Clibu Version 0.66.10 has been released

Clibu has been updated to V0.66.10. This release includes some cosmetic & usability updates based on the feedback we’ve been receiving, as well as fixing some bugs. Simply Refresh your Clibu Tabs in your Browser to start using this new release. See this Clibu Forum Announcement for full details.

The really big news though is we now have the Clibu Web Clipper Browser extension available for Chrome. More on this in the next post.

For folks who use Twitter I’ve recently created a Twitter account @getclibu which you can subscribe to. This will supersede the @surfulater twitter account.

Finally thanks to our Beta testers for all their help and feedback.

-Neville

Search Keywords – by Ken Moshier

I’m very pleased to publish this Guest Post by Ken Moshier and greatly appreciate Ken’s contribution. It would be great to see more guest posts, so please do contact me if you would like to join in.

Note that Ken is primarily discussing embedding searchable keywords in articles, and note about Clibu’s Hierarchical Tags. I have my own ideas about embedding ‘actual tags’ in articles, so stay tuned for that.  Neville

ABOUT ME:

I am a down-load software “junkie” – a note taking “aficionado” on crack.

I am a hairdresser-I am a Visual (right-brain). Linear concepts and structure give me brain contusions. I was a salon owner for over twenty-seven years, a National Educator for many beauty companies for thirty-five years and also a Creative Director for a high-end spa/salon network. I helped with manuals, assistant certification guides etc.

I can look you in the eye and tell you for a fact that, every beauty related manual/knowledge base started with an outliner/note taking app. These notes were eventually exported to a word processor for further development and distribution to all stylists in our spa/salon organization. Planning and structuring this amount of information couldn’t have been possible for me (visually handicapped) if it weren’t for an note taking type of software. This goes back to the days of DOS and windows 3.1. By the way.. the app of choice in that era was InfoSelect. In that program I currently have over 15 data files, most with an extreme amount of text notes. Today, with my obsession with note taking software I have around 75 total data files.

Continue reading “Search Keywords – by Ken Moshier”

Clibu V0.65.04 Released

A new version of Clibu V0.65.04 has been released today. It includes enhancements such as improved word matching in Tags auto-suggest lists, clicking on a link now opens the link when you aren’t editing an article, plus with various other User Interface updates. See the Release Notes for complete details.

Log into Clibu and use Browser Refresh to get the new release.

The bulk of our recent development effort has been focused on the new Clibu Web Browser Extension, which enables you to add Web content, along with Tags to a selected Clibu Knowledge Base, all from within the Extension’s popup window.

I’m pleased to say the Extension is working very well, is quick and easy to use and looks good. We’ve got a bit more work to do on the User Interface, packaging and testing and expect to have a release available in the coming weeks.

Our Clibu Community forums are a great place for you to create and participate in discussions about Clibu, including features you would like to see in the future. So do join in and help us move Clibu forward to meet both your needs and those of the wider community.

Finally if you’ve recently signed up to participate in our Beta program, we plan to approve the next batch of people today.

– Neville

New Clibu Website + easier Beta Signup

We’ve completed the initial Clibu web site and it has been live for over a week now. I am very pleased with how it has come together and feel that it does a good job of getting the message of what Clibu is about out there. The feedback we’ve had so far agrees.

The new site also makes it much easier to sign up and participate in the Clibu Beta program. And it includes social buttons so you can help us let the world know Clibu exists. Please do go and have a look.

We’ve removed a few folks that signed up for the Beta early on but have never tried it or provided us with any feedback. This helps us free up places for new people that are signing up.

The Clibu community forum is starting to get some traction and we encourage you to join in with your suggestions on ways to improve Clibu to meet any specific needs you feel are a good fit.

The new Browser Extension for Clibu is coming along very nicely and as of yesterday is fully functional, which is very exciting. It has much more functionality than the Surfulater Browser Extension, simplifying and streamlining adding new content from the Browser. More on this soon.

-Neville

Clibu Beta V0.65.03 Released. Streamlined Tagging etc.

This latest Clibu release makes it easier to add Tags both to Articles and to the Tags Tree. If you are a heavy Tag user these new features will speed up and simplify your work flow.

The ‘New Tag’ button which is beside the ‘Hide/Show Tags Tree’ button located above the Tags Tree, lets you create a new Tag and add it as a child of any existing tag. Ctrl+G also does  this.

The Tags Tree item menu now includes ‘New child Tag’ which lets you quickly add a Tag as a child of the selected Tag.

The menu also includes ‘New Tagged Article’ which creates a new article tagged with the selected tag.

