Adam Knight just released a fairly significant update to Notae. I have been on the fence about this one, but I think I might go ahead and purchase it now. The main improvement is tag handling. Before, it suffered from the same woe that all Mac software does when concerning tags, at least the ones I’ve seen: You can only really search for one at a time. I have a feeling this is largely due to Apple’s horrific mistake in never coming up with a good Boolean interface for searching. It is Spotlights biggest weakness, and that weakness seems to trickle down to every application that has some sort of internal search built in to it. The syntax is actually there, but it is incredibly arcane, and requires hacking Smart Folder XML files to even use it. Hopefully this is addressed with Leopard, but in the meantime software developers have had to come up with their own search systems, or just forgo the whole idea altogether.
Notae gets around it using a interesting combination of familiar interface applied to a new concept. Instead of creating a palette with a host of AND/OR flags and incremental conditions (blegh), it uses a simple column based search that expands right into the main interface. Clicking on a tag in the first column reveals all tags which match the Boolean AND, and so forth. As you click on descending tags, the browser list is minimised to only notes which match the combination of tags chosen. Now, this still does not address complex Boolean, such as “(Software+Reviews)-VersionTracker”, but it is a big step ahead, especially for me since my usage of tags rarely requires complex Boolean. The addition of this tag browser increases the capacity of the application for me. Before, I felt it would be nice to store small collections of files due to its single-list philosophy and weak searching. With stronger searching, I feel it can handle a lot more data. This is increased by its ability to open multiple notebooks simultaneously, something that many similar applications do not offer.
The next significant upgrade is the ability to import webarchive and PDF files. This expands the use of Notae into an efficient document collector, rather than just a notebook. I still wish it could handle regular HTML. Not being a Safari user, generating webarchive files is a pain.
There are a lot of positive interface tweaks. One thing I really appreciate about the interface is that is exhaustively hooked in to the keyboard. I think every single command in the font menu has a keyboard shortcut, and ever part of the interface can be reached with keyboard commands. I like that.
It is still very much a minimalist notepad, and I appreciate that too. I never had the feeling that cruxdestruct had where it was not minimalist enough. Perhaps it is because I do not feel compelled to add meta-data immediately. For me, minimalism extends into the UI heavily. If I can rapidly and efficiently find/add/remove data, then I am happy. Simply removing reliance on the mouse is a minimalist gesture, in my opinion. It requires less mental activity for me to tab into the interface, as opposed to clicking into the interface.
The largest thing that it is currently lacking is a way to link documents textually. I am not a huge fan of doing this though, since these solutions are rarely portable, and my usage of Notae would be highly portable.
Notae remains, and perhaps becomes, a suitable light-weight document collection side-car for Scrivener for those who do not need the overhead of some of the more weighty and expensive applications on the market.
Anyway, the price has been boosted, but there is a 50% coupon available for the rest of the day. So I have a few more hours to make up my mind. There are still some lingering bugs and performance issues that give me pause. Even considering the slightly rough edges, $15USD is not a bad price for what Notae has evolved into.