In our profession, there is a constant need to take quick notes. Ideally, there'd by a way that is (1) quick to load, (2) flexible, (3) searchable, (4) different information formats (pictures, outlines, tables, paragraphs), and (5) low maintenance. I've played around with several techniques:
- Using Notepad files on my desktop
- PRO: very quick to load and make edits
- CON: very little formatting (outlines & tables), no image support, not scalable
- MS Word
- PRO: Lots of formatting ability
- CON: To bulky, html is bad
- PRO: Lightweight, friendly HTML that can easily be used on the web, easy hyperlink to other pages
- CON: Each resource (like an image) is its own external object - not embedded as a single file.
- PRO: Decent for formal images
- CON: Designed mainly for diagrams and modeling, not for note taking
- PRO: Optimized for easy entry and search-ability
- CON: Entered with plain-text formatting limits your options
- Custom Tools - I've looked at SourceForge's Freemind, and tried to build some things myself
Also, all of these are funneled to a specific purpose designed to make formal documents, not informal note taking. Enter Microsoft OneNote - a desktop app designed explicty for note taking. Some benefits:
- Quick start up (it can run in the tool tray)
- Draw with a pen to scribble any diagram
- Automatic outlines
- Can just copy in images
- Auto-saves everything
- Can just start writing anywhere on the page.
It looks like it has a lot of potential, and provides a decively different niche than other office products (Word, FrontPage, Visio, or Excel) that may be used for the same task. I'll curious to check it out more.