Thursday, January 22, 2009

Evernote welcomes Google Notebook users with import utility

As promised, Evernote has released an import tool for disappointed Google Notebook users. I’ve just tried it out, and I’m happy to report it works largely as advertised. If you've tried Ubernote’s import tool the process is basically the same: export each of your notebooks in Google’s Atom format, then import those files into Evernote.

Unlike Ubernote’s no-frills import, Evernote actually gives you some options about how you want your notes to look once they’re imported (reminiscent of their impressive Delicious import tool). You can import your notebooks into an existing Evernote notebook or create a new notebook. You can also decide whether you want to include your existing notes, labels, and section headings.

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A few times, Evernote got stuck, and I had to re-import, which resulted in some duplicate notes. But, for the most part, it was a smooth process. Once everything was imported, I wanted to see how the same notes were displayed in each service. Let’s take a look:

Here’s a publicly shared note in Google Notebook. Note the secondary comments section in light blue (one of my favorite features.

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Now, here’s the same note in my public Evernote Notebook. Notice that the tags are on top, right below the title (red arrow). The comment is preserved and separate from the text of the note, but it’s indented rather than highlighted (blue arrow).

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You’ll also notice a couple of severe drawbacks associated with Evernote’s public notebooks when compared with Google. You have to view each note in isolation by clicking on it, and you have to view ads. I prefer Google Notebook’s uncluttered blog-style view, which allows you to scroll and see notes in context with one another.

My only other complaint is that Evernote promises all imported notes “will retain their original creation date.” My imported notes all bore today’s date. It doesn’t bother me all that much, but if chronology is important to you, I recommend waiting until Evernote has corrected that problem.

Overall, I think Evernote has done a nice job with this feature, and it’s definitely a strong contender to replace Google Notebook as my app of choice. Next week, I’ll let you know why I’m withholding my full endorsement.

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