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 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,

New Surfulater Help & Support Center

We have once again moved to a new Help & Support Center. For a long time we used a Forum for support. This worked well for discussing new features, but not so well for providing effective support.

We then moved to more of a Help Desk system provided by TenderApp which was pretty good for support, but lacked the forum and discussion capability we previously had. It also fell short in other areas, such as handling multiple products and tracking tickets via. e-mail.

So for a while now I’ve been looking around for a better, more all encompassing package to deliver support and reinstate a discussion area. I almost went with but fortunately found before it was too late. (I intend to write another post about this).

Our new Surfulater Help & Support Center lets you create private support Tickets, find Solutions to known issues and use the Forums to suggest ideas for future releases, get help from other users, post your tips and request public support.

The best way to use the new system is to ‘Sign Up’ for an account which will give you full access to all areas and won’t bother you with CAPTCHA entry. The ‘sign up’ link is at the top right of the page.

We have brought across the Solutions from the previous system, but not the Help tickets.

Note that with this change our e-mail address is no longer in use. For all support issues use the new Support Center. For non-support related matters you can reach us at The e-mail address which we used with the previous Help System works with the new one and will create a new private support ticket or let you reply to an existing ticket.

This latest Help system has a much broader range of features, enables us to support multiple products in the one package and will streamline and enhance our support capability.


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.

Surfulater, Next Generation Part 1

Three years ago I thought all the talk of the death of Desktop Applications was well and truly premature. I’d spent my entire career developing desktop applications and as far as I was concerned there was no way web/browser based applications could or would supplant my much beloved desktop applications any time soon.

It turns out that three years is a very long time in the computing world. All around me peoples use of computers is changing, as is my own. Certain categories of Desktop applications will be around for many years to come, but many others will move into the Browser with nothing to install locally and all benefits that entails.

There are several extremely good reasons for this seismic shift, which has in my mind been largely brought about by the advent of smart phones and their incredible popularity, along with Tablets like the iPad.

We now expect to have access to our information wherever we are and  whenever we want. You could be visiting aunt Mary, be in the car on a road trip or having a coffee at your local cafe. The days of being tied to a Desktop PC “to do stuff” are over, gone the way of the dodo.

And this is precisely why development of the Desktop version of Surfulater has essentially come to an end. Surfulater users want to be able to access and work with their Knowledge Bases from any PC or Tablet anywhere on the planet. They don’t want to be tied to their Office or Home PC to use it and they don’t want to have to copy Knowledge Bases back and forth between PC’s to keep them in sync. It is simply all too restrictive and too hard.

So it is time to move forward to the next generation of Surfulater, one that you can use on any PC, be it a Mac, Linux or Windows as well as on Tablet devices such as iPad’s and Android. Where your information is in sync across all devices, without you having to do anything. And where it is available to you wherever you are whenever you want. And does not require installation, and is always the latest version.

This is the future of Surfulater as I see it, that you want and that we are working on. Great progress has been made so far this year, to the point where I am using it instead of Desktop Surfulater most of the time. But (there is always a but) there is still quite a ways to go.

In my next post you’ll get a peak at the user interface and I’ll talk about the fundamental changes that have been made, largely based on your feedback, our own usage and following current development trends. I’ve already taken the screen shots so expect to see part 2 soon.

New Surfulater release to work with Firefox Version 10

I’ve just updated Surfulater to work with Firefox Version 10. I’ve commented previously about my displeasure of this silly game Mozilla is playing with Firefox version numbering, nuff said.

The download is located here and is Version Close all copies of Firefox and close Surfulater. Then start Surfulater, answer the prompt about installing a new Extension. Then start Firefox and accept the new Surfulater Extension when it prompts you. The FF Extension is also Version


Surfulater V3.41 was released on 25 March 2011

Some things such as blogging have gotten a bit away from me of late and I am here now to somewhat belatedly let those who may have missed the automated update notification, now that Surfulater V3.41 was released back on March 25th.

V3.41.0.0 is an update to work with the latest Web Browsers from Mozilla and Microsoft, namely Firefox Version 4 and Internet Explorer Version 9. It will also work with older versions of these browsers and continues to work with Google Chrome.

My next blog post (out tomorrow) is titled “Why Google Chrome is my Web Browser of choice.”

Have a great week everyone.

Google Chrome integration and more in Surfulater V3.40.0.0

Google Chrome Context Menu

Another new release of Surfulater is now available, Version The big news in this release is full support for the Google Chrome Web Browser, enabling you to capture content from any page using Chrome, along with complete web pages etc.

Google Chrome Context Menu
Google Chrome Context Menu

This works in the same way as our other Surfulater Extensions for Firefox and Internet Explorer, by adding Surfulater to the Chrome right click context menu. For some background on the Chrome Extension see my previous post.

The next important new feature in this release is the ability to remove HTML markup from article content. There are times when captured web page content includes styles and formatting etc. which simply add clutter and we don’t want. Remove HTML Markup comes in handy here and lets you choose various types of markup to remove, including all HTML markup.

The menu shown below is available whenever content is being edited.

Editing context menu showing Remove HTML Markup.
Editing context menu showing: Remove HTML Markup.

I suggest you try each of the menu options to see the result. You can always press Escape to Cancel the changes and keep the original content.

A perennial problem that a very small number of people have is the inability to add new articles from their Web Browser and see images in existing articles. This is typically caused by either Firewall or Anti Virus software blocking access to Surfulater’s built-in Web Server. I’ve written about this issue before here and here. Well it happened again recently to a new user and this time I decided it was time to write some code to check access was working and notify the user if not, preempting some frustration on their part and support requests on ours. I’ve also added a new Troubleshooting section to the Surfulater Help which provides assistance with this issue.

A nasty bug which was introduced in the last release has also been fixed. It was related to the new capability added in that release to enable articles to be dragged from the content window to the knowledge tree. The result was a random, very difficult to reproduce crash. An big thanks to the various folks that sent in the crash reports.

A variety of other issues have been addressed including some Unicode issues with Knowledge Tree Filters. They are all outlined in the V3 Release Notes in the Help.

As always we trust you benefit from the work we’ve done in this release and look forward to your feedback and suggestions. The Surfulater Download page is where it’s been for a while now.


A Google Chrome Extension for Surfulater arises

Requests have been coming in for a while now for a Google Chrome Extension that would enable integration with Surfulater, as we do for Firefox and Internet Explorer. We didn’t want to rush into this as we had no idea whether Chrome would gain traction and because there were capabilities missing from Chrome Extensions that we needed for Surfulater.

Time has passed and Chrome’s popularity continues to rise (I can now see why). For us software developers the good news is the Google team behind Chrome keep working on its Extension programming interface, recently adding the missing features we need for the Surfulater Extension.

What all of this means, is that I am pleased to report, we now have a Surfulater Chrome Extension that is 86% complete and in testing so far, is working very well indeed.

In fact I’d have to say this would be the best extension we’ve developed so far, largely due to the great job the folks at Google have done in designing Chrome’s Extension interface and the way Chrome extensions work.  Also Chrome’s debugging capabilities seem smoother than other browsers. Overall it has been a pleasure developing the Surfulater Chrome Extension and Plugin, which isn’t something I can say for the other Web Browsers.

Google Chrome is a very interesting product, which along with important new functionality in HTML5 and future developments that Google is working on, opens the doors to new and interesting ways for folks like us to create and develop products. I understand the folks at Mozilla are making fairly major changes to Extensions in Firefox V4, however I’ve not yet had time to look into this. There is no doubt in my mind that they have quite some catching up to do, compared with Google Chrome. It will be interesting to see if they can pull it off.