Well, if you haven’t heard it from here or dugg it from here, Google has released a new application called ‘Google Notebook.’ Being the Google Fan Boy I am, I headed on over and installed it (you can find it here. These are my initial reactions to my experience.
First off, I like the clean interface at http://www.google.com/notebook. Then again, I’m an engineer and I appreciate simplicity over pretty icons. Adding a new note is absolute cake from the main site or from the extension/plug-in. It works pretty much just like they said. Highlight, click, you’re done. Something cool I found was that not only could I right click and image and have it posted to Google Notepad, but I could also drag and drop images off the page into the little Notebook editing box in my browser. From the backend, everything seems to be a link (which is easily editable and VERIFIABLE!!! with the hover over menu) so that means you aren’t taking up in space storing pictures or something like that. This brings up and interesting point, there’s nothing that mentions how much space you get. A lot of people are calling for the ability to store pdf, sounds, etc in their notebook. I don’t know if this will come about or not due to the possible legal issues it would cause, but it might be kind of nifty. Back to the interface. The extension doesn’t allow you to move things around like the web interface; however, when you get to the web interface, moving things around is simple drag and drop. It’s also the same way for moving things from one notebook to another. Yep, you can have as many (probably) notebooks as you want just like the calendars in Google Calendar. I’ve not found anything that allows you to add a friend’s notebook yet, but that might be down the road a little further.
Unfortunately, full functionality of the search engine won’t be enable for a few days; however, you can still search though your own notebooks to find items. As with all Google’s searching, it’s fast and accurate; however, there is one minor draw back. When you search for something, the links it provides take you to the notebook, not the item itself. Users of del.icio.us would find this just as annoying as I do as well as missing their tag information. While you can still “tag” something in Google Notebook (words with spaces in the note), it’s really focused more on allowing you to use the search capabilities more than anything. Just seemed a little odd due to Google doing such and excellent job with their labels (a.k.a., tags) in Gmail.
Overall, I really like Google Notebook; however, as an engineer, I live by the motto “If it ain’t broke, it needs more features!” So here’s my short wish list, though I’m sure it will probably grow the more I play with it.
- Change the way multiple notebooks work
I think that multiple notebooks should work more like labels in Gmail than as separate entities like GCal. Add in a “Default tag” option, and now you have the ability to cut down on the storage space of the notes and quick publishing of the notes from public to private without the need to post the link in two different areas. This would also be good if there were a way to collaborate on notebooks so you could share with some peers and not with others.
- Improved Searching
Google’s bread and butter is advertising, but they got their by their ability to produce accurate and highly accessible search results. Well, they got the accurate portion right, but not the accessible with Google Notebook. If you search for something and you click on it, you expect it to take you to what you were looking for or to open it some fashion. You do not expect the search result to take you to a place where 100 other items are and have it buried halfway down the list. I know this has got to be a quick fix.
- Improved Organization
One of the disadvantages I saw right away with Google Notebook was that everything is initially stored in the same order you added it. Normally, this would be problem since you can use their search to find what you are looking for; however, when you have to rely on a secondary search like Firefox’s to take you 3/4 down the page and through 50 items that matched your term, that’s not cool. So if we can’t get our search feature fixed, something like a “Most Frequently Used” tab or the Gmail Starring system might be in order.
Have you played with Google Notebook? If so, let me know what you thought of it and if you think there’s anything cool to add to it. And as per usual, the forums are always a good place to start if you’re having issues.