EagleFiler

Wars are not over in Information Managers land: Michael Tsai has released EagleFiler (via John Gruber) which, at first glance, looks really really REALLY similar to Yojimbo or SOHO Notes or what-have-you.

Since that, contrary to what I said earlier, I’m not completeley sold on SOHO Notes yet (I just realized there are NO SMART FOLDERS, which are very useful in organizing automatically your stuff), I’m going to try and use this one for a while.

First impression is not so good: the app opens a rather useless “Drop Box” window (when dropping on the app window itself is just as convenient), dropping a folder full of PDFs on EagleFiler just confused it on the first try – on the second it was fine (?)… And watching PDFs directly in the app will involve a lot of zooming in, as by default all the page is displayed, which is not so convenient for some uses (see the screenshot).

EagleFiler

Note there’s no controls for the PDF view! You can go through pages with keyboard shortcuts, but still surprising. The app also does not open the last opened library on startup (you have to hunt for it in File/Opened recent)… None of this is configurable, AFAICT. Minor gripes: the app is very slow to start up and not very fast after. Closing the window closes the database (which is understandable since the app is document-based, Mori does the same thing. But still). The error window is too obstrusive for my tastes. It won’t let me (and you) import unusual file formats. You can insert RTF notes in the database, but not edit them right in EagleFiler – double-cliking opens them in TextEdit.

On the bright side, the tags management is interesting – tags are not free-form, like in del.icio.us or journler, but you have to select them from a user-modifiable list. When you enter a new tag, a smart folder containing all the posts thusly tagged is automatically created. You get hierarchical folders AND smart folders, and if you select many their combined content is displayed. There’s also the fact that the document Library is actually browsable in the Finder – you can move around PDFs or notes and EagleFinder will reflect it in its interface. Unsure if that’s useful in real life, but comforting. EagleFiler can also import from Mail on a mailbox basis, retaining attachments, reply/forward status (nice!) and tags created with MailTags! Only relevant to a few people, but it will make them very, very happy. Labels are synchronized with the Finder’s.

Some of these little touches are nice (mail importing is especially polished and great for archiving), but all in all I’m not sure what EagleFiler brings to the already full landscape of information managers on mac. If I had to say one thing, the library management seems very robust and reliable, so folks concerned about the integrity of their data could like it. On the other hand, I had a crash in the first 10 minutes of use.

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6 Responses to EagleFiler

  1. Michael Tsai says:

    Thanks for the feedback. Would you prefer if the PDF view remembered the last zoom setting? I plan to make the Drop Pad more useful in a future release. There are menu commands for the PDF view, and you can also add them to the toolbar. Tags can be free-form if you add them using the Info inspector.

  2. vnoel says:

    Hey Michael,
    nice to see you listen to comments :-)

    Having the app remember the last PDF zoom setting would be nice indeed.
    I tried to add zoom commands to the toolbar, but I found out they don’t work with plain images (PNG/JPEG etc)… On the tags front, I actually like the fact they’re not free-form – it imposes some organization on the data.

    Two other things I’d like to see : automatic opening at startup of the database that was opened on last EagleFiler shutdown ; RTF editing directly in EagleFiler (rather than going through TextEdit). I’m not sure how you feel about that last bit – it seems to me like you didn’t include it intentionally, so you may have your reasons to avoid that feature.

    Anyway, EagleFiler has a lot of competitors that do more-or-less the same thing, so my feeling is that what makes an app stand above the others is the attention to details. Yojimbo did this right, but to succeed in that regard they had to cut short on features… so there’s room for a pro version :-)

  3. Michael Tsai says:

    Image zooming, remembering open libraries, and inline editing are on my to-do list. There’s a lot of features and polish that I would have liked to put in 1.0, but at some point you have to ship. Now I see that other people have some different priorities than me. There are some things left out of 1.0 that I thought were very important, but that no one else has yet requested. Other things which I thought would be nice but not essential strike other people as glaring omission. So I’m reshuffling my to-do list to address the most common requests first.

  4. Vincent says:

    Great news :-)

    At the same time, I’m not sure if I’m really part of EagleFiler’s target demographic – there were some very good reviews of EagleFiler (e.g. Daring Fireball or Tao of Mac) so you must obviously be doing something right. Maybe the happy crowd is currently silent, and would be even happier with the improvements you had previously planned for 1.0.
    I’m just saying – if you had a vision of what EagleFiler should be, maybe you should stick to it and pay only moderate attention to random guys ranting on the web like me ;-)

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