30 Sep 2008

For the past 2 years, I’ve been a staunch user of Yojimbo to collect all my bits and pieces, from PDF receipts to textpattern plugins and serial numbers. Having gone through a lot of notebook/organiser type apps, it was the one I really gelled with.

evernoteThe same couldn’t be said of Evernote, which I tried initially but didn’t give a second look. I’m not sure if there are new features in there, but recently I’ve been changing my mind. Part of the reason for this is the iPhone app: it becomes a way of collecting data when I’m out – voice notes, text notes and photos, which can then be synced and searched later.

I also discovered that you can publish a notebook publically, along with a wee widget for embedding this on your site. I love this idea, and my mind is reeling with possibilities:

Then there is of course it’s main selling point – OCR technology, which means it will discover text in images. The uses for this are endless, but two great examples are scanning in business cards, or capturing notes made on a whiteboard.

Finally, from an aesthetic point of view, Evernote have the design licked. The desktop app looks good, and I can even get the widescreen view that I had to hack Yojimbo to get:


There are just a few niggles that stop me from leaving Yojimbo. My biggest bugbear though is that it’s not easy to get my stuff out again. Here’s an example: Every time I buy something, the receipt is printed as a PDF to Yojimbo and tag it with ‘accounts’, the same with any invoices I get in. When it comes to my quarterly send all paperwork to the bookkeeper time, I can easily see and select all the stuff for that quarter and drag and drop from the list in Yojimbo to a mail message – done. Evernote does all this, up until the ‘drag and drop’ point. It lets you drag, but no drop happens. You can’t even export individual items, other than dragging off textclippings or images.

Moving data to Evernote was easy, due to the way Yojimbo stores and exports stuff in it’s original format – .txt, .jpg, .pdf etc. Once in Evernote however, these become part of a note. If I ever wanted to move my data to another app, I can imagine this would cause a big problem.

One of the first things I did when started using the desktop app, was to remove the ‘monthly usage’ thermometer from the toolbar. Its screams ‘RESTRICTION’ at me all the time, but I can feel more relaxed now that it’s gone:


Some other features of Yojimbo that I would miss are encryption of notes, and the way it allows you to store serial numbers and passwords. So, it’s a close run now, but Evernote is definitely a contender, and if the export/format issue could be fixed, I’ll sign up for a premium account in a flash.

Update : Turns out Evernote can export after all, although not by dragging and dropping. Select the items and press the ‘Email’ icon. If you select PDFs. they’re added as attachments to an email in their original state. Images however have an ‘evernote’ branded frame around them.

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