Looking at Yojimbo

Recently I gave some thoughts on Evernote. The review of Evernote was really prompted when I looked at Yojimbo and started wondering why I used Evernote instead. The first and obvious reason I’ll get out of the way now, I was on Windows and Yojimbo is OS X only so until recently I didn’t have a choice really. Now that I have a choice lets look at Yojimbo.

What is Yojimbo

Since I’ve compared it to Evernote above you have at least an inkling of what Yojimbo is, it’s a bit like Evernote but only for OS X. As Shawn Blanc puts it:

…apps like Yojimbo are not where you should keep everything, but rather, where you can throw anything. They are not replacements for the Finder – nor the opposite – you should use them both

Yojimbo is built by a veteran OS X development shop that has also brought us BBEdit and TextWrangler. I’ve never used BBEdit but for a long time I used TextWrangler and it is one awesome piece of free software. Bare Bones knows how to build quality software so we know going into Yojimbo they’ve put some thought into the software.

What Rocks

The biggest feature I need in an application like Yojimbo is saving web pages for offline reading. Yojimbo does this in a few ways. First you can copy the URL to your clipboard the press F8 and Yojimbo’s quick input panel will show up and recognize you have a URL in the clipboard. Then you can tag it and Yojimbo will save it as a web archive (depending on your preference settings). You can also click the ‘Archive in Yojimbo’ bookmarklet or use the ‘dropdock’ for Yojimbo and get the same things.

Yojimbo quick input panel
Yojimbo quick input panel

Since we just mentioned the dropdock lets dig a bit further. The Yojimbo dropdock sits on the right side of your screen (default placement anyway) and lets you#&133;lets you drop things on it. When you drop URL’s on it, it will auto tag them and save them as either a bookmark or a web archive (depending on your preference settings). This just saves you time in tagging and I love saving time.

Yojimbo drop dock
Yojimbo drop dock

As I said above Bare Bones does Mac software and they know their stuff. Yojimbo is integrated into the native OS X service menu. If the operating system provides ways for you to do something I’m a firm believer that you should do it, even if you have some funky way that is better, just do them both.

As I surf and save things for reading later there really does need to be some form of organization so that I can find all the things relating to a particular subject. A great example is movies I want to watch. When I find a new movie I want to watch I just tag it as ‘rent movie’ which dumps it into the ‘Movie Rental’ smart folder. When I want to rent a new movie I can just flip through the ones I’ve noted before and pick a few that might be in. This could also extend for project research and a myriad of other items.

What Sucks

Yojimbo lets you do two things with URL’s 1. save them as a bookmark 2. save it as a web archive for offline reading. Unfortunately if you save an item as one by accident it doesn’t seem that you can convert it to the other. The default is to save it as a bookmark and I didn’t realize that till I had saved a few items and then wanted to convert them. Now of course I didn’t loose the info but I had to go back to all the pages and save them as web archives instead of being able to convert them. Just a bit of a PITA.

Yojimbo Preferences
Yojimbo Preferences

Going the next step on web archives it’s sometimes difficult to save a web archive of a page that has password protected content. A prime example of this would be a forum of which you are a member. You are allowed to view the content but Yojimbo may not be able to create a web archive of it. Evernote doesn’t seem to have any trouble with this. There are some work arounds like saving the page to pdf, saving it as an archive in Safari and importing to Yojimbo but these both seem a bit hacky. It should just work, at least that’s my opinion.

I firmly believe that having a web app only or a desktop app only is most often a broken app. I firmly believe that in the space Yojimbo is filling this is the truth. Yojimbo does interface with MobileMe out of the box and while this is good I’d like to see wider support for syncing and backup. First off MobileMe isn’t free at all so you have to fork out more cash after purchasing an application to really ensure your data is transportable. I’ve seen some technical people suggest using rsync or a symlink to get other sync option working but that’s not really a great solution. I’d like to see Yojimbo operate with Dropbox (which I think should be standard for apps now). Now I know Dropbox isn’t free totally unless you stay under the initial cap but at least it has a free portion.

One of the final big sucks in Yojimbo is that the software is available for OS X only. Now this doesn’t really affect me since I work on a Mac all the time but for many people this will be a total deal breaker. If you need a robust note taking app with tagging, images…and that works on Windows then Evernote is the option for you.

A little issue I have with Yojimbo is that it doesn’t ‘officially’ support Chrome (my browser of choice). It’s easy enough to just drag the bookmarklet from Safari to Chrome and it works but it’s pretty trivial to add the documentation officially to Chrome.

I suppose my last little gripe on Yojimbo is that it offers you the opportunity to save passwords and software licences and I don’t really think that this is the best spot to do it (1Password is for this). I guess that’s not really how Yojimbo fails as much as how it tries to reach a bit outside of what it’s core competency and comes up short. If Yojimbo really wanted to include passwords then it should integrate with the browser like 1Password and it doesn’t so just skip it for saving passwords.

Yojimbo or Evernote

So at the end of this review will I be using Evernote (free) or Yojimbo (paid)? Since I’m already a MobileMe subscriber I don’t really have to worry about the sync of Yojimbo which takes one of the issues out of the equation. I will be using Yojimbo since I feel the UI is nicer, it’s easier to use and integrates with my the OS more seamlessly.

As I said above if you’re a Windows user then you can’t use Yojimbo and Evernote is really the only option I’m aware of that compares.

More on Yojimbo

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