Review of MyBase

This note taking program stores its notes in a database, however there is a save changes item in the file menu, I don’t know how often the database gets updated without using this menu item.  There was a noticeable slowing of the response times when using a file with over one thousand notes, especially when launching the program and saving a note.  There is also a limit of 300Mb on the size of the file, this is easy to exceed if you put all your notes in one database.

The answer is to split your notes into several databases but the problem with this is that MyBase cannot link a note in one database with a note in another database, this is a serious limitation. You can have more than one database open at once but you cannot create links between notes in different databases.

This program does not support universal links.

In some ways this program is the closest to being the perfect note taking program but it has some severe shortcomings with the way it fails to link things together which make it less useful than some of the less perfect programs.

The program costs $59 from the MyBase website (price correct at 14th June 2013).

Overall Score  = 41 out of 60

Verdict    So near and yet so far.

1. Connectivity            =    4

A number of different types of links are available but the program only supports these, it does not support universal links either in or out.  There is no way to create a link to a note in a MyBase database from outside the program.

You can insert a link to a file on the local file system, or to a folder on the local file system.  You can insert a link to another note in the database you are using but it cannot link a note in one database with a note in a different database.

You can create a link to a URL on the web or to a Mailto address, but it checks the format of these links rigorously and if you try to alter it to represent a universal link then the link is automatically converted to plain text and no longer functions as a link.

Each note can have a list of files attached to it, it can also have other notes from the same database attached to it as ‘Related Items’.  The attachments list also includes a list of symbolic links, these are the other places where this note appears as a transclusion and is automatically created.

The failure to be able to link things together is the most significant problem with this program, if this program did support universal links (supporting universal links into a database would automatically give it the ability to link to a note in a different database) then it would be the most awesome note taking program around and would blow away the competition.

But it doesn’t, oh well …

2. Classification            =    7

This is the only one out of the programs reviewed here to support hierarchical tagging.  In this program tags are called labels.  This means that there are two hierarchical trees.

The first one is called the outline and this is the same hierarchical tree which almost all of the note taking programs reviewed here have, but this one also supports transclusion (which they call Symbolic Links) so that a note may appear at more than one location.  No need to decide whether it is more appropriate for a note about the history of science to be filed under science or history because it can appear under both.  This is a really good feature.

The other tree is a list of tags or keywords, with many of the other programs if they have a tag list then it is a flat list.  But this program has a hierarchy of tags so you can have a tag for ‘science’ which is a sub tag of ‘physics’ if you define your tags like that.  Inheritance is not implemented but this is easy to do and actually gives you more control over how to tag something.  With a tagging scheme the note appears wherever it has been tagged in the tree, but it may appear many times.  No need to decide whether it is more appropriate for the note about the history of science to be labelled (tagged) as science or history because it can be labelled as both.

The point of tagging something is to find it again and so the search facilities are very important.  The search facilities in MyBase are not that good.  The advanced search has AND, OR and NOT for searching in the notes and in their titles but this does not apply to searching in the labels (tags), that is just a simple OR of any label you select, i.e. the note will be selected if it has any of the labels you selected to search for, this is not usually what you want.

You can also search within notes using ‘regular expressions’.

One interesting feature is the ability to search in the file attachments.  This searches in any file or web page that appears in the attachments list.

There are also facilities to search the local file system and to search for notes with a particular icon.  In short this program has a lot of search options but only a few of them are actually useful.

3. Text layout and formatting    =    7

The text formatting whilst not up to the standards of a word processor is quite good, all the usual effects can be applied, font, size, bold, italic, colour and line spacing.  Table handling is very rudimentary.  Pictures can be inserted into notes and re-sized.

4. A sense of time            =    8

This program has a calendar and you can link notes to specific dates.  You can set a reminder on a note so that you will be reminded of that note on the date which you set.  You can also set the reminder to repeat.

5. Ease of use            =    7

This is not the easiest of programs to use and it is certainly not very well documented.  The documentation (if you manage to find it) consists of one very long web page holding an incomplete version of a manual for one of the previous versions of the program.  This program is not very configurable.

One thing which you can change is the background colour and font of many of the panels in the interface.  This is useful to distinguish their functions, they all start off with a white background and a very small sans serif font which means that sometimes it is not obvious at first glance which panels you are looking at.  The different background colours solve this problem.

