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Why no love for MyBase? My early review:

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Posted by nathanb
Jul 9, 2018 at 04:46 PM

 

I’ve been evaluating the robust Windows knowledge bases (MyInfo, UltraRecall, IQ, MyBase) and MyBase is the one I keep paying more attention to.  I like it so much that I’m now wondering what I’m missing because it gets very little regard from this forum and from the many review sites compared to the others.  It’s been around a long time so I find the lack of independent opinion about it within these circles concerning.  Maybe it has improved a lot the last couple years after many had dismissed it?  It’s even on the three big OS’s (Mac Windows, Linux) which makes me even more confused by the inattention.

Here’s the features it has that I wish MyInfo would do:
-Nested tags/labels.  This is a fairly rare feature across all outliners but MB does it well and has a really nice filter drill down when navigating via the tag/label tree.
-Two-way links (backlinks).  These aren’t ‘inline’....in fact, does ANYONE do inline backlinks? Separate discussion.  In MB they are part of the note/item metadata. This is made even more useful by a ‘list all related items’ search window that lists all the items that are directly linked to the selected item AND items that are not linked to THIS item but linked to the items it is linked to. 

It ALSO does cloning/transclusion like the other mentioned solutions.  I have yet to put a lot of content in it but the trifecta of backlinks, nested tagging, and item cloning brings together the best things about an outliner (structure and a sense of place) and a wiki (discovering and building upon unhierarchical info relationships). 

It even now has a markdown option, which shows that it is ‘currently developed’ enough to be trendy (fairly big update April this year).  As I am trying to learn the interface, I’m discovering a lot of customization like the ability to assign most functions to a hotkey (like inline time-stamps that I’m used to with OneNote).  That feature alone helps get around a lot of interface clunkiness.  It’s GUI seems slightly less intuitive than UR/MI but more approachable than IQ.

Major features it lacks compared to the others:
-No custom metadata on items (like MI, UR and IQ do) which makes it more limited as a home for structured info like invoices and a book reference database.
-Can’t open several windows of notes or pull ‘floating windows’ out of the main…uh…window.  Though it can pop out a page in html so you can at least have a read-only side reference.  I haven’t experimented with running two instances of MB as a workaround (I do that with OneNote all the time).
-No ‘map’ view of pages and relationships like ConnectedText and IQ.  Of course MI and UR don’t do this either.  Though MB will export a mindmap, which is neat but odd that there is no mind-map view within MB.

The only decent review I’ve seen on this is from the great Paul J Miller https://pauljmiller.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/144/  and his main complaint was lack of universal linking ...“The failure to be able to link things together is the most significant problem with this program, if this program did support universal links (supporting universal links into a database would automatically give it the ability to link to a note in a different database) then it would be the most awesome note taking program around and would blow away the competition.”

I think Paul was reviewing version 6, it’s now on 7.1 and has added the intra-database linking but made no progress on Universal Linking.  And by intra-database linking mean dumb one-way hyperlinks.  Which I’m pretty sure is par for the course of any other info manager when linking between databases.  Though outside universal linking (where a hyperlink anywhere else in the OS opens the target note within MB) is no longer something I care about.  I’m always switching between at least two PC’s, so having to keep absolute paths between environments is a pain.  Also my reference files are a combination of NAS, cloud, and local.  Also my other referring and referred-to applications are a mix of installed/cloud and I CRIMP enough with those that I don’t want to be tied down by needing hard links to always work between them on all my screens.  My workaround is to create ‘Universal Links’ with Zettelkasten-like codes, which are simply unique text string identifiers that ‘link’ two or more things between disparate systems.  Yes I understand that’s not how Zettel systems work, I’m just borrowing the searchable-code-IS-the-link concept. All my codes start with Z, so my ONE unbreakable rule is if I see Z##### anywhere in my stuff, to DON’T CHANGE OR DELETE IT because it has a long lost brother somewhere buried in one of my piles of data hell. Pretty old school but I’ve been doing it for over a year now and it’s surprisingly robust. Now I am free to swap out my task manager, re-arrange/move files, etc with any other component without worrying about breaking outgoing or incoming links because they are simply unique text strings. The extra step of searching for them instead of a simple click (and prayer that the link isn’t yet broken) is well worth the freedom.

