We received a few emails and comments lately asking why we have not been posting here in a while. Long time users probably know that our silence only means we are busy working on Notebooks, and it is no different this time. Still, it seems to be time for a news update, so here is a brief summary of what is currently going on.
Notebooks for Mac/Win
The desktop versions of Notebooks have been our main focus over the past weeks. We started our series of public betas more than two years ago, but now we are finally about to wrap up version 1.0, put an end to the sequence of beta versions and get Notebooks for Mac into the App Store (we will have an alternative for Notebooks for Win, of course).
There are one or two challenges left, but it seems these are just a matter of a few days. We have been receiving great feedback about the beta versions, so we are sure you will like the final version of Notebooks even more 😉
A word about timing: the current beta will start showing an expiration message early April. If the final version is not available until then, just click away that message, Notebooks will continue to work without limitations for another three months.
Notebooks for iPad and iPhone
Although our focus is on the desktop versions, we still spend time on the mobile versions of Notebooks as well. The lists of ideas, requests and todos is long, and the challenge is to carefully evolve Notebooks rather than overload it with options that intimidate users (we are pretty close to that anyway, I am afraid…)
Here is a selection of things we are working on:
- Improved PDF viewer with search and annotation is in the works. The rumors about iOS 8 and the built in Preview app suggests that iOS might improve its internal PDF handling as well, so we’ll see…
- Document encryption – especially when syncing to an external server – has been in the works for a couple of months already, but it is challenging. Not in a technical way, that is straight forward, but rather in daily use. Encryption in Notebooks is comparable to Filevault on a Mac, which encrypts each single document. Even on a fast Mac this can take a couple of hours, so how does that perform on an iOS device? That aside, each encrypted document then needs to be synced to Dropbox or your sync server. If you want to encrypt just a few documents this is not an issue, but how about a few thousand documents?
Later, when your documents are encrypted and synced, you decide to change your password: Notebooks needs to decrypt and re-encrypt all documents and then sync them all to Dropbox again. Your other devices need to import all changed documents too, so this is a major effort, nothing that is done in a few moments. – And yes, please don’t forget your password, because with encryption, we cannot help you any more…
So the main question is: do we (you) really need encryption in Notebooks? Dropbox encrypts your documents before saving them on their servers, and if you use your own WebDAV server (see below) you save your documents in your own environment anyway. It is true, your documents are unencrypted when Dropbox saves them on your computer, but it is your computer, isn’t it? On a Mac you can activate Filevault, and on any computer you can set a screensaver that asks you for your login after a couple of minutes, so there are options to keep your computer save. – And if the government wants access to your data, they have their tools…
- We are improving Dropbox sync by introducing background synchronization: Notebooks syncs with Dropbox even while you are using other apps, or when you are not using your iPad or iPhone at all. Notebooks also detects changes across all books on Dropbox, so there is no need to open each book any more. If you are editing documents while offline, Notebooks automatically syncs them the next time your device has an internet connection – even when your iPad or iPhone is still in your pocket.
We have been using this new sync method here for a few weeks, and what should I say, it is fantastic!
These are some of the major iOS topics we are working on, and there are many other, smaller topics as well.
WebDAV Server for Mac OS
As mentioned above, we are also (slowly) preparing a WebDAV server application. The intention is to provide you with a simple option to sync Notebooks with your own computer, in case you want to avoid cloud services. The server will be easy to use and require no installation (just double click an icon to start it), and best of all, it will be free!
So there are many things you can be looking forward to, and there is really no need to worry about the future of Notebooks.