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Collecting web pages 2.0

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Posted by MadaboutDana
Sep 2, 2014 at 08:01 AM


Hi folks,

In the knowledge that knowledge management is part of what this forum is all about, I thought I’d revert to the interesting subject of web pages and how best to capture/archive them.

All the following thoughts relate to Mac only, I’m afraid. Macs have a plethora of gorgeous info management apps - the quality and sophistication is generally much more impressive than most apps I’ve encountered on PC. The sharing - not so much, although it’s getting better.

So here, without more ado, are my thoughts on the apps I’ve been experimenting with:

▪ Growly Notes ([print to Growly Notes function]: nice, but the search function is poor - slow - and moving notes around is difficult)
▪ OneNote ([copy to OneNote bookmark] also nice, and search function is good; moving notes is easy, too, but import is slow, format is restrictive – graphic only – and despite full-text indexing, you can’t export or copy the actual text. I’ve tried the copy-and-paste approach, too – as per Notebooks – and while it works okay, it’s not optimal because formatting isn’t preserved well, and URLs aren’t copied over, unlike the PC version)
▪ Yojimbo ([print to Yojimbo function] powerful, does the sensible thing and stores web pages as PDF files, but doesn’t communicate desperately well with its own iOS app and doesn’t store metadata or even website URLs, unlike OneNote. Search is good, though)
▪ Together ([print to Together function] more or less identical to Yojimbo, but with an even flakier iOS client and rather unstable behaviour; promising, however)
▪ Notebooks ([copy and paste] still one of my favourites, but you have to manually copy and paste web pages and their URLs. A bit tedious! Reproduction of web pages is astonishingly good, however)
▪ Stache ([copy to Stache button] very fast and very convenient, with powerful search function. But needs a lot of memory – can only really be consulted if it’s the only app running – and stores web pages as .webarchive files – awkward to open because of OS X’s restrictions – or screenshots, which are convenient but limited. Plus very limited output functions - no printing, for example, which means you can’t output the web archives as PDFs - silly!)
▪ Curio ([print to Curio Scrapbook function] haven’t really experimented yet, but I think it’s limited to PDF – but copy and paste is almost certainly an option)
▪ DevonThink (nope, haven’t got it - I know, I should, but it really is expensive!)
▪ Thoughts ([copy and paste] quite nice, with a very good search function, but not quite interesting enough to compete. Although it might become so)

And my current favourite:
Scrivener: [Import as web page function] so what’s so good about Scrivener? Well, it stores pages as web archives, but keeps URLs, searches through them instantaneously (using full-text indexing) and is very convenient to use, being the ultimate writing platform, so you can open web archives in separate windows, or alongside note windows, or however you like. The only downside is having to copy and paste URLs into the web page import dialog box, although you could probably automate that using AppleScript. The other good thing is that you can print out web archives as PDF files that are identical to what Yojimbo or Together produce (something Stache doesn’t do), and yet the whole web page is also stored as a web archive. Now that’s flexible. And finally, documents collected by Scrivener are indexed by Spotlight and FoxTrot Pro. Because I use Scrivener more and more as a research and drafting platform, it’s usually open on my desktop in any case. Downside: no iOS client. Upside: FoxTrot has a very good iOS client that allows you to search through the text you’ve indexed on your Mac (cunning!), so you can store text archived in Scrivener in your FoxTrot indices!

I’ll let you know what I find out about Curio, but I think it’ll be essentially the same as Yojimbo/Together in terms of collection facilities, with the added flexibility of copy and paste, and Curio’s very powerful search and tagging functions. We shall see!