When I first wrote about Stainless, I indicated that it provided impressive features/functionalities for a version 0.1 release. In a subsequent post, I elaborated on Stainless’ strengths and weaknesses.
Stainless is now at version 0.2.5. And in the space of a few weeks, Mesa Dynamics has addressed a number of the weaknesses I previously noted. Specifically:
- Download capability – It just works now! Thanks!
- Offline mode – Via Google Gears. Interestingly, I predicted this might take some time. I am so happy to be wrong!!
- Interaction with Google Notebook – Even via the bookmarklet is fine!
- URL Caching/Auto-Completion – As noted previously …
I recently asked: Is desktop software is dead?
Increasingly, I am of the opinion that desktop software is well on its way to extinction.
In its place, Synced-Data Applications (SDAs) have emerged.
One of the best examples I’ve recently run across is Evernote. Native Evernote applications exist for desktops (as well as handhelds) and for the cloud (e.g., via a Web browser). Your data is replicated between the cloud (in this example, Evernote’s Webstores) and your desktop(s)/handheld(s). Synced-Data Applications.
And with Google Gears, Google Docs has also entered the SDA software paradigm.
With SDAs, it’s not just about the cloud, and it’s not just about the desktop/handheld. It’s all about the convergence that this software paradigm brings.
A revised version of the figure I shared in the previous post on this thread is included below.
Once again, it emphasizes that interest is focused on the convergence between the isolated realm of the desktop/handheld on the one hand, and the cloud (I previously referred to this as the network) on the other.
It’s much, much less about commercial versus Open Source software. And yes, I remain unaware of SDA examples that live purely in the Open Source realm …
I serendipitously happened across MindMeister about thirty minutes ago.
Since then, I’ve created a mind map from scratch, plus imported and exported maps with FreeMind – my incumbent mind-mapping software. (The importing/exporting appears to work very well. This is one of the capabilities of Google Docs & Spreadsheets that makes it a keeper, so kudos to the MindMeister team infor getting this right in a beta version!)
So, based on less-than-an-hour’s experience, I am quite impressed. This is yet another example of a browser-based application that performs as if it’s installed locally – on a powerful laptop/desktop! Although I haven’t been able to confirm this yet, I suspect that MindMeister is based on AJAX – just like Google Docs & Spreadsheets.
As you can read for yourself from more-comprehensive reviews, others are also impressed with MindMeister even though it lacks a number of features/functionalities. For example as a former use of Mindjet MindMapper, and current, frequent user of FreeMind, what I’m missing the most in MindMeister (so far) is the ability to attach notes and hyperlinks to my nodes. I’m sure that capabilities such as these aren’t far away.
In addition to being intuitive and responsive, the online aspect of MindMeister is impressive. Taking another page out of the Google Docs & Spreadsheets’ book, this inherently online element is used to enable collaboration.
And just to close with some wild speculation … MindMeister would make a nice acquisition target for Google. It’d be a complimentary inclusion in their expanding online productivity portfolio. I would also expect it to be an interesting fit with Google’s JotSpot wiki and even Google Notebook.
I am delighted to report that there is a Firefox plug-in for annotation:
This is the the Annozilla project, designed to view and create annotations associated with a web page, as defined by the W3C Annotea project. The idea is to store annotations as RDF on a server, using XPointer (or at least XPointer-like constructs) to identify the region of the document being annotated.
This is precisely what I was goading Google into doing with Google Notebook.
Google Docs supports comments.
First you select text, or place the cursor somewhere in your document.
Then you click on the “Insert” tab and finally on “Comment”. (“Ctrl-M” also works as a keyboard shortcut.)
You can now type directly into the comment area. The comment area is clearly delineated by a color of your choosing.
I’ve attached an example (oars_abstract) produced with Google Docs. It’s rendered here in PDF so that the comment can be viewed.
For additional help with comments, you can have a look at the Google Docs & Spreadsheets Help Center.
As I’ve blogged elsewhere, this is an example of annotation in the context of word processing.
In the case of Google Docs, this is precisely where I’d love to see an integration with Google Notebook. More specifically, extend the Google Docs notion of a comment by allowing for a Web-addressable comment. In delivering a comment that can be identified by a URL (or even better a URI), we’re closer to having an annotation.
And while we’re at it, one more thing. I’d like the resulting annotation to make use of XPointer 😉