Sunday, May 1, 2011


I recently found out that OneNote has the ability to make wiki-links. Just as in ConnectedText and other Wiki applications, enclosing a word or phrase in double square brackets, like [[First page]], will link to an existing page with that name or allow you to create that page.[1]

I tried out OneNote 2010 for this reason. It looks slick and it does wiki-links well. But it feels like an unfinished or crippled application. You cannot:
  • Import text or rtf files
  • Export to rtf
  • Search and Replace
—at least not natively.

There are "Powertoys" available that allow a primitive import of text files and primitive Search and Replace. You can "send" a document to MS-Word (and thus sort of export rtf). But all of this is highly inconvenient.

Add to this that OneNote cannot
  • do automatic footnotes
and I have no desire to explore it any further. You cannot get accumulated information into the program (in an adequate way), you cannot get information out (in an adequate way), you cannot transform the information you manage to import (in an adequate way).

This makes it an inadequate application—at least from my perspective. I might have been tempted, if I was just starting out with electronic note-taking, but it does not measure up to ConnectedText (nor even to other note-taking applications available for Windows). It is itself a "Powertoy," i.e. not suitable for serious note-taking spanning decades.[2]

1. I would be amiss, if I did not mention one other feature I liked. The Ribbon is mercifully out of the way. Apparently, Microsoft listened to complaints: "in order to conserve space, we decided to ship OneNote 2010 with the ribbon collapsed."

2. I have used ConnectedText now for almost six years. It is much more capable than OneNote 2010 (and it keeps getting better). The markdown-like wiki markup has become second nature. I consider it another advantage.


Miles said...


I've been reading your posts here and on the Outliner Software forum for years and always look forward to your insight.

In regards to CT vs. ON, I've used ON for many years and it keeps getting better, ON 2010 being the capstone release - a very Un-Microsoft like product if ever there was one. Almost everything of mine goes into ON, since it's so easy to move data into it, easy to organize it, extremely easy to retrieve it through a brilliant search mechanism and it's reasonably good at organizing.

I use CT for very specific projects, mainly because the $Ask, $PR, := (attributes), $Summary and other aggregating commands, bring together data from other places in a way that ON can't. When CT does this, it's really terrific, almost mind-blowing in a way that I never found with...Lotus Agenda, Zoot...ON as a wiki is a really stretch, even if they've introduced [[]] the double bracket concept.

But separate of the advantages and disadvantages of ON vs. CT, ON wins hands down in moving data from a single computer to other sources, including other computers, the web and smart phones.

Again, in a way that is very Un-Microsoft, ON allows a user to sync Notebooks across computers using MSFT's service, but also - ingeniously - allows a user to create a notebook on a password-protected USB drive, copies that data to a cache file on the internal computer hard drive, any changes are automatically sync'd back to the USB drive. Pull out the USB drive and plug it into another computer and all of the adjusted data syncs to the cache of the 2nd (and 3rd, 4th...) computer.

So: it's blazing fast, using cache; it's not on the could - it's on a USB drive; and it syncs across as many computers as possible. Thus, syncing without the cloud.

This means that a user can have less sensitive data sync through the cloud while keeping sensitive data out of the cloud.

I find this the perfect solution, esp. vs. Evernote, which focuses on the cloud, let's you create a Notebook locally but it stays local to that computer. question: how does the difficulty of moving CT data from a single computer to others (USB is not a good solution, I paid for the USB version and found it crazy slow)impact your decision to use CT for so much of your data?

Thanks again for your thoughtful posts.


MK said...

I use SyncBackSE to synchronize the projects on my home, office and netbook computers (used the freeware version before). It's become second nature.

You can also store projects in DropBox, but I don't anymore.

For a while I used MS Livesync, but I abandoned that as well. but it syncs ConnectedText Projects as well as OneNote files. I cannot say whether it does so quite as fast, as I have never tried to sync my (one and only) OneNote file.

In any case, I now have a copy of OneNote (my university has a site license for MS-Office) and I have played with it some more. But I do not find it that useful for my purposes.

The difference between OneNote and ConnectedText seems to me almost like the difference between Word Perfect and MS Word in the "olden days." I could never get used to Word Perfect because I had gotten habituated to MS-Word early on. It's somewhat subjective, in other words.

I rarely run ConnectedText on a USB stick, though I have a USB license. One thing that makes a big difference is the kind of USB stick you use. Some are much faster than others. A Verbatim 16GB worked well for me for a long time, but I now use a USB 3 Supertalent 32 GB.