Surfulater, Under the Hood and Down the Road

I’ve been asked to write about my vision for Surfulater and decided a Blog post would be a good place for this. I’m afraid it is a bit long winded as I want to lay down some background material so readers will know where I am coming from. I’m told vision statements contain lots of motherhood gobbledygook. Excuse me for excluding such fluff and for not being as visionary as some may like.

I’ve been designing, developing and publishing software for over 20 years. For a number of years I worked with a team of programmers on vertical market applications, in a company of which I was a director. For the past 15 years I’ve worked predominantly on my own, on a product named ED for Windows which is a full featured programmer’s editor. ED is a very large and complex application, with a large and diverse user base who place many demands on it. It is a highly configurable application and can be extended via a built-in scripting language. It also supports some 35+ programming languages. Bottom line – a big, complex, powerful application that most people will never fully utilize.

For quite some time I’d been keen to develop other products and I finally made a small start in late 2003. I spend a lot of time on the Internet researching all manner of things. A lot of the time it is to do with programming, but also business, travel and other personal interests. I was very frustrated by the poor tools available to collect and save information that I found while surfing, and needless to say Bookmarks and Favorites just don’t cut it. So the idea for Surfulater was born. Continue reading “Surfulater, Under the Hood and Down the Road”

Surfulater web site updated – Your Help needed

I’ve just spent some time updating the Surfulater web site, due largely to some prodding by Stephane Grenier. At Stephane’s suggestion I’ve added a new page Success Stories and Testimonials which contains some great stories from our customers and a range of testimonials from users and reviewers.

We continually hear from people how impressed they are with Surfulater and how much it is helping them, which is absolutely fantastic, however it is quite difficult to get detailed success stories. They take a lot of effort on your part and everyone is so stretched for time these days. I’d like to give a special thanks to Anthony Yeats, Cambridge Earth Sciences Limited for his great story.

I’m very keen to get more of these stories for two reasons. The first and obvious one is to put them on the Web site, but more importantly I want to get a better picture of what kinds of projects or tasks Surfulater is being used for. I do know that Surfulater is being used by lots of people for lots of different purposes, but if I can get more detailed information I can apply that towards the future development and direction that Surfulater takes. So I’d like to issue this small plea for your assistance – help!!

Moving right along. I’ve also added a Site Guide page that will be of particular interest to our first time visitors. The Site Guide includes links to each page, along with a brief description of the topic of the associated page.

Other than that I did a few little tweaks here and there.

I’ve been asked on another forum:

Could you share your product “vision” with us? From its name and description it seems clearly web-content targetted, however its feature set –and the development planned- sound more ambitious.

This was definitely pause for thought and I’ve already put pen to paper. I’m not into motherhood statements, so it might not be your normal “vision” statement, but hopefully I’ll convey what I think has been asked of me. Expect to see something quite soon.

Surfulater V1.92, B0.0 released

I wrote last week that Surfulater V1.92, B0.0 would be released this week and it has. It is great to see another new release hit the streets, especially one with new features you’ve been eager to get hold of. These include Printing, Print Preview and Page Setup, along with the ability to sort articles and folders, plus a few other bits and pieces. It is also great to be back coding again and to watch Surfulater take a few more important steps in its evolution.

As always please do tell us how we are going with Surfulater and what capabilities you’d like to see added to make it ever more useful to you.

New Surfulater Firefox Extension available

Unfortunately the Firefox Extension we wrote for Surfulater stopped working in Firefox V1.5. After a bit of digging around and head scratching it seems that the Firefox developers have changed some code in Firefox which broke our extension, and I imagine others as well.

I happened to mention this to Stephane Grenier and he replied about similar problems he’s had:

That’s actually one of the issues we’ve encountered too with LandlordMax with open source software, they have a tendency to make more drastic changes in their code base with less attention given to who may be using it.

I tend to steer away from using open source software for a range of reasons, and this will be just another one. Backwards compatibility is extremely important in software development, it is a burden we simply have to carry.

The good news is that I’ve been able to update the code to use alternate methods and now have a new release of the extension which works with the latest Firefox 1.5 RC1 release as well as earlier releases. I’ve also updated the Surfulater images the extension uses, to the latest ones.

