capsule review

NoteScribe

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder NoteScribe

Notescribe maintains a single, hierarchical, database for all your notes, with up to four levels of subcategories. Instead of having multiple files for, say, business notes and research notes, you would have two top-level categories--"Business" and "Research"--with appropriate subcategories. Individual notes do not have labels or titles. A given category may contain many notes, or none (it may be just a container for subcategories). When a category is selected, all the notes in that category are displayed, along with any previously selected notes. This allows the user to scroll through several categories of notes at once, but if the categories are large, scrolling becomes slow and finding a single note can be difficult. Fortunately, a single button click is all it takes to 'clear the field' and begin anew. In many ways, it's akin to having a stack of folders; you take out various pages and display them until your desk is covered, then you clean up and begin again.

Notescribe allows you to search your notes, either for full text or by keywords, though each type uses a different interface. You can also filter your full text search against your entire database, or against only those notes currently open. Searching is quite fast, even on a fairly large notes file; I noticed only a trivial delay.

One of the nicer features of Notescribe is the Agent, a secondary program which can be set to launch either with Windows or Notescribe (or launched manually). When it is active, pressing the specified hotkey will take any selected text and create a Note for it. This can make moving data from web pages or other documents into Notescribe easy and efficient.

As a tool for researchers, Notescribe includes several useful features. For example, it allows you to enter sources according to standard bibliographic formatting, and assign these sources to notes.

Notescribe uses a slightly non-standard interface, with a lot of Macintosh-style round-cornered rectangles, unusual progress bars, and an outline control which doesn't quite respond the way you'd expect. Nothing here is critical, but it does make the program stand out a bit and requires some slight adjustment of expectations. Nonetheless, I was easily able to learn to use it without reading documentation--but for those who don't like to do things the hard way, there is both an extensive help file and online video tutorials, a nice touch.

Notescribe can be used by anyone who has a lot of snippets of data to organize, but it is best for researchers or academics. The 30-day trial is full-featured, so there is ample time to discover if the program is for you.

--Ian Harac

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder NoteScribe

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