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12 Feb 2010

Main Zootool Window

The last thing I needed was more choice in apps for keeping a ‘Design Scrapbook’, but that’s what’s happened with Zootool. At first glance, it looked like just another FFFFound, Ember or Img Spark, but it turns out it’s much more than that. The developer, Bastian, told me to think of it as more of a visual Delicious. Once I got into that mindset it made more sense.

Using Lasso to round up content on the page

Organise content into packsZootool ‘lassos’ not only images, but documents (like PDFs), videos, and pages (not complete pages yet) and stores them in your ‘zoo’. Content can be organised into ‘packs’ (folders) and as you would expect, it stores the original URL, and offers fields to change the title, and add tags or a description. It also provides integration with services like Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook, along with short urls, for sharing what you’ve found.

So, rather than having favourites being stored on different sites like Delicious, Vimeo, YouTube etc, they’re all in one place. In some ways I think of it as a huffduffer for anything that isn’t audio.

What’s particularly interesting is how well it’s been engineered to act like a Mac desktop app. Double clicking or pressing space bar on the thumbnails, takes you to the detail view, just as you would expect. Multiple thumbnails can be shift-selected, and to put content into a pack, you can drag and drop it. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now, and I think it’s rather spiffing! It works so well it feels like it’s been a part of my workflow for long time.

Zootool includes an iPhone optimised view, but an app is in development

I do have a couple of concerns however. With any system that has tags, I never feel it’s worth the effort of tagging unless I can be sure that the tags are portable in some way. I can download a bookmark file from Zootool (with delicious tags), but should the service ever go down, all that data and effort is lost. This is where desktop apps like Leap that support OpenMeta win. I feel this especially in tools like Evernote and Littlesnapper – is it really worth tagging if I then change system in a few months? The answer is no – I’m tagging less and less for this very reason.

It also exists online only. Part of what I love about Evernote (which isn’t really a comparable service BTW), is that it’s everywhere, even when I don’t have a connection. However, Zootool still has a place in my life, even if it isn’t used as a design scrapbook.

If you haven’t tried Zootool yet, I recommend you give it at least a few minutes of your life. While you’re there, here’s my zoo

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