in iPad

Yojimbo 1.0 for iPad – a quick review

I have decided that in general I should write quick reviews of items rather than spending ages agonising about them, since in general this means the reviews never end up being published, as I lose interest. So: Yojimbo 1.0 for the iPad. No, this is not about ink or pens or paper.

Some screenshots with notes:

And the bullet point review:

  • Data from your Yojimbo library syncs with this over wifi, much like Things does (or lots of apps really). Syncing is pretty quick. My whole library transferred over in a couple of minutes initially and it updates if running and connected to your network.
  • It’s fast to access items as well; they pop up nice and quickly when selected.
  • It is read only (at this time – there is a hint on the iTunes page that it might support editing at some point but BareBones never tells you when updates are likely to come for any software). If you want to add or edit notes, even plain text ones, this is not what you want. There is also absolutely no point in buying it unless you also not only have Yojimbo but use it. I personally have over 1,500 items in my database of varying types, so this is quite a useful reference tool for me, but I admit I was slightly miffed initially, particularly as it isn’t cheap – £5.99.
  • It supports both tag collections and standard folders, as well as the standard built-in collections like “Unsorted Items”.
  • You can search title, tags and full contents. Title and tag searches are pretty swift. Full contents searches are extremely slow – don’t use that except in emergencies.
  • For some reason, bookmark items in Yojimbo are automatically loaded as pages when you try to access them, which doesn’t happen in the desktop app. I think it should follow the behaviour of the desktop here and only load the pages if you deliberately tell it to.
  • Syncing requires Yojimbo 3.0, which is a free upgrade from 2.x and the same price as a 1.x upgrade, so I’m a bit puzzled as to why it is a point version, but anyway: you can’t sync with Yojimbo 1.x, so upgrade if you want to use this app.
  • One of the big advantages of Yojimbo, that individual items can be encrypted rather than the whole library, is retained.

Why would you want this app? Reference basically, in my opinion. If you keep random notes and research material and images in desktop Yojimbo, which I do, this is a handy way of accessing them. There’s nothing you can’t do here with other apps – you could store PDFs and images in Dropbox or on iDisk and access them easily – but if you’re a Yojimbo user you presumably prefer to gather this content using Yojimbo. Syncing is also very quick and you don’t need to download the items from the net, just locally sync before you set out.

What it isn’t: a notebook app. It’s read-only. If you’re writing a novel, store your research notes on this, don’t expect to be able to edit the chapters. Editing may come at some point but there’s no way of knowing when – as mentioned, BareBones doesn’t provide updates as to progress and rarely on future directions. There was one mention of an iPad version on the Yojimbo mailing list a long time ago, and today’s release is the first thing I’ve heard about it since that point.

If you’re looking for a notebook app, there are quite a few already around, but none of them sync particularly well with desktop apps, possibly for reasons of general cross-platform compatibility. (I hate Evernote. Don’t talk to me about Evernote.) This was why I wrote the Simplenote/Yojimbo Sync script which results in most of the hits here. The main thing that I’m waiting for in this area is the Circus Ponies Notebook iPad client, which has been described as “nearly finished” and supporting effectively all of the functionality of the desktop program, which would be an impressive feat.