Canaware NetNotes: capture web pages then store and edit them within a local knowledge base

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Canaware NetNotes is a free program that can capture web pages and stores and organizes them within a searchable, local knowledge base.

It can capture entire pages or individual elements such as paragraphs, images, or certain code snippets, and allows you to edit them using a full-fledged WYSIWYG article editor. It supports right-click browser integration with both Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Canaware NetNotes offers the solution to the problem of organizing all the information that we come across every day on the Internet. If you’re an organized person, you might bookmark/favorite a website if it holds valuable information or even funny material. If you’re like me, though, you’ll go through your bookmarks at some point and either (A) have no idea why you bookmarked a particular webpage or (B) find that the site no longer exists. Both of these scenarios are discouraging and puzzling, but they’re still better than the unorganized approach of hoping to find the information again with a web search later. Fortunately, NetNotes is an improvement on both cases and makes it easy to organize the information you come upon into a handy knowledge base.

canaware netnotes screenshot - browsersNetNotes creates a Library for you to collect all of this information. It holds static copies of websites, so you never have to worry about a server going down, but it’s also versatile enough where you can create a new article of your own and type in any information in a fully functional word processor. The small 2MB installer belies the functionality that really lies beneath with this program. Similar to a few commercial applications, like WebWhacker to name one, NetNotes gives you all the functionality for free. Integrating smoothly with Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, this app should find itself right at home for most users. If you find yourself on a webpage that you deem worth keeping, you can just right-click and select the ’Export to Canaware NetNotes’ option in the context menu. You can also highlight a portion of the page and then right-click on that selection and choose to export that portion to NetNotes.

canaware netnotes screenshot - clipboardaccessAfter selecting to export from IE, you’ll get a little pop-up requesting access to the Clipboard. The NetNotes website contains information about modifying your settings to get rid of this annoyance.

canaware netnotes screenshot - firefoxaddonThe IE context menu entry appears automatically with installation, but to get the same in Firefox you’ll need to install a little add-on at the bottom of the Canaware NetNotes download page.

Now that you’re all set up, just browse the web like normal. When you find something you want to archive, export it from your browser to NetNotes with the context menu option. You don’t have to have NetNotes running at the time. It will launch NetNotes to import the page you’re viewing and close again after it finishes that task. When the Import Article window pops up, it will be populated with the Article name, the web address, and the page content. You can edit any of these fields if you need to, enter keywords, and specify which library and folder the article will get filed under. At the bottom, you can also choose to include any attachments you want; the attachments you can select stem from the other pages that are linked to from the original page. Just click the Save button when the information is all filled out.

canaware netnotes screenshot - ImportedArticle

canaware netnotes screenshot - EditModeAt any point, if you want to get back to the live web-version of an archived article, you can just right-click on the entry and choose Navigate. This will launch the URL on file in your default browser. You can also trim down articles to reduce their size and make the information more relevant or add your own notes. Just switch to Edit Mode instead of the default View Mode using the icons in the toolbar.

After you’re in Edit Mode, you can add notes or delete components from the article. Just single click on an object and then hit the Delete key on your keyboard to get rid of it. You can also change the styling on the document to make words bold, italicized, etc.

canaware netnotes screenshot - EditDelete

You can right-click the Libraries pane on the left-side and create the directory structure you want. You can also create a new article on demand so you can type out your own info or paste in from another application, you aren’t limited to just importing from websites. The best thing about NetNotes, and the essential functionality for any knowledge base, is its ability to search the articles you archive. Choose your library and then click on the magnifying glass from the toolbar or select the Search bar in the left-pane to initiate the search. You can specify many criteria to make your search more comprehensive. You can search within the content, title, your comments or keywords, and select other options to narrow down your search results.

canaware netnotes screenshot - searchFrom my experience, the application uses about 27 MB on opening with the last open Library and climbed up around 40 MB of memory usage while I was flipping through articles. You can specify the location of each library when they are created. The files are stored much like a browser would save it. For each article, you will have an html page, a folder for any related images, and an .SXML file to list various properties of the article.

Wish list: (or how this program can be even better).

  • Addressing layout and exporting problems: on some pages you will notice a lot of overlap of different elements from the menu (on one site I grabbed it failed to grab the background image). However, when grabbing an article from my own site, it worked fine and looked identical to how it appears in a browser. My guess is that it all depends on how complicated the website and CSS is. Floating elements seem to give it trouble. This layout problem might also be related to another thing I forgot to mention: the security feature of stripping out scripts to prevent any malicious code from being stored locally. If Javascript is used to render a website’s layout, it might cause it to look like a mess in the exported version. As any webmaster can tell you, this is just another product of the nightmare of the Browser Wars and getting code to look perfect across multiple browsers with multiple versions. The removal of scripts, however, also means exporting YouTube and many other streaming videos is out of the question.
  • Portability: let me take the app and my libraries on a jump drive with me. (The interactions with IE and Firefox might be problematic, but I’d be able to refer to the info I’ve already gathered. Also, a portable Firefox might be able to solve that problem.)
  • Stability: although listed for Vista and Server 2008, NetNotes crashes for me in both operating systems. It works just fine in XP and Server 2003, which is where these screenshots are from.

The verdict: the best thing that makes NetNotes stand apart from other comparable programs is the editor functionality. This allows you to modify your page, remove all extraneous information, and clean up any elements that may be making a mess of the display. You can also add any comments or additional info in-line with the article, all of which other programs like Local Website Archive Lite and the Firefox add-on, Scrapbook, cannot do. I also prefer its interface over the others, but that’s just personal preference.

Version Tested: 5.1

Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista, Server 2003, Server 2008. Also requires Internet Explorer 5.5 or later or Firefox 1.0 or later.

Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 2.05 megs).