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Evernotee: Whats Up?

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Posted by Daly de Gagne
Oct 25, 2009 at 05:19 PM


Does anyone have a sense of what’s happening with Evernote?

I read the forum, and it seems the developers are less and less responsive. Reading the forum on beta 3.5 it seems the company has more bugs than they can shake a stick at, and are not on top of dealing with responses from beta testers.

My overall perspective is that Evernote has made a decision not to be a major player in personal information management.

How can it be with a lot of people experiencing speed slow-downs in the existing version, never mind the beta? There’s not much in the 3.5 feature set that suggests EN understands or wants to deal with the need to process information substantively beyond what it now does.

What am I missing here?



Posted by dan7000
Oct 25, 2009 at 07:48 PM


Good question, Daly.

Here’s my (totally speculative guess) answer to what’s up with EN.  First, though a caveat: I tend to be a pollyana about software that I like - I often miss the warning signs in my hope that developers are just about to fulfill my dreams with a new version.  For example, I was still cheering for ADM even after the developers stopped responding to posts or releasing updates.

That said, here is my hopeful response to your query about EN:

1. I frequent the forums, too, and I still see the developers responding daily to tens, if not hundreds, of posts.
2. EN brags about having 1.5 million registered users.  How many other info management products can claim those numbers?  Plus, they’ve convinced some % of us to cough up $45 / year for the premium version.  That is a sustainable revenue model - unlike one-time software sales.  All this is to say that I am hopeful that EN it too successful to drop off the face of the earth.
3. In the past 2 months, I think they’ve released about 1 Windows beta update a week (just off the top of my head, I haven’t counted) - and at the same time they’ve released new Android and Pre versions and updates to the iPhone and Blackberry. 

All of this makes me hope that while EN developers may be stretched too thin—too many projects going on and not enough time to really nail any of them—they are nowhere close to giving up, and will keep delivering improvements.

As to your specific comments about the direction of 3.5, I must reluctantly agree.  Honestly, I think maybe they should scrap it and start over again—it’s that bad.  For my use, 3.5 gives almost no benefit that is not present in 3.1 except for in-note search.  And it doesn’t give any of the major features users have clamored for (inter-note links, subnotebooks, a decent text editor).  And, worst of all, 3.5 has major performance problems that are likely rooted deep in the database architecture and are thus unlikely to be solved.  As I believe you have noted, if you are experiencing slow searches with 1,000 notes, how can you be comfortable thinking about adding another 10,000 notes to this product in the next few years?  3.1 was fast.  With my 2,500 notes, 3.5 is distressingly slow.  This alone makes me think they are getting some really bad advice from an inexperienced software architect who has made a really bad call.  Plus, 3.5 is a lot uglier than 31.

They should go back to 3.1 and start from scratch just adding the features people are asking for, without worrying about rewriting the entire chrome and database.


Posted by Jonathan Probber
Oct 26, 2009 at 12:18 AM


Hello all—

I’m sort of waffling about Evernote too.  I love the concept, was besotted by the feature list etc. and paid for the premium service.  After almost a year, I’m using virtually none of my paid-for capacity.  I had wanted to dump all of my music onto their servers, but they make it difficult by limiting the size of one note, so I’d have to do it song-by-song, essentially.  Not going to happen.

When I took a really hard look at my requirements, I snapped back to reality based on the following:  there really isn’t that much stuff I need to archive—I can go back on the web and get it.  Stuff I truly do need to preserve is on Google Docs, or Gmail as well as a backup hard drive. Also on paper.  When I need to clip a little text, jot a quick note, or save a URL I use a nice thing called Shovebox (I’m a Mac) which fulfills my needs.  Cheap, low-impact and really suits my style.  Reminds me a bit of Borland’s Sidekick, for you oldsters.

It’s better for me to separate outlining, calendaring, etc. into software which better handles those.  I use Gcal, and Omni Outliner.  I’ve just joined Google Wave, and am starting to fool around with that. 

