Thumbing around the Android market, the Evernote app caught my eye again. So I decided why not give it a go, it’s probably the best note taking app for Android (and I admit, it probably is). Thus I installed the app, created an account, and went about setting up the Windows app for my desktop.
Last time I went searching for a note taking app, I settled on the Viki plugin for vim. I probably entertained a several dozen stuff, including Evernote. It never made it past the information gathering phase, since it lacks support for Linux and *BSD. Having adapted an ASUS Transformer as my primary system, Android support is now good enough. Evernote AFAIK is widely used and reasonably respected in the business of note taking software. No wonder—it’s about as useful as a notebook and a pencil.
I am not your “Joe” note taker, that I will admit. My notes are frequently pre-processed data. Things where re-parsing it back into my head and bringing order to notes is fairly important.
The desktop application failed glaringly as less than ideal support for:
- Concept of sectioning is limited to font size/style and horizontal rules.
- Structure is limited to indentation, bulleted lists, numbered lists, and tables.
- Cross referencing data is primitive but effective.
- Support for “Snippets” of formatted content is limited.
- as in sample commands.
- log data and program outputs
- definition lists.
The Android tablet application despite the awesome user interface, suffers from all of the same plus the following gotcha’s when editing text notes:
- Indentation is gone.
- Adding links is gone.
- Font styling is gone.
- Adding tables is gone.
- It’s to dismal a prospect to test how links, indents, font styles, and tables render when viewed in the app.
Simply put, ever note is more primitive a note taking system than Microsoft Word, and it’s only advantage of adding something like Dropbox or Google Docs to that mixture, is the sync feature. In fact this blog editor is much more powerful than Evernote, even more so because it can take raw HTML.
For a stress test to evaluate if I could tolerate life with Evernote, I tried to reformat one of my notes files from Viki by copy/pasting the content and adjusting. The note consists of numerous sections/subsections (at least up to 3 deep) and various lists, links, and pre-formatted data; nothing you can’t do in raw HTML, LaTeX, etc. Or even plain text if you roll your own conventions as per org-mode or deplate.
After about 80% of the file, I just gave up as it came to my mind that “Evernote is about as sophisticated as using a notebook of paper and a pencil, so why don’t I use that?”—It is just so far underpowered that I would get more value out of notepad.
Some could say that I’m being too strict, but hey, I am strict when it comes to software that I will spend *excessive* amounts of time using. If I really wanted to nit pick, I would mention the lack of folding, not that I expected that from an app focused on “Notes”.