Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Tomboy Online Mockup

Ellery caught me sketching out some mockups for a hypothetical Tomboy Online service. She took pity on me and sketched up something more presentable (click for larger version):


The idea is pretty simple. Somewhere out there (maybe on online.gnome.org?) you have an account for synchronizing your Tomboy notes. It's cool because you get free storage space for your notes without having to set up your own server. Then you can use Tomboy's new note synchronization feature to sync your notes to/from that server. The bonus aspect is the web app shown above. Features include:
  • Ability to read all of your notes from any web browser on any computer when you log in.
  • Notes maintain their formatting, tags, links (URLs and links to other notes), etc.
  • You get your Recent Notes menu just like in real Tomboy, including note pinning.
  • You can search your notes, or browse by date or tag, just like in real Tomboy.
  • By default notes are private, but you can make any note public to allow your friends to see it (see the lock icon on the note?).
  • From your Tomboy Online page, you can see new public notes from your friends in the Friends sidebar.
  • Notes can be printed in a nice format.
  • You can download any note (yours, a friend's, whatever) in its native .note format, which automatically imports the note into real Tomboy.
I think this service would be an awesome addition to the Online Desktop initiative. The mockup is very Tomboy-centric, but in reality this could be integrated into something like Mugshot or another existing service.

What do you guys think? I'd love to work on something like this during the next development cycle. We just have to solve the infrastructure problems, and it seems like the Online Desktop guys are interested in helping us out.

And before you ask...I don't think online note editing is a short-term goal here. I don't really want to rewrite Tomboy for the web. :-)

11 comments:

FiveStringB said...

Sweetness! I think this would make Tomboy much more usable for the masses. And, unfortunately, I do think that we'll have to have online editing. There may be a whole new set of users who'd use just the online version. Awesome mockup!

Sandy said...

FiveStringB: Yeah, I think you're right. As soon as users can see their notes up there, they're going to wonder why they can't edit them (and then switch to another service).

It would be pretty neat if each note had a little "edit" button/link on it, and when you click that the signature Tomboy editing toolbar slides in under the note titlebar.

I think we could offer most Tomboy editing features easily, though maybe autolinking would have to wait until a "save".

Still, I think the incremental approach of...

1. Find free server for users to sync notes to.
2. Build web app to let users see those notes from the browser.
3. Add note editing capabilities.

...makes sense.

The cool thing about this is that we would be attracting an entirely different breed of developers/contributors to help us out. I'm sure Tomboy could benefit from a fresh perspective.

S├ębastien said...

Great !

however, (my) useful notes often integrate links to files (pictures, some pdf ).

For their online version to be useful, these files should be online too. So maybe we need to embed some files to the note (like attachement).

Sandy said...

Sebastian: Excellent point! Perhaps if we use Online Desktop, those files will already exist on the same server? Otherwise, embedding would be a cool option.

gaute said...

great idea, hope it (the service) isn't going to snook arond in my private notes to provide me with 'interesting' links.

one could name a few other popular services that has these features..

- gaute

Sandy said...

@gaute: If this service was part of Online Desktop, I don't think you'd see any of that sort of stuff.

Though I don't see anything wrong with targeted advertising as long as it's completely anonymous (and not irritating). That's not really any more invasive than a virus scan.

gaute said...

@sandy: i would neither expect it, but as a principle my private data should not be used in any way i don't approve of or are forced to to be able to use the service.

there could be an option: "do you want to support gnome/online desktop/tomboy by allowing us to display relevant ads based on an anonymous analysis of your stored data"

by using already existing ad services like google's you would allow them too to access your personal data (always anonymously of course, but who is checking?).

this is one of the (negative) general trends i have seen many places on internet, often used very aggresivly.

maybe, if this ever becomes an option, limiting it to your public notes would be an idea (if the user wants of course).

- gaute

Faizi Crofts said...

I had the same epiphany last night almost exactly in many respects. As far as editing goes:

Let them edit, but monitize it with ad-sense to fund the tomboy or gnome project.

Also- under no circumstances should a "save" feature exist. Does Tomboy proper have a save option? Nope- it saves as you create like a palm pilot. So should the online service (with a little help from from the AJAX ferry).

Here's another couple of wrinkes. All notes upon creation are private by default. Publicising (sharing) appends a 'p' to the tittle. This does two things. It harmlessly adds the public indicator to the local note once synced, and conversely alows you to publish notes right from within tomboy merely by appending a p to the title of a note. Or if you prefer (to protect the integrity of the titles and linkages) line two could have some character it looks for - a p or something else all alone on the line.

On all public notes, linkages to other public notes retain while linkages to private from public dissappear. You have the makings of a great- simpler wiki system.

Finally- tomboy mobile. But of course my epiphanies are so obvious others have the same ideas more or less.

Note: The Mockup is good- there is just too much realistate taken up though. I indicated monitizing with add banners- none-the-less overall, the page should be overwhelmingly bare and clean and respond to shortcuts as part of the interface just like the real app. In neerly no way should the web app interface differ from the local desktop app.

Dag said...

I wanted to be able to see my tomboy notes in my Iphone, so I wrote tomboy-web that publishes all my tomboy sync folder on a web page as a list that can be clicked to see a note. Just use the Tools/Synchronoze Notes to publish to the web.
Its a java web application that can be run in any web app server like tomcat. See http://code.google.com/p/tomboy-web.

/Dag

Faizi Crofts said...

Zimbra should write a tomboy mashup / sync module. How wonderful that would be.

Bergie said...

I've been looking at making a Midgard component to provide this online service.

Some initial stubs can be found from:

http://trac.midgard-project.org/browser/trunk/midcom/org_gnome_tomboy

The hope is that in addition to Tomboy, the same online service would also support conboy-midgard for Maemo.