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Summary:

The fear of freedom that Zengobi’s Curio offers users has caused me to write and rewrite this post many times over the past few months. I just haven’t known how best to embody its essence. So before I confuse (and frighten) myself more, I’m kicking this […]

curio

The fear of freedom that Zengobi’s Curio offers users has caused me to write and rewrite this post many times over the past few months. I just haven’t known how best to embody its essence. So before I confuse (and frighten) myself more, I’m kicking this post off with my conclusion of Curio: It’s the ideal place to marry disparate pieces of information. Or more accurately, disparate pieces of information, each of which are organized in their own way — think Visio-style drawings, mind mappings, spreadsheets, outlines, etc. Curio is flexible enough to use for just about any data gathering or task organizing that you may be facing.

What Curio is Not

There are many applications on the market that fulfill fairly singular functions. XMind allows you to capture Mind Maps. Keynote helps you create great slides for presentations. Microsoft Office products like Word and Excel assist with creating somewhat formal collections of information. Quicktime can capture video.

Well, Curio is not any one of these things. Just the opposite, it’s all of these tools (and more) in a single package. At this point the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” may be flitting through your mind. But while Curio doesn’t master the features of all of the aforementioned specialized applications, it certainly does a great job of handling the important functions of each — and then melding them together for a seamless user experience.

Features as Far as the Eye Can See

Covering all of Curio’s features and capabilities is better suited for a book, not a blog. But since I’m writing for TheAppleBlog, and not publishing my own book (or one for Zengobi — unless they’re hiring), I’ll just hit the most compelling points from this vast product.

Knowledge Base – Thinking of a Curio file as a Legal Pad may be a good place to begin. This Legal Pad contains all kinds of information you may want to keep track of — drag anything you want into Curio, create diagrams, record audio or video to embed into your document, snap images with your iSight or take screen grabs. And the list goes on. All of this information is flag-able, tag-able and searchable for later use. I’ve considered (though haven’t had the chance to try yet) using Curio in professional training courses to capture notes in a contextual manner.

Library – All of your content is kept in the Curio Library. So even if you’ve brought something into a Curio file and decided not to use it there, it can be stored in the Library for later use. This is a great way to keep important information available across all of your files.

Project Management/Task Tracking – Who knew Curio could function as a Project Manager? It’s no Microsoft Project, but you can certainly create tasks out of your Legal Pad notes. Those tasks can be assigned priorities and due dates. And then all of it can be tracked from within the Status view of Curio.

Flashlight – The systemwide search capability built directly into Curio is Flashlight…like Spotlight in OS X. This gives users a super simple and quick way to find anything to drag into your Legal Pad and associate with something you’re currently working on.

Sleuth – System files aren’t all you can grab, either. Sleuth is the built-in browser that allows you to search all kinds of web media and sites for things you may need to incorporate into your Legal Pad. Once you find what you want, drag the content of the search results, or the URL, into Curio’s workspace and do what you like with it.

Presentations – Because the content of your Curio file may be so diverse, converting it into a Keynote file for presentation may turn into a minor migraine headache. So why bother? Curio has its own presentation mode, which allows you to take full advantage of all the content you may have included in your notes (whether it be text, images, web links or movies).

Evernote – The go-anywhere note-taking solution (it’s great on the iPhone!) is integrated right into Curio. So anything you log in Evernote becomes immediately available for use directly inside your Legal Pad. Imagine the power of being able to capture ideas anywhere, and have them fully integrated into your note-capturing knowledge base built with Curio!

Extensibility – You can go to the Community part of Zengobi’s site and download different styles, themes and plug-ins to take your Curio notes to the next level.

Conclusion

The free-form methodology of Curio is truly powerful. No matter what kind of information you have, or how you want to mash it up, this is the software that will put it together for you, and make it completely usable and beautiful. But the power comes in the right situation and with the right user. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to decide what that situation is for my own use, and it frustrates me. You can purchase Curio in Standard or Pro versions — $99 and $149, respectively — or if you’re a student, you can get the Pro version for $69. Download a trial of Curio, and check out their Tutorinis (toward the bottom of the page) for more explanation and examples uses. You’re bound to find a great use for this amazingly flexible tool.

If you’re a Curio power-user, please share your use of this tremendous tool with the rest of our readers.

By Nick Santilli

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  1. Torbjørn Vik Lunde Tuesday, June 30, 2009

    Is it wrong to look at this like some kind of Microsoft OneNote-killer?

    Anway: judging from both this review and their website this looks like an awfully complex piece of software.

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  2. Andreas Ramstad Tuesday, June 30, 2009

    It took me about a week to get into the basics of it but as soon as you can figure that out it’s great.

    One of the features I like the most that wasn’t mentioned is that you can create buttons that instantly opens up it’s own little browser – works very good if you are doing a mind map.

    The inspector tool opens up a ton of possibilities as you can create actions for what ever object you place on the “whiteboard”.

    One of the best applications you can get for OS X right now.

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  3. I love Curio. I use it for everything, particularly for keeping track of my sites and blogs. Rather than having separate files (and forgetting that I even created a “To Do” file for a site in many cases) I keep everything in Curio.

    It’s my most-used app — and it’s a reason to get a Mac if you’re trapped in Windows world.

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  4. John Willis Sunday, July 26, 2009

    This is the most universal and powerful application I have come across. Within a single interface, objects and “items” of almost all multimedia types (e-portfolio “artifacts”) can be drag-and-dropped, copy-pasted, organised, distributed, scaled, linked, controlled using Applescript….. in fact what can’t be done with Curio? Most importantly, it is “intuitive”.
    I have also been using it for everything, including publishing, researching, documenting web searches, portfolios of work, web page design, presentations, as whiteboard software, and I recommend it for preparing any e-portfolio.
    I must also agree with Angela’s last comment: definitely THE reason for getting a Mac. There is nothing else close.

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