To install the new Surfulater Firefox Extension go to the Download page and install the extension as per the instructions there. This will replace your current extension with the new one. Remember to restart Firefox after installing. The new Surfulater Extension is V1.5. You can check this using Tools|Extensions in Firefox.

Hopefully the extension will continue to work as future releases of Firefox come out.

New Surfulater release imminent

Folks reading this blog will know we’ve recently returned from a great trip to Europe. Jet lag hit me worse than I can recall, but things are well and truly back in full swing now.

The good news is that I’ve implemented some of your most requested items of the past few months, namely Printing and Article Sorting.

I’ve been a bit surprised at the number of requests for printing so I’m sure those concerned will be anxiously awaiting the new release. As well as printing there is the usual Print Preview and Page Setup capabilities along with some other updates and additions.

If all goes to plan you will see a release next week, that being the week starting 7 Nov 2005.

If you haven’t visited the blog in a while you will see that I’m back into posting again, after a bit of a lull while we were away. I hope you find something of interest while browsing around.

As always comments most welcome, whether they be about Surfulater, the Blog, PKM or whatever takes your interest.

I just did a spell check before publishing this for the world to see and thought I share this with you:
imminent: hanging threateningly over one’s head. I certainly hope that’s not the case.

Surfulater V1.90, B0.0 released

Ok I finally gave in and added good old File Open, New and Close. Way back when I started on the design of Surfulater I thought that I would dispense with File Open etc. as part of my overall goal of keeping Surfulater as simple and as uncluttered as possible.

For some, Surfulater starting up with MyKnowledge.Surfulater worked well and was all they needed, but for other the means to create and work with multiple Knowledge Bases was at best cumbersome. I misread the broad range of uses that Surfulater would be put to and the many different types of users at its helm. As a stop gap I added File|Set as Default, but in hindsight this was a mistake and I should have just gone ahead done things properly with File|Open.

When I sat down to work out how I would fit File|Open into the current design my prime objective was to ensure you could still start Surfulater with whatever Knowledge Bases you were using and get back into the flow as quickly as possible. I must say I’m pleased with the outcome. It feels much as it did before, with the big difference being that if you had say four knowledge bases open the last time you used Surfulater then those same four knowledge bases will be open this time around. This means you don’t need to go anywhere near File Open most of the time, which suits me just fine.

You will find more information in the release notes included in the Help along with the updated Help topic “Working with Files (new/open/close)”. One thing I forget to mention in this topic is the new Toolbar which has File|Open etc. Use View|Knowledge Base Toolbar to open this. If your screen is wide enough you can drag it and place it beside the main row of toolbars. I’ve also added a new Help topic Backing up my Knowledge Base which everyone should read.

Well that’s it for this release. Happy Surfulater’ing.

Surfulater V1.82, B0.0 released

It has been a troublesome few weeks with two people (Gad Chang and Bernard Jennings) reporting that Surfulater was crashing when they started it. First thoughts pointed to the possibility that another application had been installed and that had caused Surfulater to come to grief (usually referred to as DLL Hell), but this wasn’t the case. Problems like this can be very difficult to track down, because they usually can’t be reproduced by anyone except the person having the problem. There was nothing in Surfulater’s log file which gave me any clues either. Fortunately I had the thought that it may be something in the Knowledge Base files that was triggering the crash, so I asked for copies of the files to be sent to me and sure enough I was able to see the exact same crash. Continue reading “Surfulater V1.82, B0.0 released”

Surfulater V1.80, B0.0 released

Surfulater is very good at storing information and images from the Web and from other programs, but one thing that has been missing until now is the ability to store external files along with your Surfulater content. For example we’ve had requests to save PDF files, Word documents and ZIP files with Surfulater articles.

This latest release addresses this issue and lets you attach any files from your PC to Surfulater articles or folders. The attached file is permanently saved in your Surfulater database, so you have it available even if it gets deleted from your PC. And for folks that carry their Surfulater KB around with them, they can now carry these files around as well. Note that Surfulater compresses these files to reduce the amount of space they use.

For a complete list of changes in this release see the Release Notes in the Help or in our Support Forum.