Boswell

I just read an nice review of an application not everyone of us will know: Boswell. It’s an application for archiving text, and just text; and it’s different from all other applications which pretend to do the same.

See atpm.com/11.08/boswell.shtml (with a very interesting comment by AmberV).

Boswell is wonderful, warts and all. :slight_smile: I rarely recommend it though, because a lot of people are put off by the price and weirdness of it. One thing that gets a lot of people is the inability to edit anything you have archived. On the surface that seems like an unnecessary restriction, but if you think of it as forced Snapshots, it really isn’t that awful. You can set the journal to auto-archive after up to a month, which is plenty of time to have something in the editable phase. After that point, it becomes a stable document that you never need fear accidentally editing or deleting. Making a new version or snapshot is the only way to edit. When I think of all the files I’ve lost over the years to over-zealous editing – wishing I had those older versions around – it makes me wish I always had Boswell around as a safety net. Version clutter isn’t really a problem either. You can place any old version into the Ignore notebook and it will never come up in searches again (unless you take it back out, of course).

So yeah, a lot of little subtle things that take some getting used to. If anyone is serious about long term text archival, take a look at it and give it a few weeks. If you need to archive formatted documents, PDFs, images, and such – forget it, it is not for you. Boswell is like Ulysses. Text Only. Some formatting (think SimpleText!) is possible, but it doesn’t export or batch import formatting.

That and everything else I said in that other comment. Ha. I was feeling wordy that day.

I never tried Boswell, so I don’t have any experience to share nor any opinion to defend. But what I read about Boswell (nice comment on Versiontracker too by a person called “signata” - is that an alter ego of yours, AmberV?), fills me with both sympathy and distrust.

I feel sympathy for Boswell because of it courage to be ‘different’, not modish, not mainstream. I feel sympathy for its being ‘text only’. I feel sympathy for its honest endeavour to serve eternity.

But I see some rather serious drawbacks too, which fill me with distrust. And I’m not talking about the price, nor about Boswell’s antiquated outlook (though the latter certainly deserves a thorough brushing up).

Firstly I’m talking about the fact that the last serious update dates back to almost two years ago, and the last minor update to more than a year ago. In the computerworld, two years are an eternity. Two years ago Jaguar was the top of the bill. That makes me doubt if Boswell in the perception of its own developers is still kicking and alive, if they still intend to give it a future, if they still intend to stand up against the competition.

Secondly: Boswell has no user forum. All my major working tools (Mellel, Bookends, DT Pro, iView Pro and now Scrivener) do have very active user forums, and developers who actively participate in the discussion. I like that a lot, and I don’t like the idea of being wholly delivered to the benevolence of some developer in a very distant country, who might and might not respond to my emails.

Thirdly: Boswell can’t handle PDF’s. That’s a very, very serious drawback for me; in fact, a deal breaker. I’m a text only guy: that is to say, I use to keep my photographs separated from my text documents. My text documents are in DT Pro; my photographs are simply inside the Pictures folder. But one of the things I really do like in DT Pro is its ability to search quickly into (text-)PDF’s, which makes it possible to establish connections between the work of others downloaded from the internet and my own books, articles and annotations. This is fundamental for me; I really couldn’t do without it anymore. For me, an archiving application which can’t do this is a thing of the past.

In conclusion: I like Boswell’s philosophy, but before giving it a serious try I first want to see it getting decidedly in tune with modern times. As it is now, for me Boswell is an application of the past, with a bright future behind it.