I have been using a new(ish) program called Evernote on my work computer and laptop, and like it a lot. Thought I’d give a short review and list the features I would like to see.
Evernote is a note taking application. In functionality, it is pretty similar to Google Notebook, with a couple of big differences. You can arrange notes by dragging and dropping, add content by using a bookmarklet or a plugin (more on that later) and tag notes. Some of the standout features of the web interface over Google Notebook are saved searches and text in image recognition.
Screenshot of Evernote on a Mac by Kelly Sims
Where Evernote really stands out, though, is the fact that they have several stand alone apps to go with the web version. The products sync together very nicely. I have a version installed on a laptop, my work computer (it does not alter the registry, so if you can install a portable application, you can install Evernote), and my home PC. They have a Mac and PC version and a Windows Mobile version, as well as an application for the iPhone. Unfortunately, their Windows Mobile version is for 2005, so I can’t try that out. The desktop version for PC has been very stable for me. There is also a Firefox browser plugin, which you can ONLY get if you install the application – so no Firefox plugin on Linux.
The big advantage to having the stand alone application is the integration with the operating system. Selecting text and hitting caps lock twice saves the text into my Evernote notebook (unfortunately, into the last one open. I wish I could change this). I can also select any part of the screen to save into the notebook, which has already been useful. You can also select certain notebooks to make public, or to keep on only one computer. You get 40mb of web space a month, and if you want more, you can upgrade to another which will give 500 mb.
One of the big things that kept me from using the program was there was no portable version. Or so I thought. Although there is no portable version available on Evernote’s web site, you can install a portable version once you have Evernote installed from the “application” menu. Unfortunately, the program does not install in a way that is very friendly for keydrives set up with Portableapps.com menus- it is not all contained in one folder, instead it is messily contained in several folders.
Overall, I have been really happy with Evernote. My notes seem to save even if I forget to close out Evernote properly, and the sync is quick and seamless. You can email a special address to have notes included in Evrenote (which means you can also use it with Jott or a phone that can email a picture). And I REALLY like the stand alone desktop program, which can be accessed while offline.
Taking a screenshot w/ Evernote on Linux.
A few features I would like
A native Linux version.
I’m still wary of using Evernote too much because there is not Linux desktop version. If there was, I would probably be a hard core devotee. I don’t want to be locked into something without a Linux version. I’d also like to note that a lot of people that use these kinds of programs (note taking apps) use Linux- I’d wager a mugh higher percentage than the overall population.
Running Evernote through Wine ALMOST works, but is just buggy enough to not be usable. A few of the problems:
- The capture program quits after one capture. This doesn’t happen with the older version, but it does with the new.
- Program is pretty slow overall.
- You can’t drag things into it (that’s to be expected, I guess.)
- Looks a little weird- see screenshots above.
I see two option here: either make the program so it works well through Wine (what Google did with Picasa) or create a native version. I, personally, would LOVE to see a native version.
The free version is really nice- 40 mb will save a lot of web clippings, and you can also use it to move files back and forth. But $5 a month for 500 MB seems like a bad deal- when Microsoft will give you 5 GB for free, Gmail gives you 6 gigs free, Yahoo has unlimited storage on its email, and Flickr gives you unlimited storage for $25 a year. I know the text recognition in images is supposed to be one of the big draws, but that just doesn’t seem that useful to me right now.
I think $25 a year sounds like a good deal, for maybe 2 gigs or so of storage at least. That, I would pay for. And, I would only pay if I had native Linux support, since who knows if I’ll even have a Windows computer at home in a year?
Ways to get info out.
I’d love to see native blog support in Evernote. I think Evernote would be an absolutely amazing blogging platform if they added support to save things straight to a blog. I would also love to be able to save an entire notebook into a rich text document. You can merge notes, but it would be nice to get a set of notes out into one document without merging.
What makes many programs so wonderful is the ability to use plugins to add functionality. So, for instance, if Evernote opened up their software for plugins, maybe someone could write a blogging plugin. It may not be for everyone, but some may like it. Take a look at Windows Live Writer- a proprietary program, but lots of people have added value by writing plugins.
I am keeping an eye on the evernote project and using it to take quick notes, but I’m not ready to dump my brain into it just yet. It is avery promising, though!