This release provides a new quick way to add tags to an article from content (words) in the article. Select the text you want to use for the tag and the selection toolbar pops up.

In this example I’ve selected saffron threads. Clicking on the ‘Add Tag’ button adds saffron threads to the tags for this article.

saffron threads doesn’t exist yet so you are given the option to Create it or edit it.

The two screen shots above also show the new look tooltips we’ve implemented in this release. Different colored tips are used in different contexts and along with better positioning enable us to provide more targeted feedback.

The final area I want to highlight is Clibu’s ability to both Rename and to Merge Tags. Merge comes into play when you want to rename a tag and the new tag name already exists.

In this scenario all articles using the original tag are updated to use the new (existing) tag and the original tag is deleted, hence merging the two tags into one.

In my experience some applications allow you to rename a tag, but typically only if the new tag doesn’t exist. This is a pity as the ability to merge similar tags is an important one when it comes to effective tag management.

In this example I want to rename the Tag Harira soup to Harissa soup.

As soon as I finished typing Harissa soup two things happen. First a tip pops up telling me that the tag Harissa soup already exists in the current parent tag Moroccan and second the ‘Rename’ button changes to ‘Merge’, making it clear what will happen if I continue.

With this release we’ve continued to add important new functionality, enhanced existing capabilities and fixed a variety of bugs.

For complete release notes see: Clibu Alpha V0.65.03 Beta released, 23 April 2014

If you are looking for a better way to collect, manage and share information and would like to influence Clibu’s development direction then you should participate in our Beta program. See the Clibu web site for sign-up details.

If you are signed up for the Beta program but are not actively participating in it, you may find that you’ve been removed. Contact us if you want to restore access.

Happy Clibu’ing, Neville

Clibu Beta V0.65.00 Released

Time flies, it has been almost a month since we launched the Clibu Alpha trial. The good news is we’ve now officially progressed from Alpha to Beta release status, which is a big and exciting step. Of course development continues apace with new capabilities added and bugs fixed.

We’ve had some good feedback, but need so much more, so please do get in touch, either by creating a Support Ticket or via. the Clibu Forums, both located at our Clibu Support Center.

If you’ve already been accepted into the Clibu Trial but haven’t had time to try Clibu yet and intend to soon, please let me know, so you aren’t removed from the program.

This release enables you to create ‘See Also’ links to tie related articles together.  Start by selecting the target article by clicking on it’s checkbox.

Clibu Article Selection checkbox

Next select the text in the source article where you want to create the link.

Selection Toolbar with 'See Also' button

Finally click the “Create ‘See Also’ Link” button.  ‘See Also’ links are not restricted to a single Knowledge Base and can link articles across Knowledge Bases.

‘See Also’ links have their own styling as shown here.

A 'See Also' Link

You’ll see another new feature above, the floating toolbar. This is displayed whenever you select some text or click on a link.

When you click on a link, press Ctrl+K or click the ‘Insert a link’ toolbar button when the cursor is on a link, this floating toolbar pops up.

Link Floating Toolbar

From here you can Edit, Remove or Open the link.

Edit Web Link dialog

Editing lets you change the link’s Web address or edit its text. You can also Remove the link here.

These new floating toolbars make it quicker and easier to perform selection and link related tasks. Other new planned text selections capabilities will make further use of floating toolbars.

This covers the most important additions to this, our first Beta release. See the Clibu Release Notes for further details.

– Neville

Surfulater NextGen Alpha Release is here

I’m excited to let everyone know that we have begun trialing and testing the first Alpha Release of Surfulater Next-Gen, from herein named Clibu along with the new Clibu web site.

Clibu is the culmination of several years hard work and a lot of thinking about creating a solid, easy to use application whose foundation can be built upon to meet the needs of its users.

Clibu is the distillation of it’s predecessor, Surfulater, simplified, streamlined and migrated from a Windows PC Desktop Application to a Web Application that can run on any modern Web Browser on any Operating System.

Clibu unlocks your information from your PC enabling access from any PC, anywhere, offering collaboration and information sharing with colleagues, family and friends.

With Clibu today you can:

  • Create  and edit Articles.
  • Collaborate with other users, each seeing the others edits as they occur.
  • Copy and paste text and images from any application into Articles.
  • Organize articles using multiple hierarchical Tags.
  • Instantly rename, move and delete Tags.
  • Filter articles by one or more Tags, using either the Tags Tree or Tags Filters.
  • Use full text Search to find articles, with matches highlighted.
  • Create and open as many Knowledge Bases as you want.
  • Rearrange Tabs using drag & drop.
  • Use rich text editing, with various fonts, text and background colors, lists etc.
  • Display articles in Summary or Full.
  • Star important articles and see only starred articles.
  • Move articles to Trash and restore them again.

