Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Evernote release: Smartly done Delicious importing

In an email last night, Evernote announced several updates to their various platforms, including a flexible import feature for Delicious bookmarks:
You can now import your Delicious bookmarks right into Evernote. To do this, click the link above to sign in your account, then click the "Settings" link. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the Import Delicious Bookmarks, then follow the instructions. The import process will bring over links, tags (optionally), and any associated notes. Each bookmark will become an individual note. Delicious limits the number of people that can use the importer at the same time. So, if it's busy, just come back in a bit and try again.
I gave the feature a try last night, and I’m really impressed with how well Evernote has implemented this feature. I’ll take you through the screen shots.

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Evernote promises a “simple 3-step process,” and it is simple, but they give you lots of options.

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After inputting you Delicious information, Evernote allows you to decide what gets imported, and how you want it to look.
  • Import all bookmarks or filter by tag.
  • You can choose to retain tags or strip them.
  • Select a destination notebook or create a new one.
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This last step is critically important, and awesome. Evernote tells you exactly how many bookmarks it’s fetching and more importantly, they let you know how many tags you’re about to add. When I got to this step, I decided I didn’t need to add all those tags to an already crowded sidebar. Indeed, one of my criticisms of both Evernote and Google Notebook is the lack of a space-saving tag cloud option. I certainly don’t need a line for every tag. But I digress.

What do your Bookmarks look like once they’re imported?

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Well, this is still my least favorite thing about Evernote: the default view is optimized for photos and drawings rather than text. But you can switch over to list view.

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Either way, the date and time info is prominently displayed. Some people will really like this, because Delicious deprecated the timestamp feature in its recent update.

Overall, I’m extremely impressed. Evernote continues to do the little things very well, and this flexible Delicious import feature is just more of the same. As I’ve said before, I’m a fairly dedicated Google Notebook user. But Evernote is a great option for lots of people. Their approach to bookmark integration is certainly much more elegant and configurable than Google Notebook. Add that to their unbeatable sync options and superb mobile apps, and *presto* you’ve got your Delicious bookmarks on your freaking phone.

That’s pretty compelling.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Apologies for the long droughts between posts.

I will have a few substantive posts for you once power is restored to my house (as a Houstonian, I'm still coping with Ike).

But beyond my current, weather-related constraints, I have to set realistic expectations. My day job is working as a lawyer for a hospital. This means I take a lot of notes and do a ton of research. But it also means that blogging is, for me, a hobby. This is a place for me to share my web-dork inclinations with people who care about such things (shockingly, most of my pals do not share my interest in what the digerati call "social media" and "web 2.0"). 

My goal is one or two posts per week—at most. Lately, you haven't even got that from me. But I'll start up again. Soon. In the meantime, I urge you to check out a couple of places where I funnel interesting stories about web-based bookmarking and notetaking, or notemarking:
  1. I share lots of Notemarking items via a cloudnotes tag in Google Reader. That stream is updated in the sidebar of this blog, but you can also access it here.
  2. Lately, I've been using the increasingly awesome Social|Median to collect updates and blog posts from around the Web. I encourage you to join the Notemarking News Network on Social Median if you want to access a broad range of items focused on web-based bookmarking and notetaking.
Thanks for enjoying CloudNotes, and I'll return soon.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bookmarking in Google’s Chrome Browser

image After reading all the Chrome posts yesterday and today, I knew better than to expect a bunch of showy links to Google properties such as Gmail, Google Reader, or even Google.com. Indeed, Google showed admirable restraint in focusing narrowly upon enhancing the browsing experience. That meant a smooth import process that transfers all your browser settings, including your default search engine (even if it’s not Google).

Google extended their open and easy approach to Chrome’s bookmarking functionality. Chrome doesn’t link up directly with Google Bookmarks. Instead, Chrome offers a less functional version of Firefox’s bookmark engine. Chrome imports your bookmarks and browsing history from Firefox (you do use Firefox, don’t you?) and seamlessly incorporates them into Omni Bar, its version of Firefox’s Awesome Bar.

There are a few key differences from the Firefox approach. First, the Omni Bar includes search results from your default search engine. I’m not sold on this approach because the suggested auto-complete results in Omni Bar aren’t as relevant for me. Take a look at the screenshots below to see what I’m talking about.

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Gmail search in the Awesome Bar using only “gm”

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The same search in Omni Bar doesn’t get me close to Gmail.

If Chrome learned from my past searches the way Firefox does, it would automatically provide me with Gmail as the top result. This is minor, considering Chrome is a beta release, but it’s something that will need to be improved.

The second key difference is the abbreviated feature set of Chrome’s core bookmarking engine. The appearance is quite similar.

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Firefox’s bookmark dialog

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Chrome bookmark dialog

Note that unlike Firefox, there’s no way to add tags or keywords, or even edit them. You also can’t search your bookmarks outside of the Omni Bar. Again, this seems pretty forgivable since it’s a beta release. On the other hand, it does look like they lifted the bookmarking engine directly from Firefox. Why not incorporate all of Firefox’s bookmarking features?

One nice thing about Chrome’s approach is the screen you see when you open a new tab.

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The display includes both recent bookmarks and most visited sites. This is incredibly useful, but I don’t view it as a huge advantage for Chrome, because both Firefox and Internet Explorer are likely to integrate similar features in the future.

Overall, I have to admit I’m not impressed with Chrome’s bookmarking capabilities. And I’m worried that the lack of tags might indicate an unwillingness to integrate with Web-based bookmarking services, including Google’s own bookmarking product. Scott McCloud’s otherwise awesome Chrome comic book hints that Google may not be very enthusiastic about bookmarking, when your Omni Bar can locate the item much more quickly.

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That might be true. If the Omni Bar worked as well as the Firefox’s Awesome bar. It doesn’t. At least, not yet.