As a developer, I spend a good deal of time searching for tools that will allow me to be more productive and improve the quality of the code I produce. As a Microsoft .NET developer, using Visual Studio .NET is a given. The other essential tool for me is not a developer tool. It's much more than that. It goes by the name of Evernote.
How do I begin to describe what it is and what it does? This post will give you some information about the tool itself. Evernote (www.evernote.com) is an information manager that gives you multiple ways to capture information. That is the key for a product like this — the easier it is to capture, the more information you'll be likely to record. Currently, client support includes Mac OS X Leopard, Windows, iPhone/iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile and the web browser. This is especially important if you find yourself using multiple platforms as the information is synchronized (if you choose) via Evernote's servers. In my case, I use Windows machines at work, Macs at home and I always have my iPhone at my side. No matter which device I am currently on, I have access to the exact same information.
The type of information that you can store is almost unlimited. You can use it as a notepad replacement, paste text from a webpage or Word document, take a photo with your phone, add a voice memo or even attach a PDF. In fact, I've been writing this blog post using Evernote. I started it at work, added to it on my phone while waiting for an appointment and finished it up at home. An information manager would be of no use if it didn't make it easy for you to retrieve your information.
Evernote gives you a few different ways to organize things. You are free to use any combination of these methods and I'm sure everyone will have a slightly different system that works for them. The most basic organizational unit is the notebook. This is a container for your notes. A note can only belong to a single notebook but you may have multiple notebooks. You can also tag your notes with keywords. These keywords are attached to the individual notes so the same keywords can be used in notes in different notebooks.
To me, Evernote's most powerful feature is the search. This quickly searches through all your notes including text within PDFs. It takes it one step further by doing character recognition on images. For example, if you attached an image of a T-shirt with the letters ABC on it, Evernote would most likely be able to find it and return it as a result from a search for "ABC." I have found that it is quite accurate with my printing — not sure about writing as I almost never write.
Did I mention Evernote is free? This gives you a limit of 40MB upload. A premium account is available for $5 USD per month or $45 USD per year that increases the upload limit to 500MB. It also allows you to upload any type of file, adds SSL encryption and collaboration features.