
- I will probably keep staring at online notetaking services and wonder how are they useful.
Do you use notetaking services? In any case please share your opinion on them in the comments.