Palm to iPhone migration is hard. In particular, what do we do with Tasks and Notes?
On the Task side we're waiting to see if either Apple decides to support Tasks (I guess their engineers are too young to have complicated lives), Google adds Tasks and iPhone sync, or OmniFocus supports import/export.
On the Notes side I took a look today at Evernote. Evernote follows the new model of web service, desktop app, phone support, and synchronization.
That's a tough development challenge, but it comes with a great business benefit. If customers don't keep paying, they lose access to their data.
I'm cautiously supportive of this model -- it means good developers can get predictable income without having to constantly obsolete existing software. On the other hand, there's a terribly powerful temptation to never quite build export capabilities. This produces Data Lock (see also: Data Lock search), an outcome that has sustained many a software empire. (To it's credit Google has been recently resistant, but maybe being ad supported and wealthy makes virtue easier ...)
The software as service solution means users need to examine and test export capabilities before they sign up with a service, and to retest regularly as the service evolves. If export starts to fail, bail.
So how does Evernote do?
I created a free account and downloaded the OS X desktop app to find out.
Sure enough, there's no import/export for OS X users. So that's a total fail.
Support has more information ...
Questions and Answers | Evernote CorporationThat's a total fail, even on the better supported Windows platform. The minimum requirement would be a tab delimited export (this would require some data loss since Evernote attaches binary data) and a comprehensive XML export from the Evernote database.
... Yes, you can import notes into Evernote for Windows in Evernote 2.x database (.enb), Evernote 2.x XML (.enx), and (in a future release) Evernote XML (.enx3) formats using the Note Import menu in Evernote Beta for Windows. There is also a Note Import Wizard menu for importing selected image, text, and HTML files. To get imported databases onto a Mac, first import the database into Evernote Beta for Windows, synchronize with the service, and then synchronize the Mac client with the service...
...you can export one or more notes from a notebook as an HTML formatted document from within Evernote for Windows using the Note > Export... menu. You can also export via e-mail using the Note > Send by Email... menu. This feature may be added to the Mac version in a future release....
So Evernote is not an option for my Palm to iPhone conversion, and I'd say it's not an option for anyone on any platform until they demonstrate Data Freedom.
Update: Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, responds in comments. Quote:
Data Freedom is vital to our plans. We're serious about Evernote as an "external brain" and that means users have to have confidence that their memories will always be accessible. Part of that accessibility is making sure that users can import/export Evernote data in standard formats with no restrictions. Our current limitations on import/export capabilities are due to developer resource constraints, not any philosophical or business reasons; we can't afford to do import/export poorly because that could muck with your data and flood our support lines. Doing it well takes time.Ok, I'm impressed. I revised the title of my post to "fails ... for now".
We're currently testing a full set of Evernote APIs that will give people a lot of options for getting data in and out. We'll roll these out publicly later in the summer. We'll also be expanding the structured import/export capabilities on the local clients, though I don't have a specific date on that yet. We're doing this because data freedom is good for more than just peace of mind - it'll let us build lots of great functionality that we couldn't accomplish with a "walled garden" approach.
I'm glad you like Evernote enough to try it and I hope you take a look at our import/export capabilities once we launch them.
If Evernote really does deliver on their Data Freedom promises, I'll be a happy paying customer.
Update 7/27/08: I'm warming to Evernote as I make my painful adjustment to the iPhone. In fact, I expect to become a paying customer it it continues to work as well as it has today.
Evernote appears on initial iPhone tests to have significant value as a transient repository. I send things there I'll process later, including voice notes that may turn into tasks, notes, etc. Thing's I'd have once scrawled on my Palm screen as "ink" work better as Evernote sound fragments with optional metadata.
As a transient repository data lock is not an issue, and if Phil is able to deliver on his data freedom promises it will have more value. The key for me is that it has real value now.
Update 8/17/08: I find this post from 2005:
I, too, was waiting eagerly for the web clipping function to be enabled for Firefox. Wait no longer ..
..Now, I’m waiting (im)patiently for some kind of export feature! Evernote obviously is a database, so I’m thinking an export to a comma-delimited file, or a spreadsheet would be nice.
Update 10/3/08: Evernote has reformed, and Phil Libin has credibility again. They have an API and XML import/export. It's not the simple tab delimited format anyone can use, but that format is a poor match for Evernote's data complexity. Full credit for turning the corner!