LINUX PICKS AND PANS

Scribbleton Has a Ton of Potential

Scribbleton is a very infant — as in alpha — release of an innovative note-taking app for Linux that provides cross-platform access with Windows and Apple computers.It creates a personal wiki for storing everything from quick notes to detailed checklists to outlines. It creates links between pages in Scribbleton. Think of this as an easy-to-use database to create links between words, phrases and pages. You can just as easily use Scribbleton to store snippets or volumes of text and quickly locate cross-referenced information.

Scribbleton offers numerous export options, such as the ability to export individual pages or entire wikis. Its emphasis is on sharing data. For example, you can place a wiki file on a shared drive, and then access and edit the data in real time from any computer on the network.

It does not require a cloud environment — a convenience not always found with wiki products. Instead, the Scribbleton wiki files are stored on the user’s local machine. Nothing is sent to any outside servers.

Because Scribbleton does not require a cloud storage center, your personal information is kept both private and secure.

A wiki is a collection of information that is stored in a database but displays as a Web page. The structure enables multiple users to contribute or modify content. Some wikis require using a simplified Markup language in order to render the Web page display. Not so with Scribbleton.

It has text-editing menu options, much like a word processor. You can enter plain text and forgo the formatting. You can store your information without links much like you do with other note-taking systems.

Getting It

Version 1.1.0 alpha is only the third release of this infant project, but it’s pleasing how well put together Scribbleon is so early in its development. It is available in 64-bit and 32-bit Linux versions as well as a version for MacOS and Windows.

The download and installation process is relatively fluid. This is especially impressive for a young alpha product. The download proceeds without issues from the developer’s website. It is quick.

Extract the tar.gz to a location of your choice, but the download folder works fine. This creates a new folder with three subfolders.

Look and Feel

Scribbleton’s user interface is very similar to a text editor or tree-form note-taking application. Click on the File menu and select your desired activity. A list of pages forms a column down the left edge of the application window. A large page display fills the rest of the application window.

Scribbleton user interface

Scribbleton’s user interface is very similar to a text editor or tree-form note-taking application.

The color scheme so far leaves much to be desired unless you like a black-and-white motif. The page list column has a dark background with white text. The page display window has a white background. The page content shows in black letters.

A lighter gray background with white letters and icons forms the top of the menu and icon panels across the top of the application window.

The only splotches of color are a product logo with a light blue background and black image. The home page symbol in the page list is orange. All other page symbols are white. From a productivity perspective, this may not be a bad design. With no preferences to select, nothing in the Scribbleton scheme gets in your way as a distraction.

Scribbleton

Scribbleton has a very simple, colorless look and feel.

Using It

To run the program, go into the bin subfolder and click on the Scribbleton program file. That runs the screen in a window. From there you click on a link to create a new wiki or a link to open an existing wiki.

Click on New Page or use the keyboard combination CTRL-N and then click in the popup window to enter a page name. You also can click the plus icon at the top of the page list to create a new page.

I have a tendency to start typing once the new window opens. First, click the white field or nothing appears. This is definitely a function that needs to be changed. It is not intuitive.

The beauty of using a wiki system is that items you highlight on any page you create can easily be linked or unlinked to another page by clicking the link icon at the top of the page window.

Basic Layout

As with a text editor or word processor, you can modify or undo the appearance of text by highlighting words and phrases and clicking on the Format icon to select the desired modification.

Other options accessible by the icon bar at the top of the page are Back, Forward and Rename. A trash can icon at the far right of this row deletes the page.

A dropdown menu along the top left corner of the window provides traditional options with keyboard shortcuts or clicking for the formatting and editing commands. The Help menu does not work in this alpha release. It force closes Scribbleton. However, the application resumes in your last location when you restart it.

Scribbleton user menu options

User menu options in Scribbleton include a dropdown menu andkeyboard shortcuts for some, but not all, features.

A Few Caveats

You can export individual pages or the entire wiki. The only export options are HTML or text format. For most everyday personal uses, this should not be a concern.

A possible bigger concern involves the question of costs. One of the File menu options has a link to the website’s subscription page. Normally, open source projects are free to download and use.

It is unclear if Scribbleton is open source or just a veiled temporary freeware product. Under an open source license, users can opt to pay for technical support or subscription services — but no one should pay to use an alpha or beta prerelease version.

The developer’s website displays a donation appeal and request from Andrey Butov, lead developer, to make a donation to help support the development of the software, The prerelease price is US$15.

However, so far you can use Scribbleton without paying. No information is given about requiring a license to continue using it. Developers have not said if the beyond-beta release will be free.

Bottom Line

Scibbleton is usable in its current third alpha release. The ability to use this product as a note-taking tool or personal wiki tool makes it an inviting concept to watch. However, if the development team does not expand its feature base, Scribbleton will not be worth using at any price.

So far, Scribbleton is not in the same class as applications like Zim, KeepNote and Take-Note. Still, this latest alpha release shows that Scribbleton has some potential for innovative new features for both note-taking and wiki creation.

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Jack M. Germain has been writing about computer technology since the early days of the Apple II and the PC. He still has his original IBM PC-Jr and a few other legacy DOS and Windows boxes. He left shareware programs behind for the open source world of the Linux desktop. He runs several versions of Windows and Linux OSes and often cannot decide whether to grab his tablet, netbook or Android smartphone instead of using his desktop or laptop gear. You can connect with him onGoogle+.

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