Thanks for all the good day-in day-out chat.


I won’t be re-upping with Evernote.  Mostly because it’s too big a production for my relatively modest needs.


Posted by Wes Perdue
Oct 26, 2009 at 05:23 AM


Excellent summary, Dan.  I’ve been using the current major version of Evernote on PC and iPhone for the past couple years, and have been using it on both a PC and Mac for the past year.  I use it extensively to store and retrieve notes.

While I like that the Windows version is approaching the usability of the Mac version (tag auto-completion is one of my biggest wishes), 3.5 never finished an initial sync, so it’s unusable for me.

I agree with the assessment that 3.5 looks to be a failure at worst, and pre-alpha at best.  I also wish they would fix major text-formatting bugs in both platforms and bring the text editors to a high level of quality before they re-chrome the Windows version.


Posted by Alexander Deliyannis
Oct 26, 2009 at 08:38 AM


I’ve been known to back the wrong software horse a few times (anybody remember Hyperclip? I chose it over UltraRecall in 2003, and about a year later it was gone) so don’t rely too much on what I’m saying for your own data. Do choose what you feel most confident with, which for many won’t be a program like Evernote with one foot on desktop and one on the cloud—potentially making it twice as likely to fail.

That said, I am a happy Evernote user. I upgraded to Premium more for stuff like PDF search and attaching any kind of file (what I wanted to do was attach .AMR audio notes) than for the capacity which I barely use. Notwithstanding, I like the excess capacity; it makes me feel that I’ll be able to do a lot more stuff in the future. When I joined Gmail, I couldn’t figure what to do with 2 Gigs of capacity; by now I’ve used about 70% of the 7 it has grown to, and will be upgrading to Google Apps with my team, giving us each 25 Gbytes to work with.

I was much looking forward to getting in Windows the kind of functionality I saw in Macs and in that respect the 3.5 beta is OK for me. I experienced the initial migration problems that everyone else did—and in this respect I can’t understand why EN didn’t allow for importing one’s existing local database as they do now straight away; after all, the format is the same, with only an additional file for image thumbnails which is automatically built. I actually took the risk and copied the database on my own, so I could access the data. It worked, and a couple of days later they gave instructions on the blog for everyone to do the same.

Of course the 3.5 is beta, which means that it still has bugs; I’ve found a few and posted them through the Technical Support form and promptly got a thank you reply. I no longer go through the forum but in rare occasions, as there it makes no difference that I am a Premium member—heck, I don’t often go premium in services, so I might as well enjoy it! Given the number of posts at the forum I think that Evernote are doing quite a decent job in replying.

At the same time, Evernote’s underlying SQLite database looks as sturdy as ever; I’ve never had data integrity problems, even after failed synchronisations.

3.5 has also been built from the ground up as a .NET application so it’s not surprising that it’s slower that 3.1. Still, it’s comparatively light compared to some other .NET apllications I’ve tried. In any case, there’s no turning back. It’s practically impossible for a software developer nowadays to remain competitive while offering native applications for different platforms. Sooner or later, most will opt for Java (Personal Brain, Concept Draw, Xmind) or for Adobe Air (many social media desktop applications). I’d say that .NET is a good compromise.

Overall, I’m happy with Evernote:

- I have found no better alternative to a capture tool accessible from everywhere.

- The fact that I can also access its actual database from everywhere is an added bonus that I have rarely used, but when I have it has been extremely useful.

- It was the first application that convinced me to use tags to organise information and I’m very pleased I did.

- I find its find-as-you-type functionality consistently fast, as my database is growing.

Therefore, at this point, the technical glitches are the least of my worries. My main concern is that their business model works, and it still needs some time before it becomes profitable: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/30/business/30ping.html?_r=1 and http://37signals.com/svn/posts/1890-the-bar-for-success-in-our-industry-is-too-low

That said, with 1.5 million users trusting their data to them, even if they fail, Google or Microsoft will probably buy them out.


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