Paul’s other concern was a major slowdown after the database went over 300mb.  With version 7, MB probably fixed that by upgrading the database (like what Petko has apparently done with the MyInfo 7.0 beta).  But I haven’t done a ‘load test’ to find out.

I was concerned that I couldn’t copy and paste content from OneNote into MB, as simple text or tables would end up as a graphic that I couldn’t edit.  The same content pasted into MyInfo/IQ just fine.  But then I discovered MB’s ‘clipboard monitor’ tool, which you turn on before doing an outside copy.  Upon a detected ‘copy’, it opens a dialogue window asking how you want it to handle the content, and through that I was able to drop the OneNote content in just fine.  So yeah it’s not quite as smooth as MyInfo but it seems to offer more customization if you are wrestling with getting a webpage or something in there correctly.  That’s a recurring theme with MB.  It’s feature set is very large, with many extra plugins, but not always intuitive or smooth.

So it doesn’t seem to be quite as good as UR and MI as being a desktop sidekick to other desktop programs.  Particularly Outlook.  I do a LOT of dragging and dropping Outlook messages into OneNote.  Ok upon further quick testing neither MI or UR will do this either…. So to ‘embed’ email reference outside of OneNote means an intermediary save-as/export option from Outlook.  Now I’m real temped to keep using OneNote as a project reference attachments Mule and just Universal Link to that page…

But, while not playing as nicely with others in real-time, MB does have a large array import/export options (like it will import Outlook stuff, which I don’t care about since I see no value in a one-time snapshot from Outlook…unless I was ‘archiving’ a project I suppose).  It seems to be heavily focused on file/directory management and might make a killer front-end to a reference directory.  It even has ‘duplicate file report’ and ‘compare folders’ utilities in addition to the usual ‘import file structure and create links’ stuff that other applications commonly have.

It seems very stable.  I’m running a ‘portable version’ on my work pc and haven’t seen it stumble, whereas a portable MyInfo installation has been less consistent.

So at this point I have to wonder what I’m missing here.  Why hasn’t MyBase been mentioned as part of the age-old MyInfo vs UltraRecall discussion?

 


Posted by tightbeam
Jul 9, 2018 at 04:58 PM

 

One reason, maybe: MyBase development proceeds at a glacial pace and the developer doesn’t allow beta testers to talk about their experiences with the new features. The last update to version 6 was released nearly a year ago, and it’s been a couple of years since the private beta for version 7 began. So there isn’t a whole lot to discuss, and as a result the software (it’s very good software!) might get overlooked when people are making comparisons.

 


Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Jul 9, 2018 at 05:14 PM

 

Thank you for your in-depth review.

I was an early adopter of MyBase almost 20 years ago, but I didn’t like it because—at least back then—it was a modular program. You bought the basic application, but then had to pay extra to get add ons. Not only that, I found the add ons didn’t always work seamlessly. It doesn’t look as if that is the case any more.

Steve Z.

 


Posted by Jon Polish
Jul 9, 2018 at 05:24 PM

 

Also the interface is distinctly unusual. The slowdown Paul refers to is still present, at least in my testing. And the hierarchical tags (if my memory is correct) are not what one would expect. For example

A
...1
....2
B ...3
...4

In CintaNotes, assigning tag 2 also assigns tag A. The result looks like this: A/2.

Selecting tag 2 in myBase assigns tag 2 only. To get the same result as CintaNotes, you must select the parent tag too. Again, this is based on my memory of myBase.

Jon

 


Posted by cicerosc
Jul 9, 2018 at 05:57 PM

 

Are there no screenshots anywhere?  It’s a red flag in itself that the home page doesn’t seem to have any.

 


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