Notae

A notebook style application that I have been watching some time is a little program called Notae. Honestly, it feels a bit unfinished to me, and I currently have it on my 200 day checking schedule to see how it evolves. Instead of following the ordinary hierarchy model, everything is organised purely with tags and filters. Considering that, there could be a lot of improvement in how it handles tag searches. I would like to see heuristic tag clustering for cross-reference analysis, saved searches that can be placed into the toolbar, and the ability to assign tags to multiple notes at the very least.

However, I really like its clean, effective simplicity. For small collections of relevant documents and notes it looks like it will be an effective tool some day.

Homepage.

I was a beta tester for this, but I never enjoyed using it. I always felt like it wasn’t simple enough, in fact. All this ‘new note’ organizing and stuff—if I want medium- or long-term data storage, I’ll go to an app that’s designed for it, like DEVONthink or Eagle Filer, whatever.

If I want an app that’s for taking notes and finding them again, I’ll take Notational Velocity. Hotkey to call it, and the exact same mechanism for searching or writing a new note. Brilliant. Hasn’t been developed in a while, because it don’t need a dang thing. Plus, it’s free.

What I always loved about this app was the icon - a Moleskine notebook. Superb. (Of course, AmberV’s Scrivener icon is lovely and just what I wanted for Scrivener, but before I thought of using the yin-yang symbol to delineate an “S”, I was originally going to opt for a Moleskine notebook - but then I discovered it was already being used by Notae.)

I was going to say the same. It’s a gorgeous little icon and a really great little app too. Nice find - thanks Amber! :slight_smile:

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.

It does handle HTML. If you import an HTML file from on-disk it will become a web archive note. Also, if you use the File > New Note from URL feature, it will make a web archive note from a URL for you.

If you have any bugs or issues at all, or can elaborate on what feels rough to you, please let me know so I can work on it.

And thanks for the kind words. :slight_smile: (Referrer logs are wonderful things.)

It is still not working for me. Let’s take it up on your forum. No sense in clogging up Keith’s forum with Notae chat. :wink:

You are quite welcome. (Aren’t they though!)

Take a look at MoRU. It is precisely targeted at tapping the “interfaceless” advanced search capability of Spotlight.
windstormsoftware.com/wssw/index.html

Thanks for the link. That looks like an impressive program, and very affordable too, considering what it is capable of. I still wish there was something that let me type in basic syntax with precedence. It is so much faster to type in “x+(y|z)” than going the route of incrementing conditions and drop-downs, though in a way that looks much more refined than I typically see.

Another tool of that sort is NotLight, by Matt Neuburg. It’s free but lacks the nice interface and advanced capabilities of MoRU. Download at:

tidbits.com/matt/?@559.burebsUZAeI@

Anything by Matt Neuberg I would recommend. :slight_smile: He’s a very helpful developer, very active on the dev lists.

Here’s a newcomer on this scene with some impressive credentials (SpamSieve):

c-command.com/eaglefiler/

Tinderbox is yet another, but your mindset needs to be along the means of how it works, and might not work for you:

eastgate.com/Tinderbox/

I own a license to Tinderbox, and I love it, but the learning curve can be a bit daunting at first.

Kastorff,

Thanks heaps for the Moru link. WOW! It should be bundled with every Mac.

E

Wow. How do programs like Moru slip through the cracks?? I’ve never heard of it before. It’s the answer to a lot of frustration. Spotlight sometimes drives me crazy with its interface. Another $10 I’ll be happy to spend. Thanks!

del

About Moru, see also atpm.com/13.02/moru.shtml .

del

I’m curious to see what the folks who have tried Notae are thinking of it several months in. I’m on the fence, and a major part of my concern is the pretty dormant forum, the total absence of useful FAQs, and the lack of documentation. Also, it seems a bit buggy – the Quicknote feature sometimes just doesn’t work and the Quicksilver service never has worked at all any of the times I’ve tried it.

I do love the way it uses tags, as Amber describes above. I’m looking for a notes app that can handle the research materials for my book, a few thousand small notes, all text, most of them a sentence or two. I want to tag each with multiple tags for specific subject areas that I intend to cover, so that when I need a good quote for, say, a section on ancient funeral rites, I can find all the notes tagged for funerals, then all the ones in that group tagged for Egypt, then all the ones in that group tagged for gold, even if none of those words appear in the quote itself. Notae seems perfect for this, and so fast!

The gambling of $30 is less of an issue for me than the amount of time I might put into importing all this information, only to have the app fail me.

My questions are: Is it stable? Is there any support to speak of? Can it accommodate this many notes as opposed to the random, multimedia odds and ends that most people notebook applications for? How the heck do you back it up?

I highly recommend DevonNote. It’s fast, reliable, and versatile. The searching is so good that you don’t need tags, but if desired you may add them in the Comment windows. And at $19.95 it’s a bargain. If you later want to scale up to DT or DTP, the company offers educator discounts.

Laurum, you’ve pretty much summed up the way I feel about it. I actually stopped using it a while ago because it simply was just too erratic to trust. Half of the time, my imported webdocs would “disappear.” I could export them fine, but in the application everything was blank or did not update the display when clicked on. It also felt a bit sluggish, even with only a handful of documents in it; so I’ve moved on. I also own a copy of DEVONthink, which while I do not really like the interface philosophy, is a pretty solid application. Notae is the opposite. I love the philosophy; but it just feels to flaky to trust it with anything vital.

I’ll be watching it though.