However you can’t (at least not yet):

  • Use Web Browser extensions to add content.
  • Add Attachments to articles.
  • Use different article templates.
  • Use ‘See Also’ article cross references.

It is the foundation on which we’ll build these capabilities and much more.

Being an Alpha Release any content you add may not be able to be migrated as we move forward. So only use this Alpha release to familiarize yourself with Clibu and it’s current capabilities, so that you can provide us with your feedback and product guidance. Please only use the Clibu Help & Support Center for feedback and bug reports. For general discussion use the Community Forum and for Bug’s, use the Ticket system.

We are only providing access to a very small number of users at this early stage. Open a Ticket at the Clibu Help & Support Center or e-mail help@clibu.com if you’d like to be added to the Alpha release list.

– Neville

On Organizing Content, in Surfulater-NextGen

If you’ve read my earlier posts about Surfulater-NextGen (SNG) you’ll know I’m moving to using Tags as the way to categorize and organize content.

Surfulater’s Folders work pretty well and the ability to have an article in many folders at once is a great feature, which is not often seen. But it also has Tags, which means you have two quite different ways to handle organizing and locating content. And the Tags aren’t hierarchical! Finally putting an article into multiple folders is a little cumbersome.

To simplify and enhance content organization SNG uses Tags exclusively, albeit greatly enhanced from what you currently have. Tags can be nested, letting you use a neatly structured tags hierarchy or tags tree. And you can use as many levels as you want.

Tags Tree

Articles can have as many tags as you want. And Tags aren’t restricted to just a single word, as they are in some systems.

Article Tags
Tags in an article

You enter new tags in the Add Tags field.

The Auto-suggest dropdown list makes it easy to add the tags you want, including adding multiple tags at once and removing existing tags.

Tags Auto-suggest dropdown

If a tag doesn’t exist, click on Create to add it.

Create a new Tag

In this example I want to add a tag named XBMC. The Tags tree lets you select the parent Tag for this new tag. A given tag can be added to as many tree branches as you want.

This should give you a good overview of some of the Tags capabilities in SNG. I’ll continue with more on Tags in the next blog post.

Clearly I’ve been remiss in not posting on the blog in way too long, likely a record for me. Part of the reason is that I’ve simply had my head down working hard on SNG. I’m working on a lot of minutia and haven’t felt that I’ve had a lot to say, but in fact there is.  I’ve already got the next post in my head, and there is quite a bit I can’t write about I just need to force myself to do.

All the best,
Neville

To Cloud or not?

In my many years of developing software I can’t recall a more contentious issue than whether data is stored in the cloud or not. This is evidenced in the comments (1, 2) to my recent blog posts and in other communications.

People fall into two camps, they are either strongly against having their data stored in the cloud or they are quite happy to have it there and look forward to the benefits therein.

The former group sites concerns over security of their data, a feeling of loss of ownership, the inability to access their data if they don’t have an internet connection and concerns about the cloud provider going out of business, which are all legitimate issues. As for security, strong data encryption makes it very difficult for others to access.  The company  going out of business is an issue regardless of whether data is in the cloud or not.

On the flip-side the benefits for applications and content in the cloud are clear:

  • you can access your data from any PC anywhere in the world.
  • you can collaborate and share information with others (if you want to).
  • someone else ensures you data is safely and regularly backed up.
  • you don’t need to install any software.
  • you can use any operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux) on any hardware and use Tablet’s to access content.
  • you don’t need to do regular software upgrades. you are always using the latest version of the software.
  • you don’t need to worry about your PC failing and being unable to access your information until it is repaired/replaced and software and data restored. Or worse being lost or stolen.
  • you don’t need to leave a PC turned on 24/7 wasting electricity and costing you money.

This still leaves one big issue: “the inability to access your data when you don’t have an internet connection”. My feeling is that this is much less of an issue than it was say 5+ years ago with ubiquitous internet access now common place. That said there are still times when we may not be connected, such as in an aeroplane or out and about in no-mans-land.

It remains clear that some people will not use the cloud for certain applications or content. I think this will change with future generations who are used to having everything in the cloud and being connected 24/7.

