Saturday, September 30, 2006

Notepad for the web

I like the concept of Google Notebook.

Some suggestions/ideas:

I think the user would need a strong motivation to move from the standard Windows Notepad to Google Notebook. Let's take up some of the motivating features:

Web availability - Ofcourse. The 'anywhere' access of Google Notebook is definitely a plus. But in that case, we would want to keep the performance (loading speed, for example) as close as possible to a local machine access.(Right now, its pretty decent)

Simplicity - Why do people still use Notepads when we have advanced Word Processors available everywhere? Simplicity is the key. Most of the times people just want to note down simple text, when they dont worry about formatting, designs etc. Also, they dont really want to have cluttery interfaces with lots of options. Google Notebook does a pretty good job at that right now.(as long as it keeps it simple)

Snapshots - I have tried saving some HTML pages and have seen that they have not come properly in the notebook. One, Google Notebook can always try to keep it as close as possible to the real page (by tweaking the HTML a little bit so that it fits the same way in the NoteBook). Two, optionally, we may also give the user a choice of saving a 'snapshot' of the page. The user may just want to read the information sometime and not copy it from notebook - In those cases, snapshots will be really helpful, as it will store the page 'as-is'.
(Also storing the webpages as clips in the notebook would be a definite plus over the standard Notepad)

Keyboard Shortcuts - Right clicking and selecting 'Note this' looks like a lot of work sometimes(if we are saving lots of notes). How about giving a shortcut to the user for that? (like we have keyboard shortcuts in gmail). For e.g Press Cntrl-C would paste the data to the windows clipboard but pressing Cntrl-C-C will send it to the Google Notebook!

Tagging - I like the way notes are organized in the Google Notebook. How about adding tags (titles) to them so that the user can identify what the note is about (It might not be a mandatory requirement). Also, if the user doesnt specify tags, all that the notebook shows is the first few lines (which might not be very helpful in case of HTML pages). How about popping up a small window on top right showing the contents of the note. (I have noticed the arrows on the right for collapsing/expanding but I guess hovering-and-popping will be more convenient to a user. (But if it affects performance, probably thats the last thing we want to do))

Others - There can be many other fancy features which can be added like - converting to text files, adding formatting etc. but I guess the top word here is again 'Performace'. We need to balance the performance with each feature that's added or the entire idea of 'notebook' might get lost.

- Anupam