Review of Personal Knowbase

This note taking program is file based, that is it stores its data in files.  There was no significant slowing of the response times when using a file with over one thousand notes.  This program only allows one file to be open at once.

This is an unusual program, there is no hierarchical tree just a flat list of notes.  If no selections have been made then it is a list of all the notes in the file.  You can display a subset of the notes by selecting keywords or by selecting one of the queries you have made.  The idea is that you refine the subset until it only contains the notes you want or until the set is small enough to make a manual selection of a specific note.

Personal Knowbase does its classification and selection of notes better than most of the other programs, the trouble is that it does not do very much more than this, in that respect this program is a one trick pony but it does do that trick very well.

Personal Knowbase costs $49.95 and is available from http://www.bitsmithsoft.com/product.htm with a 30 day free trial version.  There are other programs available for a comparable price which do everything that Personal Knowbase does (except for the tagging system not being as good) plus they do a lot more, WhizFolders and Memo Master instantly spring to mind.

Overall Score = 33 out of 60

Verdict    Not worth the money.

1. Connectivity            =    5

Within the text you can embed links to a web page or a file or another note in the same file as you have open.  In addition to this each note may have one ‘attachment’ which is a link to a file or web page, the ‘attachment’ does not appear in the text.  Personal Knowbase does not support universal links and there is no way to link to a note in a different file to the one you are using.

2. Classification            =    10

Personal Knowbase has the best tagging system of any of the programs reviewed here.

In Personal Knowbase there is no hierarchical tree just a list of notes.  You can select what appears in the list using queries or building up a selection on the fly.  These selections are not as sophisticated as what is possible with the query builder, they only use a simple AND or OR, if you select AND then a note has to have all the keywords selected before it will appear in the list, if you select OR then a note will appear in the list if it has any of the keywords selected.

The keywords are in a flat list.

Very sophisticated queries are possible using the query builder which is a dialog box where you select keywords with AND, OR, NOT and brackets, the query builder automates the process for you and it is very easy but you can still type in the query if you want.  Once you have built your query and verified that it works you can save it and give it a name.  It then appears on one of the menus giving you instant access to all the queries you saved.

3. Text layout and formatting    =    4

Personal Knowbase does not support tables.  There is some basic formatting of text, you can select the font, colour, size, italics, underlined and bold.  Personal Knowbase cannot embed pictures within a note.

4. A sense of time            =    0

Personal Knowbase does not have a sense of time.

5. Ease of use            =    7

This program is fairly simple and easy to use because it is not very complex.  This is both an advantage and a disadvantage.  What it does it does very well but it does not do that much.  This is fine if it does what you want it to do.  There is very little configurability about this program.  You can drag the toolbars about but that’s about it on the configuration front.

6. Visual Appeal            =    7

The look and feel of this program is quite retro.  The screen layout is good with very little wasted space.

Personal Knowbase screen shot

Personal Knowbase screen shot

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2 thoughts on “Review of Personal Knowbase

  1. Thanks for the review of Personal Knowbase. I’ve had a license for over ten years, but have rarely used it, because I don’t find it as user friendly as it could be. For instance, closing and saving the currently open article — you have to click on the little X box in the upper right corner and you better not accidentally click the X button for the whole database, which is right next to it. Small details like that. And really the application hasn’t been significantly updated in five or more years. CintaNotes works similarly, does more and is a lot cheaper.

    • Thanks for the comment Steve.

      There seems to be no significant development taking place on this program, the recent updates (last three years) all seem to be bug fixes and minor tweaks. But they do have a PR person on the forum replying to all the suggestions for features by saying what a good idea the suggestion is and that she will pass it on to the development team. But nothing ever seems to come of it.

      Yes I do have a bad case of CRIMP so I have many note taking programs, mind mapping programs and PIM programs lying about. In my opinion Personal Knowbase is a dead end.

      I had a look at CintaNotes some while ago and decided it wasn’t for me.

      Currently my main tools are Memo Master working alongside Essential PIM Pro and ConnectedText. This seems to work well, everything can be linked to everything else and I have not felt the need to change or ‘improve’ things, so this could be a cure 🙂 .

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