Taking these concerns on board I see several solutions which I did touch on, on some of my blog comment replies. The main one being the ability to install the software locally and access it as a personal cloud. This gives you full ownership of your content, but loses most of the significant benefits I listed above. By personal cloud I simply mean software that is installed on a specific PC, whose content is accessed from that and other PC’s using a Web Browser or other application.

Another possibility which I personally find intriguing, is for us to bundle up a small low cost computer and the software into one package. If you follow the low cost, small form factor (SFF) computer area at all, you will most likely have heard of the Raspberry PI, which is a  basic $25-$35 computer. More powerful SFF computers are available from $50-$100, with these being better suited to my use case. You would simply connect this to you Local Area Network (LAN) either via. an Ethernet connection or WiFi, plug in a USB Hard Drive and turn on the power, and away you go, with access via. your favourite Web Browser.

The benefits of this packaged hardware+software solution could include:

  • you can access your data from any PC anywhere in the world.
  • you can collaborate and share information with others (if you want to).
  • you don’t need to install any software.
  • software upgrades could be handled by a service we offered.
  • you can use any operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux) on any hardware and use Tablet’s to access content.
  • it uses far less power than a conventional PC making it cost effective to leave on 24/7.
  • all data is kept on a local hard drive, so you are in complete control.

Again I find this an intriguing solution, one I’d personally welcome, however I have no idea what level of interest there would be in the general marketplace.

A final possibility is to create a local application that is simply installed as a Web Browser Extension. There are lots of Browser Extensions around that do lots of interesting things, however there are fundamental issues with this approach. The main problem is that the database capabilities built-in to web browsers impose serious limits on the amount of data they can store. Further the current state of browser database engines is a mess with different browsers implementing different and incompatible database systems. And they  don’t stack up all that well against fully fledged database systems.

Browser Extensions suffer from other problems as well. We have to write, maintain and support quite different extensions for each Browser. Extensions have a bad habit of breaking, as new browser versions are released. And not all Browsers support Extensions (IE, Opera, Tablets?).

In my ideal world I’d have an application like Surfulater running locally as well as in the cloud. The local version would be used whenever I was unable to access the Internet. It would be automagically synchronized to the cloud application the next time I was connected to the Internet. Conversely all updates done on the cloud application would be synchronized back to my local application.  And the local application could be installed at multiple premises in different locations, with them all being kept in sync. This gives me the best of all possible worlds. It is however the most complex and costly solution to produce and deliver. (I wrote about this back in Dec, 2010).

Of course there is even more to this I could cover, but that’s enough for now. As always I welcome and look forward to your comments.

-Neville

PS. In reviewing various related communications I noticed a request for a Portable version of Surfulater (ie. one that runs on a USB stick.) Isn’t using Surfulater as a Web application in the Cloud the ultimate portable version.

Surfulater, Next Generation Part 2

Moving on from Part 1 I want to show you some of the new applications user interface and discuss how it works and differs from Surfulater. Let’s start with a screen shot of the entire application.

On the left is the new hierarchical Tags Tree. The top Navigation Bar lets you select a Knowledge Base, change the content window view from summary to full-article view, Add an Article and perform actions for the current user. It also displays some status information.

The right pane is the content window. Various Buttons and Toolbars are displayed at the top, depending on whether you are editing content or operating on it. This screen shot shows the editing toolbar. Articles are displayed below this area.

At the top of each article is a button to toggle between showing the article in full or in summary and a button to select the article for bulk operations such as Move to Trash, Archive etc. Next comes Date created followed by the set of Tags for the article, followed by the articles content.

The separate Hierarchical Folder tree, Tags Tree and Chronological views have been replaced by a single new Tags Tree. Tags are hierarchical and can be as deep as you want. Tags can be edited, with changes reflected in all articles instantly. I’ll discuss tags further in Part 3 of this series.

Also note that the Tags tree no longer includes the articles associated with a tag. This drastically reduces tree clutter, making it quicker and easier to move around. The content pane shows all selected articles and the summary view effectively shows what the old tree did without the duplication.

The content window shows all articles for the selected tag in Chronological order. I may well add other sort options, such as alphabetic by article content.

To edit an article you simply click inside it, no more pencil click to switch into edit mode. And edits are saved automatically as you type.

I’ve tried to extract the essence of what is in Surfulater and simplify it as much as possible without sacrificing functionality. What you see here is the result of that pairing down to a much less cluttered, easier to approach and understand user interface. And most importantly a user interface that is very much at home on a touch based tablet device like an iPad as well as your Desktop PC.

Stay tuned for Part 3 where I’ll show you parts of the new user interface in more detail. Following that I’ll get onto some of the more exciting new capabilities.