Brain Fit: Springpad, an Alternative to Evernote
The goal of all software engineering is to make sure that the program (or app) is both powerful and intuitive to use. It's the intuitive part that is the trickier of the two. Almost without exception, I can entirely skip instruction manuals or video training with a new piece of software. I just jump in and, if it is engineered well, I can plow ahead immediately becoming productive. Typically, I will go back and do some video training (my favorite is lynda.com) just to be sure I haven't missed some of the more subtle points, shortcuts, and power-user features.
There are, however, exceptions. Sometimes the way the software engineer thinks is so different than the way I think that I find myself continually frustrated, constantly making mistakes, clicking the wrong buttons, and spending far more time fiddling around trying to make it work rather than being truly productive. A case in point is Evernote. Over the years I've tried over and over again to integrate this software into my routine. I recently tried again because of its ability to allow me access to quick notes no matter what device I happen to be using at the moment. Notes made on my computer are visible on my phone; notes made on my Android tablets are visible on my computer, etc. It's a cloud-based service whose popularity is a testament to its usefulness. It clearly dominates this little corner of the software world.
Nonetheless, I simply cannot wrap my brain around it's confusing interface, button layouts, and counterintuitive operations. Because the software is so popular, I always assume that my frustrations are based in my own limitations. I look at it again and try bending my way of working to its logic. I just can't do it. It could be that its Mac roots simply don't fit with my Windows-oriented brain. It's frustrating because I love the concept and need the functionality.
Fortunately, I've found an alternative that works the way I think. Springpad is an Evernote competitor whose functionality fits my brain. It, too, is a cloud-based, device-agnostic, quick note application. There are Springpad apps for every device I own, and its browser implementation is terrific. I never have to think about how it works because my brain fits it's functionality perfectly. Productivity reigns and frustration is gone.
Being somewhat newer than Evernote, however, Springpad is not quite as sophisticated — yet — so it is missing a few features that I have confidence they will add. For example, Springpad does not allow me to create text formatting in its Android apps — although it does allow formatting when you access your notes via your computer's browser. Curiously enough, formatted text is still formatted in notes I read on my Android apps, I just can't create formatting there. Clearly this is something they are building toward. For me, this is not a deal breaker for an app I use primarily to make quick notes. Serious formatting and document polishing I would always do in more powerful software.
Springpad does not yet have an audio note function, but here again I have other applications for making audio notes. I never used that feature in Evernote, so I don't miss it in Springpad.
What Springpad does have is a multiple notebook paradigm, classification tagging, list checkboxes, the ability to attach multiple files to a note, reordering and sequencing alternatives, list or badge display options, cross-notebook searching and viewing as well as moving notes from one notebook to another, alarms, a trash bin for recovering deleted notes, a slick Foxfire add-on for making notes from web pages, and a few other tricks even Evernote does not have. Springpad includes a social networking module (I don't use) and a neat little feature that allows you to keep track of product links while you shop (very interesting and unique).
If you find Evernote a slightly mind bending application, you might want to check out Springpad as an alternative. There website is www.springpadit.com.