The rumors started about a few weeks ago or so: Springpad will be closing shop around the end of this month. Sad news, especially because not too long ago a similar (great) app called Catch Notes went the same way. There are many voices stating that there are better alternatives around. The most heard name is Evernote, with OneNote as close second, but are those really alternatives? I would say no, because apps like Springpad and Catch did cater for a very specific use-case. The real sad thing is that those projects where (or will be) shut down because they couldn’t compete against Evernote and the likes, while for most users exactly the fact that they where NOT like Evernote was the main driver in choosing and using those applications. It’s a grim fact that these projects fall victim to competitors that actually can not replace them.
I came across Catch Notes not too long ago. I had just started using it on a serious scale when the hatchet came down. It took me a great while to find a useful replacement, but I did find it in Springpad. Even so much that Springpad heightened my productivity by fitting snuggly into my work-flow for Personal Knowledge Management. And now that one will go away as well, again just shortly after I completely switched over to it. Moving house every time this happens is getting tiresome, and it seems there’s no remedy against it, short from hosting your own solutions and staying independent from any externally hosted solution. Even choosing the almighty Google to host your notes and other scraps, has proven to be pretty uncertain, as Google makes it a habit to shut down such applications at will when the related internal staff somehow seems to vanish… or for even less. Currently their ‘thing’ is called Keep, and although it is a neat little notes app, it can’t hold a candle against Springpad and the likes.
Springpad was certainly a ‘killer app’ in that it catered for ‘notes’ in all kinds of scenarios. It combined web-clipping, note-taking, sharing and collaborating, and off-line access (through the mobile apps) into one very useful mash-up. Also, its user interface seemed well thought out and very inviting. The real advantage however, was its ability to add all kinds of related information to your notes. Currently I don’t see a real alternative available. Many will migrate to Evernote (note: the Springpad tool for migrating to Evernote seems broken to me, none of my pictures are showing up visible in Evernote), and Microsoft’s OneNote will get some new users from Springpad as well. For me, both don’t really cut it as a Springpad replacement; OneNote is just to cumbersome for quickly adding small notes, while Evernote is just bloated in so many ways it is not funny. At least they live up to their logo.
So what to do now? I’m currently testing Trello, but it seems obviously more geared towards project management than managing notes. Although it does have a note-based work-flow and it might be possible to bend it into submission. Then there’s Quip; it has a work-flow that is pretty close to what I need, but it also has some chatting interface embedded into the notes system. I’m not yet sure if I like it or not.
So what is your choice of app for note taking? Did you use Springpad, and if so, what are you migrating to?