6. Visual Appeal            =    8

Not the best looking of the programs reviewed here but certainly not the worst.  The toolbars are a little too busy, but then there are lots of tools to display.

screenshot of MyBase

screenshot of MyBase

4 thoughts on “Review of MyBase

  1. Yikes :0
    No matter how many times I go through this – at least every other year if not every year – I seem to discover a whole new crop of so near yet so far results.
    What I should do is compile a list of critical needs. One or two you haven’t mentioned.
    * It has to auto repair internal links. Wiki’s are supposed to do that. Among these organizers Treepad X Enterprise does that very well.
    * It has to have fully manual control of links. A good wiki does that, and many organizers too.
    * I really like, but do I really need, or can I get it via a plug-in, a cool topic outliner? These products shine there (and I recommend HelpNDoc as a great free alternative).
    * It does everything accessibly to the main file system – or at the very least dump out to an html site and then reimport everything, files, pictures, etc … without a hiccup. I lament the loss of THEBRAIN development hell – it is designed using the main file system, but is not at all reliable. Treepad X Ent. exports and imports well. HelpNDoc I have not tested but I believe excels at this too.
    * Yes it has to support Javascript (TOC) WEB OUTPUT as a very minimum. HelpNDoc wins with many formats supported, followed by Treepad, with THEBRAIN already disqualified.
    * Please support the extended markup, add endnotes, popups, great tables, and slick html5. And build me an index – with that table of contents.
    For me, the question comes down to run a server based WIKI or use organizer output?
    And if server-based then you get the WP plug-in, versus MEDIAWIKI, and competing wikis.
    It gets to be a nightmare real fast. I’ve been telling Kurzweil the Golden Age would be like this.
    You have been most on-point – and I wonder if you can add anything to this list, and by all means something definitive of help.

      • Paul. very kind and appreciated. I’m going to give you my full thoughts on the future of these things, because I am in the struggle for a serious contender for a far better reconciled OS shell – and these are the thoughts I would like to share, that are relevant to what I have read on your site.

        The only thing that is certain is the rude shock of everything not on paper just disappearing one day. The entire age is defined by its chaos – which we call opportunity. Well, you said you can do abstract but like concrete – but those are the parameters. You emphasized essentially using OS standards, and this is because (if I may put thoughts in your mouth) the OS is the last vestige of any sense of standardization – until iOS and until Android. Had synchronization worked to any degree, had the cloud not been a total disaster between implementation and Eduard Snowden revelations – it would have exploded again already like a fragmentation grenade. Instead, we are getting a temporary respite.
        So I am at a loss because the only wise option seem to be to create for, and/or in, a server based app, (if on your local machine.) Eliminate the middle man entirely. The only wise option has to be at a sufficiently high context to be a meaningful choice over a sufficiently long period of time. Thus the support available to WP, and Media Wiki are obviously heavy factors in their favor.
        However, a lot of the essential features of information management must (I don’t use that word lightly) be enabled in the operating system, without a lot of stylistic and non-standard coding. Methods must be given equal consideration over “ease of use” because the rush to a sit-and-play mentality really creates nothing but endless redundancy and – chaos. It is precisely a standardized and fully competent means of managing information that we need – and while I am all for competition in middle-ware, as in alternative browsers, we should be creating on a far more capable level – just the chaos in using metatags at the file system level is a fine example of the impossible nonsense.
        The lack of granularity in information control tools and methods is crippling to our intention – surely. And by the way your settings to create impossibly long blog pages is one of those typical gaffs. Just don’t do it – one post = one page, please. We have multiple tabs to group just what we need which we cannot use on non-conforming sites. This is basic to keep your socks in one drawer and your plumbing and electrical somewhere else.
        So all of these programs are crippled out of the gate because they are dependent on insufficient infrastructure. Each one attempts to make up for it using hand-woven means. Each one faces a cacophony of problems trying to do so.
        For instance, why isn’t the Wiki database completely independent from the form of the data? Why does every wiki have to implement its own? How is this different from the pre-Windows text editors that had to implement drivers for each and every printer? If by keeping data accessible we simply had a wiki database LAYER with sufficient granularity (against the information) to define what we want and when we want it … most of these issues would go away. All of this is easily possible, but we are not collectively cognizant of that need.
        (I would definitely support competitive systems on a plug-in architecture basis.)
        The keyword to look for my system anytime is my name, Ion-Christopher, and ESIUXI – Emergent Synthetic Intelligence, User eXperience Interface. At present I am not maintaining any sites or blogs, but am seeding in this interesting new way on various aggregator channels. However – that will change. My system is pending book-length publications.

        Best wishes.

  2. Addendum
    HelpNDoc has link checking but not auto repair. That may actually be better because it includes universal links.
    The index – a great index would pretty much be that hierarchical tag system – but an index links to every occurrence of words – and associated words – in the text. It would be like a back-linking system in modern parlance.

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