Stuck on Stickies

StickiesI’ve been looking for a good replacement for Stickies, the free Post-it Note-like application that’s been a part of the Macintosh for years. I use it to capture random bits of information, from URL’s and serial numbers to code snippets and lorem ipsum text, but I also need search-ability across notes, which Stickies does not offer, and, less urgently, the ability to assign meta-tags to each note. There’s no shortage of software in this all-purpose information organizer category, but I’ve yet to find the perfect application.

I’ve looked at NoteTaker from AquaMinds, which has generated a lot of buzz lately, as well as its cousin, NoteBook from Circus Ponies, both descendants of Millenium Software Labs’ NoteBook for NeXTSTEP. They are probably too powerful for my needs, and their interfaces adhere too slavishly to the spiral bound notebook metaphor. I’ve also looked at Xnippets, but its hierarchical emphasis prevents me from creating scattered notes: there’s something satisfying about the ability to just plaster Stickies notes all over the screen.


At first blush,StickyBrain is very close to what I’m looking for. It allows search-ability across notes and meta-tags, and has several other fairly powerful features that are not on my must-have list, but might be handy: tabs, pre-formatted to-do lists, background textures. But the program is not without its imperfections.

Anti-Aliased Text in StickyBrain and Stickies

Its worst offense is its handling of anti-aliased text. This is a luxury user interface detail, but I’ve become pretty picky about it since using Mac OS X. I now expect applications to properly anti-alias all text, which generally means rendering letterforms according to their outline font files rather than their bitmap font files. The difference, much better explained by John Gruber at Daring Fireball, might be quickly summarized as using the description of a letterform for higher-resolution displays (e.g., printers) versus using the description for lower-resolution displays (e.g., computer screens).

StickyBrain can also stand to use Mac OS X’s standard Font palette rather than its customized, compacted ‘TEXT Palette,’ if for no other reason than the standard palette allows me to quickly apply favorite font settings — Helvetica Regular, 12 pt. black, for example — without having to make selections on three or four different pulldown menus.

Finally, I could forgive most of these shortcomings and go ahead and pay the registration fee for StickyBrain, but I find its price point to be a bit high: US$39.99 is a lot to pay for something that ultimately amounts to a replacement for a fifty-cent pad of Post-it Notes.


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