Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tomboy and Windows

Zim is not the only Unix desktop wiki that can be run in Windows today. Tomboy is another one. The instructions for installing Tomboy for Windows are here.

You need first to install Novell's gtk-sharp 2.12.8 or newer, but it's really a cinch.

Not that it's worth it. It's true: "Tomboy is a desktop note-taking application for Linux and Unix. Simple and easy to use, but with potential to help you organize the ideas and information you deal with every day." It now also works in Windows. But that's about it. The search features are rather underdeveloped, and there are no categories or anything else worth speaking of. It does not do anything that ConnectedText or even Zulupad can't do just as well. I will probably delete it just as quickly as I did Zim.

But here is a picture, anyway:


cian said...

I like the interface, where you have different pages in different windows. It would be nice if ConnectedText had that feature.

BTW, thank you for introducing me to ConnectedText. It is an absolutely fantastic application with a somewhat steep learning curve, and it was your blog that persuaded me to persevere.

Sandy said...

Thanks for trying Tomboy on Windows, glad the install was easy. This is the first time we've supported Windows, and we still have work to do. :-) Here are a few responses though:

"no categories" -> Tomboy has notebooks

"search features underdeveloped" -> What are you missing? You can search full text super-quickly, sort by date or relevance, and of course narrow down by notebooks (category). What would you like to search on that isn't provided?

"or anything else worth speaking of" -> Well, I'm not sure what you're looking for, but Tomboy *is* supposed to be a bit simple. Tomboy is a nice little editor for you notes, and the best feature is the ability to easily and *automatically* link your notes together (when you type text that is the title to one of your notes, it links automatically). You can also synchronize your notes between different computers (Linux, Windows, or Mac). It's pretty extensible and there are some popular plugins out there to do things like encrypt your notes or use LaTeX.

Your various ConnectedText links are dead right now so I can't compare the two. Certainly Tomboy is new to Windows, so it has a lot to learn from its new competitors. Hopefully the ConnectedText site will come back up so I can see what's so great about it. :-)

MK said...

I agree that it would be nice, if CT had multiple windows, and this request has actually been made others on the forum before.

thanks for the response. You are right: Tomboy is what it is, and not some other thing. Perhaps it is unfair to compare it to a program that aims at more than simple note-keeping. That being said, what I miss is the ability to do searches with Boolean operators (like "and," "or," "not," "near." that's why I gave up on Notebook in 2004. I see the folders, but I am thinking more of categories that don't force me to place an item in just one "container." I guess one way of putting this would be to say that I look at them more like "tags."

I do think that Tomboy does what it promises, and that it is a good application for someone who does not anticipate to end up with 1000, 5000, or 20,000 notes. But I belong into that category.

(I am not sure what you mean about the Connectedtext site not being "up.")


Sandy said...

MK, apparently the ConnectedText website is working again! Looks like a pretty cool app, but definitely in a different category of information management tools than Tomboy, which is meant to be a sort of "run in the background and forget about it" app.

Thanks for the feedback, though. We actually do support tags in our API, but since Tomboy is entirely text-based, we found that there was little to be gained by tagging when search worked so well. We found that our users really wanted a more category-like approach, so that's why we developed Notebooks (scrapping the tagging UI we had developed). I can see how in a more complex app like ConnectedText, tagging would be beneficial.

Tomboy users tend to have hundreds or thousands of notes, but strangely we don't really hear any complaints about our UI concept not scaling (what doesn't scale are some of our features that slow down with large note collections, but those are bugs that should not be hard to fix).

Anyway, always fun to learn about a new cool tool! I'll have to try out ConnectedText and see if any of its concepts make sense for us.