Sunday, April 01, 2007

Litter Sorters: A Personal Evaluation of Mac Organizer Software

Part 6: decision

Finally, after many weeks and much research, I have made a decision on which application to purchase. As I expected, my choice is based on a compromise: none of the applications that I have tested have completely satisfied all my requirements (as stated in the first part of this series). For those of you who just want to see the final result, it is:


I must admit that when I started this exercise, I thought that my final choice would be Yojimbo, and I still think that Yojimbo is a fine product. But EagleFiler has some major advantages for me, personally. Your experience may vary, and I do urge you to examine both products carefully before making your own final decision. However, the critical factors for me were:

The EagleFiler Drop Pad is better behaved than the Yojimbo Drop Dock. The Drop Dock tends to "jam" when the laptop sleeps, the Drop Pad seems to remain responsive regardless of the laptop sleeping and waking.

EagleFiler supports sub folders. I cannot possibly over emphasize how important this is: I cannot live with everything dumped into large, coarsely sorted, buckets. For example, I require a folder called "Craft", and that folder must subdivide into crochet, beading and knitting. Tagging is needed to relate information from different folders, but I must have adequate folder granularity in the first place. If I have time next week I'll do a post on classification theory, to try and make this clearer.

While EagleFiler does not now support encryption, it is under consideration for an upcoming release. Further, on attempting to move my passwords into a laptop based application, I found that I still needed access in other situations: I don't always have my laptop with me. I shall have to continue to store password data on my Palm Pilot, or consider moving it to my Blackberry. I would still like encryption in my litter sorter app, but the requirement is less urgent than I had first thought.

And finally, the most important factor: EagleFiler uses a flat file storage structure, where Yojimbo uses an SQL database. I was always a little uneasy about having to run an additional database engine, with all the possibilities of corruption and loss. The flat file structure is easy to backup, to replicate, to reuse. And that last bit is important. Because my requirements changed.

I thought that I had my requirements pretty well worked out when I started this, but that was before I discovered Curio. I think that Curio will change the way I work, because it opens a range of possible ways of arranging data. "What does this have to do with EagleFiler?" I hear you ask. Simple: because EagleFiler is flat file, I can drag an item from the Eaglefiler "Records List" window straight into the Curio "Idea Space", and because Curio uses links to files in the underlying file system (unless you specifically tell it to import its own copy of a file), Curio references the same physical instance of the item as EagleFiler. This gives me EagleFiler as the "filing cabinet full of folders of stuff", and Curio as the work space for aggregating bits and pieces into a greater whole. It also gives me simple data exchange between the two applications, without keeping duplicate copies of documents, and wasting disk space.

For example, I can use Curio's Presentation Mode to do full screen presentations of material stored in EagleFiler, nicely laid out and with hand drawn annotations if I want (I got a Wacom Graphire4 tablet earlier in the week). And I can use Curio's Dossier function to track the what and why of a project. A Curio Dossier is a form you fill in to define a project's scope and goals. Curio has templates for various purposes, or you can create your own. Here's an example:

I shall probably have another rave about Curio at a later date. But for now, all that remains is to clean up my hard disk, purging all the applications that didn't make the cut (I think the next review will probably be about Mac uninstaller software), load all the subdirectories of "litter" into their new home, and get used to my new work flow. Oh, and license EagleFiler and Curio.

Until next time....


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