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The joys of web archiving

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Posted by Hugh
Aug 14, 2014 at 02:00 PM

 

What follows may or may not be of use to relative Mac newbies - but here goes.

Seven years of experience on the Mac has taught me to seek out individual applications for individual tasks, rather than the sort of “Jack-of-all-trades” software that I used focus on during the umpteen years I used a PC. Of course this approach may not be straightforward. It may not be immediately obvious what precisely are the tasks that need to be done. And because it is in the interests of those who market programmes to suggest that they are very capable of carrying out one hundred-and-one different jobs, it may also not be immediately obvious which tasks particular programmes are best at doing.

For example, when I bought my Mac I also bought a well-known programme that looked as if it could perform several of the roles I wanted covered. This was a mistake. It could not. It was a false economy. It was not even very good at the one thing it had originally been designed for. So my view evolved that, at least for the Mac, one should buy programmes that are more narrowly targeted.  On the Mac this policy of using specialist programmes for specialist tasks is helped by several characteristics of all Mac applications and the OS X operating system: for example, the “Services” menu of every application, the ease of using the computer to make tasks more straightforward via programmes such as Automator, the “Print to PDF” function every Mac programme has, and the similarities between the user-interfaces of all, or almost all, Mac applications.  In the long run, I don’t believe this policy of seeking specialist programmes for one or two major types of task each has proved to be more financially costly for me - because specialist programmes can do particular tasks better and faster than the Jack-of-all-trades generalists.

So I’ve used a variety of applications for short-form writing, most recently Ulysses and Bean - although Scrivener can do short-form too (I still keep all my business letters in it). And although Scrivener can fulfil the function of web-page collection and storage, there are several much better ways of doing this (see below), at least when the volume of data to be held increases. Scrivener’s raison-d’etre is long-form writing, that is what it has the tools for, and that is what I now chiefly use it for.

For storage/file/document management, there is as you’ve found, Yojimbo. As far as I’m concerned Yojimbo’s main weakness as a file/document manager is the absence of nested folder hierarchies. But there are several others of the same type of file/document storage manager which do use nested folders, including - as I think you mention - Together, Eaglefiler, iDocument and of course DevonThink (in its Pro Office version, the most sophisticated - and expensive - of the group). Some of these encourage their use for writing too, but other than for off-the-cuff jobs, I wouldn’t recommend them - certainly not for long days in the writing saddle.

And then there’s the Finder. On the Mac, the Finder itself is now becoming more of a rival of those file/document managers than it used to be. Now that under Mavericks, the Finder can handle tags, it has become sensible not to put files or web archives in separate “cages”, as the programmes I’ve listed above usually do, but simply keep them in the operating-system file system. (If you want to enhance the Finder’s capabilities further, TotalFinder, XtraFinder, Path Finder, Leap or Yep can be very useful add-ons.) Keeping files and folders in the Finder also makes it slightly more straightforward to export files or folders to the Cloud and/or tablets. (It’s notable that David Sparks in his ebook on going Paperless - which is worth reading for all sorts of reasons even if you’re not going paperless - also recommends “staying in” the Finder for file and document storage.) Also, as you learn more about the Mac, you’ll hear more about Hazel, a wonderful little application which can do a lot of your filing for you and save you considerable time and effort. But Hazel won’t work (yet) inside the folder systems of the document/file managers like Together and DevonThink. So far, it only works within the Finder - yet another reason to stay there.

Finally - about Curio. Curio is more or less a one-off, its closest rival perhaps being Growly Notes - but even so GN is not very close at all. (I’d hoped that OneNote for the Mac would be competition for Curio, but was sadly disappointed when OneNote was launched.) Curio can do storage, up to a point, but it is not about storage. Curio can do writing in a very limited way but it is not about writing. Curio can do mindmaps, but it is not really about mind maps. As I see it, Curio is for visualising ideas in numerous ways - in my case before the writing stage, indeed largely before the outlining stage. Although it’s a terrific tool, if you don’t have that sort of need, Curio’s (relatively high) cost may not be worth paying, for you.