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NoteCase: Much More Than a Mindless Text Drone

By Jack M. Germain
Feb 17, 2010 5:00 AM PT

To be really useful, a note-taking program needs more than the ability to simply put letters on the screen. It requires a database mentality with a quick and simple user interface. NoteCase Manager is designed with all the features needed to be a true digital note-processing system.

NoteCase: Much More Than a Mindless Text Drone

NoteCase Manager
NoteCase Manager
(click image to enlarge)

I tend to be finicky when it comes to note-taking programs. Typically, this app category is filled with programs that offer little more than basic text entry and a titling system. NoteCase Manager combines the best features of text editors with outline traits that help to maintain the flow of information, store it and retrieve it.

In order for me to live and work well in Linux, I had to be sure that my vast pseudo-database of notes, contact info and research data was transferable from Windows. I had used a very workable program in Microsoft Land called "EverNote," which met all of my requirements and then some. I got that program to run in Linux using Wine because it had versions for only Windows and the Mac OS X operating systems.

As useful as EverNote was in organizing my notes, I stumbled upon NoteCase Manager and soon decided to use it as a replacement. Its features surpassed those of Evernote. Plus, NoteCase Manager is a true Linux app that does not need Wine to run.

Outliner Plus

NoteCase is well-known in the Linux/Unix world. It's included in at least nine distros as part of the default setup. Many of the distros that do not include NoteCase as a default offering include it in the package management repository.

An outliner program, it stores notes as separate files in a hierarchical manner. This hierarchy is displayed in a tree window within an adjustable panel on the left. Each note is referred to as a "node," as it is also a node within a tree of notes.

Two main parts comprise each note. Part one is the note title and is visible in the tree window. Clicking on a title displays the full note. The second part is the note itself. When the title is selected, the note is visible for viewing and editing in the main window on the right.

Notes can also contain other details, such as customizable text formatting for fonts. These include bold, italic, strike-through, text and background color. Setting these traits in NoteCase is much like using similar features in text editors and word processing programs. Just drop down the edit menu and select the desired treatment.

Users can supplement notes with file attachments and links to other notes or URLs. This is a really cool way to store information. One of the most useful features is the ability to embed pictures in the text note. These are powerful features that are not usually found in other tree-type note managers or outline programs.

Getting Around

Navigating within the hierarchy of notes is a joy in NoteCase Manager. Options are cleanly presented in logical lists as drop-down menus under standard menu headings such as File, Edit, View Tree and Format.

Many of these menu commands have shortcuts associated with them for even greater efficiency. A nifty shortcut editor makes for quick set up.

A row of icons adds to the navigational ease. These are pretty standard and cover most of the usual file commands. For example, you can click icons for opening nodes and files, saving the current note file and saving the file as a different name. Other icon commands are redo and undo, cut, paste and delete.

Icons also let you execute text-formatting commands such as bold and italic, underline and strike-through. Other icons in the row call upon the link and picture insert wizards.

More Features

NoteCase Manager handles unencrypted and encrypted document formats. Also supported are multiple text node operations. The program imports file formats that include the unencrpyted format for NoteCenter, gjots2 documents (requires .gjots2 extension on document), StickyNotes files, XML documents (requires .xml extension on document) and MM/LX documents.

NoteCase has multiple levels of undo/redo and drop-and-drag for tree node reordering. It also can export documents or nodes to another document, text or HTML file.

Convenience Counts

More so with a note-taking program than with a plain text editor, entering notes must be fast and easy. This is an area where NoteCase excels. Its menuing system is well thought-out. You open up a new node or view an existing one much as you would in a text editor or word processor.

Similar to viewing a content directory, note titles are visible along the left panel, and the content of the highlighted note is displayed on the right. No size limits are imposed. So printed materials and embedded graphics can be quite detailed and voluminous. Specific details can be located quickly by using the search for and find next options under the Edit drop-down menu.

New nodes start with the click of an icon. A recent file list is under the File menu. The last file opened can be displayed at startup. The text wrapping option can be applied from a menu or a hot key.

One of the more useful aspects of working with NoteCase is the ability to open multiple files simultaneously. This lets me view more than one detailed note from the same related tree branch. Especially when I am looking for information from more than one unrelated topic, I can view notes from different branches, each in its own window.

Do not settle for an ineffective work-around such as saving separate documents in a directory or stockpiling your information in confusing database apps. NoteCase Manager keeps notes as separate pages in a notebook. However, those pages are bound through a tree structure that makes managing multiple sources of notes efficient and effortless.

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