Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Google Notebook Adds Labels

When I reviewed Google Notebook a year and a half ago, I liked it a lot with one big exception: it didn't have labels/tags. Instead you had to put everything into individual notebooks. Finally, the labels feature has been added and now I highly recommend using Notebook for all of your note taking needs. I still have a few gripes (see below) that need fixing, but once they do that, this tool will completely rock.

Besides adding labels, they also integrated Google bookmarks into Notebook, which seem strange to me, but I don't use Google bookmarks. They are also adding offline access via Gears soon which will be a nice feature if you are using a laptop without Internet access.

More reporting on the new version of Google Notebook can be found at Google Operating System and Google Tutor.

And in the hopes that the Notebook team reads blogs, here are my suggestions for improvement:

Google Notebook Website

  • The "Tools" button should have the same options if you have selected a label (or if you have done a search) as if you have selected a notebook. In particular having a "Expand all notes"/"Collapse all notes" option would be very useful. The ability to have a print view and export to Google Docs would also be nice.

  • Adding labels to notes needs some help.
    • Sometimes labels are above the box and require an up arrow to select and sometimes below and require a down arrow. Make it consistent.
    • Highlight the first label so you can just hit enter to choose it rather than requiring you to first use the down arrow to select it.
    • The tab key should select the highlighted label (makes it consistent with Blogger).
    • You shouldn't be able to add the same label to a note twice (once selected, that label should no longer appear in the list of possible options).
    • After adding a label, don't automatically show the list of labels. Instead wait until a letter is typed. This way if you are done adding labels, you don't have to hit enter twice (once to get rid of the list and once to save) to finish.

  • On the left hand side of the screen, make the label box bigger if you have lots of labels and not many notebooks. Add the ability to sort labels alphabetically, by date or by number of posts.

  • Keyboard shortcuts would be very handy. In particular I would like to see them for:
    • To move from one note to the next (maybe a j/k setup like Google Reader)
    • Add/edit label
    • Add/edit comment

  • Add advanced search functionalities (this is Google for God's sake).
    • Ability to search the URLs of posts, the comments, just the titles, or just the body.
    • Ability to search inside a particular notebook or only posts that have a particular label.

  • Add the option of adding a label to multiple notes at once. Probably not a big deal, except right now when I am trying to add labels to all of my notes.

Firefox Extension
  • Make the size of the box bigger, or make the size adjustable. It is just too small to view the note once you add it. I know there is a pop-out box feature, but I don't want to use that.

  • When you switch from "add comment" to "add labels", the cursor does not stay in the box and you have to click in the box with your mouse. Because the comments box is selected by default when you add a new note, this happens every time with a new note.

  • To add a note, go back to the "clip this" rather than the star. The star is not intuitive, so you need to put the "What's this" next to it and together they take up more space than a "clip this" button.

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