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Importing and exporting notes for a productive workflow
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Author:  Tim Kaye [ Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:20 am ]
Post subject:  Importing and exporting notes for a productive workflow

I am a law professor who converted to Linux Mint in the summer of 2011 because it (and the software that I installed on it) made me so much more productive. Accordingly, I regularly spend time in my classes encouraging students to try the same software so as to increase their own productivity. I was therefore intrigued by the announcement of the latest version of Uberstudent, since its objective is clearly to produce not just an operating system, but a whole suite of productive software that is ready for installation in one go. I applaud your initiative and, judging from my initial experiences of Uberstudent in a VirtualBox, what you have designed is very slick, works fast, and uses little memory. It is an impressive package!

Your choice of software is also very thoughtful, but I must nevertheless question one choice, because it seems to me to be central to the Uberstudent project. I am very surprised that you opted for KeepNote as your note-taking workhorse. CherryTree is clearly superior: it looks better, has superior import and export capabilities, is under much more active development (like you, Giuseppe Penone, the developer, is very responsive to user reports of any bugs), and (on my system at least) works faster.

But this takes me to what I see as the biggest stumbling block to your project. The three key tasks for any student of mind-mapping, note-taking, and writing remain in Uberstudent - as in all other off-the-shelf systems - essentially three isolated units. Where a project like Uberstudent could really stand out is if it were able to integrate them into a seamless workflow. That is now possible - but it requires the use of a note-taking program that is not free. That is NoteCase Pro. This can (a) import FreeMind, Freeplane and (my preference) XMind mindmaps and turn them automagically into outlines, and (b) export its own notes to both RTF and (my preference) LaTeX files for importing into LyX. (NoteCase Pro is superior to both KeepNote and CherryTree in other ways too.) This means that it is possible to move seamlessly from initial mind-map to final PDF, HTML, or e-book production without loss of content or formatting.

This sort of capability is certainly attractive to many people, as my students and colleagues will attest. I wonder whether it would be worth your while discussing with Miroslav Rajcic, NoteCase Pro's developer, whether that could somehow be included in a future release of Uberstudent. I am sure it would be worth everyone's while.

Author:  Stephen Ewen [ Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Importing and exporting notes for a productive workflow

Professor Kaye,

Thanks so much for taking the time to give your thoughtful comments.

I heartly agree with your view concerning the superiority of integrating mind-mapping, note-taking, and writing. In fact, I'd additionally like to see full bibliographic management integrated into the mix, so a student has a truly central point for doing the bulk of his or her work. Could Zotero, for example, cite into NoteCase, or most anything else? (Answer: Yes, it could, the pipes just need to be written.)

I looked closely at NoteCase when I was making UberStudent 0.9 about three years ago, and did open a dialog with Miroslav Rajcic at that time. I included a "lite" version of NoteCase in that version, as default, along with a hyperlink in the menu to obtain the full version. That was as far as things could wind up at that time. Your comments, however, have spurred in me some new ideas I'd like to submit to Miroslav. I promise I will write to him shortly after I get new 32-bit versions of UberStudent out (I'm testing a 32-bit build of the XFCE Edition presently, and am writing from it right now).

I looked closely at Cherry Tree when I released UberStudent 1.0 two years ago. I deemed KeepNote a better alternative at that time. Given your comments, it appears the former has undergone some hightened development since then. I'll take a new look at it as soon as I finish writing this. I can for sure attest to Giuseppe Penone's responsiveness as a developer. The reason X-tile works in UberStudent or in anything downstream of it is because I asked him for a fix to his program's AppIndicator docking behavior.

I will keep you posted on these matters and very much welcome your continued input. :)

Others reading this: what are your thoughts?

Author:  Stephen Ewen [ Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Importing and exporting notes for a productive workflow

CherryTree has not yet implemented spellchecking, although it is on the ToDo list. KeepNote does automatic spellchecking. That's really important, I think, especially before exporting notes as a PDF.

Zotero integration is also on the CherryTree ToDo list - very nice!

Author:  Tim Kaye [ Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Importing and exporting notes for a productive workflow

Thank you for your response, Stephen, and for taking another look at CherryTree. I agree with your point about spellchecking, though (so far as I can see) KeepNote doesn't provide the capability to export to PDF (or to RTF or LaTeX) anyway, whereas CherryTree does offer direct export to PDF, and NoteCase Pro offers all three. But of course it's up to you.

So far as integration of bibliographic management is concerned, I'd guess that really would be wonderful. But I'm probably not in the best position to comment on that, because legal formatting uses footnotes rather than bibliographies, and Zotero already works well in terms of providing legal citations in appropriate format with all three of these note-taking programs.

Author:  Stephen Ewen [ Wed Dec 12, 2012 7:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Importing and exporting notes for a productive workflow

While working the NoteCase angle, I plan to get involved with the CherryTree community to see if I can help move along spellcheck and Zotero integration, with the promise of potentially using the program as default in UberStudent upon the next release. :) I'll never, ever, ever prefer CherryTree's multi-colored cherries over multi-colored folders, though. :lol:

Author:  Stephen Ewen [ Fri Jul 12, 2013 9:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Importing and exporting notes for a productive workflow

UberStudent 3.0 now has a KeepNote extension that offers basic support for exporting KeepNote notebooks as a .mm file, which can be opened in Freeplane or any other mindmapping software than supports the format.

To get the extension, simply update your system. The package keepnote-helpers-ubderstudent will update with a new dependency, keepnote-freeplane-ext, which will install the extension into KeepNote. To use it in KeepNote, simply go to File > Export Notebook > Freeplane to export your notebook as a .mm (mind map) file that you can open in Freeplane.

Author:  ShAyanJameEl [ Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Importing and exporting notes for a productive workflow

I'd guess that really would be wonderful. But I'm probably not in the best position to comment on that

Author:  Abby M [ Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Importing and exporting notes for a productive workflow

Now I see why KeepNote was replaced with CherryTree in UberStudent 4.0 8-)

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